How you can get big results with little data

Ever used or heard of Shazam? When you hear a song you like and get curious about the title, Shazam will take a small piece of information and analyse it to tell you exactly what music is playing around you, including the name of the songs, the lyrics, the artist - and more.

The genius of Shazam is that with only a few seconds of sound bite, a unique fingerprint can be created, and when compared to a bank of information, insight can be drawn. It's simplicity at its finest. 

Listening to the rhythm of your building

So why would monitoring the energy efficiency of our buildings be any different? Every building has an incredible amount of information to analyse without even installing any sensors. Think about utility data, electricity bills, the use of the space, the general occupancy, the square footage - and the list goes on and on.

By looking at a selection of key pieces of data, you can start to discover how to “fingerprint” a building's efficiency. When you combine these insights with other readily available information about the building, such as the climate and the location, you’ll have even more information to go on. Benchmark the building with how other buildings with similar characteristics perform, and you have even more information to work with. All of this…and that is before using any internal building data sources. 

The genius and simplicity behind the ISO52120 standard

This is exactly what can be achieved with the ISO52120 energy efficiency standard. It isn’t about retrieving every piece of data from a digital twin building: it can start as simply as discovering what hours a heating system runs and comparing that to occupied building hours, or checking what temperature the heating is generating and comparing it to outside weather conditions. 

It is all about how you operate your building systems. Think of your fridge at home. You can have an A-rated fridge, but it won't be efficient if you always leave the door open. A well-looked-after D-rated fridge can outperform an A-rated fridge when it is efficiently operated.

The right algorithms and analysis of your building allow you to use minimal data to discover the current efficiency levels, how you compare to other buildings, what steps need to be taken to improve efficiency and the initial amount of savings that could be achieved. Why make things more complicated than they have to be?

With the right information, you can make easier, faster and more effective decisions about how energy is being used. Make your first improvements within six months.

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Why having too much information is not efficient

We’ve all heard variations of the expression: “Too close to the wood to see the trees”. It’s where you’ve gotten so deep into the detail that you have lost sight of the bigger picture. Or to put it another way – you have so much information, that you have no idea what to do with it.

It can be very easy to find ourselves in that place with building performance data. There is so much a building can tell us, with all of the data that technology makes available. But the question you need to ask yourself is – which information do you really need?

When it comes to data, it’s about quality not quantity

Think about when you’re going on holiday. There is only so much room in your suitcase. As much as you would like to pack every item of clothing you own for your trip, you can’t. So you bring only what you need for the place you are travelling to. The same principle applies to your particular building sustainability journey. To determine which energy, systems and building data is vital, and what is an unnecessary luxury that will only weigh you down, you need to have a clear idea of where you’re

It’s time to get data-efficient

The outdated infrastructure of older buildings can make accessing their data complex and time-consuming, while the procurement models and processes in modern buildings have not kept pace with advances in technology. So what kind of sustainable building do you want? Where are you looking to maximise energy efficiency? Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as indoor comfort conditions or air quality will provide you with actionable insights into your building's sustainability performance. Why place dozens of new sensors around your building and replace boilers and chillers when it is not necessary?

It makes no sense wasting precious time and resources trying to solve design and data problems, when we should be focusing on reducing energy consumption and the decarbonisation of our buildings. By focusing on the data and the metrics, that truly matter, we can effectively monitor our buildings, make informed decisions on allocating resources, and reach our net-zero carbon targets faster.

It is for all these reasons, that we have developed a building management system that offers flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency to building managers for all types of buildings. It is a platform designed not to encumber with more data but to empower you with the right data.

With the right information, you can make easier, faster and more effective decisions about how energy is being used. Make your first improvements within six months.

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The cost of data: the hidden expenses in building monitoring

Did you know an average email can produce about 5 to 10 grams of CO2 emissions? Strange to think of, isn’t it? If you ask me, it gives us pause to question how much of our daily data is avoidable. It’s also why we believe that achieving decarbonisation of buildings means collecting the right information, rather than every single piece of data we can get our hands on.

How a thermostat adds to our carbon footprint

We all want to reach net-zero for our buildings, and the faster and more efficient, the better. But think about this: more data means higher costs - and collecting more data isn’t necessarily the most efficient route either. And yet, many decide to run with whoever offers the most complicated and technologically advanced solution to reach their net-zero targets. But what’s the cost?

Imagine the scenario where data from one collection point, a thermostat for example, is continuously stored every fifteen minutes. This one data source quickly multiplies into 35,000 data points a year. Now consider that some state-of-the-art buildings have approximately 9,000 smart connected assets (each containing multiple data points), and you can start to grasp the sheer volume of data being amassed by “smart” buildings.

Hidden expense of data collection

The hidden expense in all of this isn’t the cost of the collection; it’s the carbon footprint associated with it. Did you know that collecting, transmitting, and storing data generates emissions? Gathering and storing large quantities of data consumes a significant amount of energy and has quite an impact on a company's environmental footprint. According to recent research, data centres in the European Union could account for a significant 3.21% of total electricity usage by 2030. 

And not to be a downer, but it isn’t just the carbon footprint of data collection we’re looking at. While most discussions about data costs focus on storage and processing expenses, another significant cost tends to fly under the radar – validation. Obviously, the reliability of our data is crucial. Unreliable data is useless and can lead us astray in our pursuit of high performance and sustainable solutions. Guess what? Validating data requires manual involvement and meticulous attention to detail. It demands time, resources, and, therefore, cost. 

A few data points with wide-ranging insights

See where we’re going with this? Systems and strategies that can provide important, valuable insights while needing just a few data points, can bring wide-ranging benefits to our sustainability journey, improve the financial viability of our portfolio, and bridge the gap between the leaders of change and those managing our buildings.

