Commercial real estate builder Investa has fitted a large number of sensors to its new office tower at 151 Clarence Street in Sydney and is using them as part of a “digital twin” implementation.

The company used Microsoft Azure digital twin technology through Aussie tech firm Willow as part of the project.

A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical asset.

“Digital twins are not only able to map out every floor, wall, stair, lift, door handle in a building, but instead extend far beyond an online blueprint,” Microsoft said this week.

“They also capture real time data from sensors about the health of assets, monitors the location of people in a building, and also acts as a repository of data about the building – holding everything from the original architect’s drawings through to the warranties and service histories associated with plant and equipment.”

Investa said that many of the building’s sensors are incorporated into its lighting system.

“It is one of the first buildings to utilise smart sensor technology in all of its lighting, which can reduce electricity costs by up to 78 percent, while providing heat mapped space utilisation insights,” the company said in a statement of its own.

Mark Tait, group executive and head of commercial development at Investa, said digital twin technology provided “complete transparency about a building to the owners and occupiers.”

“Building management has a far better relationship with tenants because the real time live data sets allow them to respond far quicker,” he said.

Where a maintenance request would usually require a building manager to search paper folders for asset specifications or the associated warranty, “with a digital twin that’s all available on a smartphone or tablet, allowing instant action,” Microsoft said.

Investa has also used the digital twin concept at other sites it owns, and again Willow was involved in those developments.

Investa’s 567 Collins St building in Melbourne has a digital twin mapping “more than 57,000 assets in the asset register and taking feeds from 14,000 live data points in the building”, Microsoft said.

“Facilities management can identify an individual asset with one search and click, keep full records of compliance checks on assets, and gain instant access to warranties and manuals.”