A new partnership between modular housebuilding specialist Etopia and technology giant Samsung aims to make smart technology the standard for new homes. Etopia founder and CEO Joseph Daniels and Murtaza Bukhari, GM of strategic partnerships at Samsung, set out its aims
We know the UK needs more new homes, but as an industry we don’t spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what these homes should be like. The country needs quantity, and urgently, but we should also aim to build better homes too. We should critically evaluate what we expect from our houses now and what we will demand from them in the future.
Building homes that are fit for the future sits at the core of Etopia’s ethos for eco-smart homes, built using modern construction methods and utilising sustainable technology such as solar panels and energy storage. The wall panels and sustainable technology combine to make the homes so energy efficient that they surpass EPC standards, receiving scores of 103 out of 100 on average.
We could not achieve these standards without technology, and that is why Etopia and Samsung have entered a new partnership. Together, we want to create a benchmark for how we should be imagining, designing, and building UK homes that are fit for 2020 and far beyond.
When you think about homes for the future, you should picture properties with green technology installed as standard, with a control in your home so you can set your ideal temperature and what time the heating comes on – and even change those settings while you are out and about using your phone.
These houses will have smart home hubs that are fully customisable, so homeowners can control all their gadgets from one app. We’ll be able to control everything from the lights to the speakers by touching a single button. Our homes will fit our lifestyles, rather than forcing us to adapt to a static building which doesn’t quite meet our needs.
Through Etopia and Samsung’s partnership, we are showing that those are not just homes for the future, but homes for today too.
Time for the property industry to fully embrace technology – Joseph Daniels
The property industry has been operating in the same way for decades and it has been slow to adapt to the dawn of technology. Smart home equipment can be installed in all properties now, yet new builds are not constructed with this technology in mind.
Just think of lightbulbs, for example, which can be controlled with one button without leaving your sofa, or via your phone. These will become staples of our technological future – yet they’re not on the menu as standard when you buy a house.
The industry leaders, who are constantly moving the goalposts for innovation, can be found in the tech world. Our industry can work side by side with the technology sector, and together we can create a stronger product which is better for our customers and for the environment.
It is a challenging time to be talking about innovation and investment. Everything has changed significantly since the global pandemic brought the UK economy – including construction and the property market – to a screeching halt.
Yet in its Roadmap to Recovery plan, the Construction Leadership Council points to the importance of reinvention to develop a more professional, productive and profitable sector while also creating better performing, more sustainable buildings.
It sees embracing digital and manufacturing technologies as pivotal to sustaining economic growth and delivering low-carbon, sustainable homes – and it wants this to begin over the next 12-24 months.
Combining property and technology from the outset in a new build home has two main benefits.
Firstly, it improves our quality of life, offering comfort through heating and cooling systems, and it makes us more connected to our home, as we can control our appliances from our smartphones, whether we are in the house or outside.
Secondly, and most importantly, it can have proven benefits for the planet. At a time when we urgently need to make more sustainable choices, this motivation has to drive the uptake in technology. On average, Etopia homes prevent 0.525 tonnes of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere each year by feeding surplus energy back into the grid. Over a 25-year mortgage, it’s the equivalent of taking a car off the road for 35.5 years.
Imagine if all new build homes had that capability and the contribution that would make for solving climate change when around 40% of UK CO2 emissions come from household electricity and heating.
We have built high-performing homes. But for those homes to reach their full capabilities and potential, we need hi-spec technology installed too and this is where Samsung comes in. Likewise, Samsung’s technology is enhanced when it is combined with a property which is fully efficient from the outset
We are connected, but our homes are not – Murtaza Bukhari
Technology has changed the world, yet for most of us, our homes have not changed with it.
We have embraced technology and being connected is important to people. But, by and large, our houses do not fully embrace technology and the benefits of the internet. They remain the same as they always have – a blank canvas, unconnected to the community and the opportunities that technology offers. We want consumers to be able to access everything tech offers in every facet of their lives.
The benefit of smart home technology, including plug sockets and buttons, is in its customisation. You can set a system up in a way that enhances your life. And when your life changes, when you suddenly need a home office or a baby’s room, the tech can be adapted to fit those needs.
We predict seeing enormous changes in how homes adopt technology and sustainability will be a big driver of this. Developing environmentally friendly technology solutions is important to Samsung, and innovations to our everyday appliances, such as ensuring a washing machine does not use more water than it needs for a cycle, can all make contributions to preserving our planet.
Heat-pump technology, which will enable us to get rid of combustion boilers, will become a mainstay of our homes. There is no reason why these can’t already be a standard fitting in new build properties. The construction industry can get ahead of the government’s Future Homes Standard proposals, which suggest making heat pumps mandatory in new builds, and start installing that technology now.
We are partnering with Etopia because they are embracing the internet fully when it comes to our homes, but also because they want to work for the betterment of the environment. The housing industry is now very much looking into how it can provide futureproof buildings using technology and Etopia is a great example of a builder embracing the need for innovation in this sector.
Smart, sustainable homes aren’t a faraway vision – they are being built now. There is enormous opportunity in this market for housebuilders to create technologically advanced new homes that will attract buyers who want their home to work for them.
Homes for the future are already here – it’s time to watch their numbers multiply.
Founder and CEO
Twitter: Project Etopia
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GM of strategic partnerships
LinkedIn: Samsung business UK