Ready to get your first insights today? Calculate energy performance, compare to benchmarks and unlock potential savings.

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How performance monitoring KPIs influence the net-zero targets and financial viability of our buildings

Even before investing in renewables or upgrades, you want to make sure your building uses its energy efficiently and without waste. Something as simple as the data from heating and cooling systems allows us to identify energy-saving opportunities, leading to energy efficiency. An effective way to accomplish energy efficiency is through data collection, which allows you to set KPIs and gain valuable insights into energy consumption patterns. 

Setting the right KPIs is like setting the stage for a musical - you’re going to want to have all props on the right spot before someone breaks a leg. Benchmarks and goals give us the context we need to see how our buildings are performing. We take all the information we've gathered from the buildings and compare it to similar ones or best practices, turning random numbers into insightful nuggets of wisdom. This allows us to set realistic targets for reducing energy consumption over time, which is a big win-win.

What KPIs and pocket allowance have in common

Think of KPIs as pocket allowance for a young teenager. You don’t want to get any complaints about it being too little, so you compare it against similar, like-minded parents, the standards within your region, and external factors such as the price of clothes and snacks. If your teenager is saving for something special - reaching a specific goal, the pocket allowance would require assessment, evaluation and adjustments. 

In a way, pocket money is like the KPIs of growing up, it serves as a performance measure, teaching young adults how to manage their resources effectively. It’s about setting goals and tracking progress towards those goals. Like we monitor energy consumption and occupant satisfaction, teenagers manage their pocket money to achieve personal financial objectives.

Using KPIs to set realistic net-zero targets suitable for our buildings

When we make sure the data we gather from our buildings actually makes sense to those responsible for reaching targets, we become like energy efficiency detectives. We can spot trends, anomalies, and hidden energy-saving opportunities that would have otherwise slipped through the cracks. Now that we know what’s needed, we can make the right decisions when implementing energy-saving measures such as upgrading equipment, optimising building systems, or adjusting occupant behaviour.

With a shared understanding of energy consumption patterns and performance goals, occupiers, building managers, and sustainability teams can work together towards achieving targets. It’s about more than just ticking boxes or complying with regulations; it is about steering our buildings towards a sustainable future while ensuring their long-term financial viability. 

We believe in what we do, and we think that you should, too. But surely, we wouldn’t ask you to take our word for it. That’s why we’ve created a first set of analytics to give insight into your building or facility’s energy performance. With as little as your utility bills and some basic building information, we can show you how your building performs, where you benchmark, and what you might want to aim for.

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From maintenance to mileage: how building data can keep us on track

The genius of a car dashboard lies in its simplicity. Despite the ever-increasing complexity of technology it operates on, it provides only the essential information to help us reach a destination safely, efficiently and very importantly…on time!!

Reaching sustainability goals in commercial real estate is very similar. If the responsible people don’t have key information to measure progress, evaluate performance and allocate resources, then the destination may not be reached, not to mention getting there on time.

Fuelling our building’s success with the right information

When driving a car, the person responsible needs to know if there is enough fuel to reach the destination, if maintenance is needed and if we’ll make it to our destination without too many issues. It wouldn’t make sense if that information were only provided to the mechanic, leaving the driver clueless.

The same goes for our buildings. Unfortunately, key information is inaccessible to those responsible for sustainability goals in many organisations. They cannot measure progress effectively, and they don’t have the right levers available to influence change as may be required. By taking advantage of valuable operating data available within our buildings and translating it into clear, insightful information, we put ourselves in the position to achieve and maintain targets.

Measuring progress and driving towards sustainability

Measuring performance doesn’t have to get too technical. Firstly, we must understand the core function of a building, the provision of a comfortable and productive environment. Secondly, we need a means of measuring how efficiently and sustainably that is being achieved. 

It is similar to measuring financial performance when you are not an accountant. Profit is the goal, and your financial accounts set out the key metrics that allow you to assess how well you are doing and what can be improved.

The information and insights into performance show us where to find optimisation opportunities, help us identify areas of inefficiency and discover recommendations for improvement. This makes all the difference in reaching our targets. It allows us to proactively address energy waste, reduce operating costs, and enhance the overall sustainability of the properties in our portfolio.

Having the right tools, analysis, and information can empower us to succeed. Ready to get your first insights today? Calculate energy performance, compare to benchmarks and unlock potential savings.

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The ripple effect of ESG on the future of our buildings

The Emerging Trends Europe survey showed that 9 in 10 commercial property investors believe running an environmentally and socially sustainable business is the most crucial factor for a successful organisational transformation within the real estate industry by 2050. 

And we’d have to agree. The importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors continues to grow throughout our industry. 

Why are ESG factors important?

In two most important themes that will drive real estate investment decisions and strategic planning are ESG factors and the change in occupier demand. Decarbonisation, found at the fifth position, is a near-automatic manifestation of the latter. 

As our society evolves and becomes more conscious of its impact on the environment and social well-being, commercial property investors increasingly recognise the importance of ESG factors in their investment decisions. 

ESG considerations go beyond financial performance; they focus on environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and good governance practices. Incorporating ESG factors into the decision-making process for commercial property investors can lead to long-term success while addressing societal challenges such as the empty floors in Grade-A buildings many of us face.

The future of ESG in commercial property 

Demonstrating how and why we apply ESG principles (and demonstrating how and why we do so) creates a ripple effect and provides more benefits than reaching net-zero targets. It allows us to attract quality tenants, command higher rental rates, and minimise running costs. On top of that, it creates the perfect tool for reputation management, marketing, and creating opportunities for a community-based approach toward a net-zero target.

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