What does comfort and air quality actually cost you?

Things as simple as simultaneously heating and cooling adjacent spaces leads to waste - and reduced comfort. Only one in five buildings has a control system regulating heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water generation. And still most of these buildings operate at a Class C energy efficiency level. The ones without control systems are worse again, operating at efficiency grades of E, F or G.  

Balancing comfort with energy efficiency is quite a task. But it’s also the way to create healthy and comfortable work environments (and bring occupants back to our buildings). Understanding the energy burn needed to achieve the desired comfort levels is important. So, what does it really take—energy-wise—to maintain a comfortable and healthy space?

Understanding energy consumption for comfort

Comfort in an office space goes beyond setting a thermostat. It involves temperature, humidity, and even air distribution within a space. Achieving and maintaining these conditions comes at an energy cost—and the possibility of energy waste. 

The lion’s share of energy use in office buildings can be attributed to humidity control, ventilation- and HVAC systems. Especially during the colder and warmer months. Are you heating and cooling two adjacent spaces? Does the ventilation system need to work twice as hard after being turned off over the weekend? Then energy is being wasted. And wasted energy equals less comfort, higher cost and more effort to reach your net-zero targets.

The moral of the story? If we want to reach our sustainability, wellness and financial targets, all these systems need to be running like a well-oiled machine - with no room for error. This means not just having a good control system in place, but knowing where energy is being wasted and what action can be taken to make these systems more efficient.

Reducing the operational cost while maintaining high-end spaces

Energy demand is and will always be present. The challenge is not simply about supplying renewable energy, but making the best use of whatever energy is used and avoiding waste. Adjusting to occupancy, usage patterns and outdoor weather conditions is a precision job. It is this lack of insight and understanding that causes many buildings to operate on a Class C level and lower.

Knowing how our buildings and their systems function gives us the insight we need to prevent this wastage while maintaining high-end, comfortable, and healthy spaces. It allows our occupiers to return to comfortable spaces and provides sustainable and financial benefits for our buildings. Achieving net-zero carbon goals while maintaining high comfort and air quality standards is within reach—for those bold enough to take up the challenge.


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How sustainable practices pay off in more ways than one

Reducing waste leads to a lower base of energy usage - and that only brings benefits. If you’re in the market for a new house, would you go for a townhouse with a D-BER certification, or would you rather invest in a sustainable A-rated property? Many would most likely choose the A-rated property. There’s less maintenance, little investment and lower risk. 

The same applies to those about to invest in your portfolio. Sustainability is not just a buzzword but a strategic imperative for companies. As we all work towards our net-zero carbon goals, showcasing best-in-class ESG policies is not just a requirement but a competitive advantage. Sustainability isn’t a box to check off; it's a pathway to a portfolio filled with lower-risk investments, a testament to your company's resilience and forward-thinking approach.

And who doesn’t love a low-risk investment?

Sustainable practices to manage reputation and drive innovation

Sustainable business models have become the cornerstone of forward-thinking organisations. Integrating environmental, social, and economic considerations into our everyday operations ensures our success while minimising our impact on the planet. Embracing these sustainable practices helps us manage our reputation, strengthen stakeholder relationships, mitigate risks associated with climate change, and drive innovation. What’s not to like?!

Strong ESG credentials for a broader range of investors

As you’ve probably noticed over the last few years, investors increasingly prioritise sustainability when making investment decisions. It just makes sense in the long run. So, making sure you’re backed with strong ESG credentials will demonstrate your commitment to responsible governance practices that align with investor expectations for long-term value creation. 

Strong sustainability practices lead to increased operational efficiency, decreased regulatory risks and improved brand value, all of which contribute to financial stability. Brilliant stuff, but the cherry on the pie is the fact that a sustainable, low-risk portfolio as such can attract a broader range of investors, including those focused specifically on ESG investments - who actively support companies that prioritise sustainability.


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Bridging the gap between those setting the sails and those steering the ship

Transparent, tangible information can be powerful in the hands of those with the responsibility and resources to implement change. The right information, paired with the right knowledge and expertise, becomes valuable insight. 

But you can’t assemble furniture if the instructions are in Chinese. Nor can you manage your sustainability goals if the performance data from your buildings comes in 1’s and 0’s. Sustainable operations can only be achieved by effectively bridging the gap between those responsible for reaching sustainability targets and those managing the buildings in the portfolio. 

Only when these two essential groups can work together to monitor their buildings, can net-zero carbon targets be reached.

Knowing what drives the results

One of the key aspects of the role of those responsible for reaching sustainability goals is setting targets and reporting on performance. And that’s a challenge. Most of the time, it is impossible to see what’s driving the results you see; which makes it near impossible to improve them when targets are missed.

Once we can measure the level of performance we should expect from our buildings, it becomes easier to hold responsible parties accountable for their results. To effectively monitor our buildings and reach our net-zero carbon targets, we don’t need all the data; we just need the right information.

The first step is to collect data from various sensors placed strategically throughout a building to see when and how much energy is being used. This allows us to identify not only peak usage hours, but also inefficient equipment that may be contributing to excessive energy consumption. 

The second step matters most: translating this complex data into actionable information that gives those responsible everything they need to discover important waste points that could influence occupant comfort, running costs, and even our ability to reach our net-zero targets.

Bridging the gap

The key to success lies in bridging the gap between those leading the way towards net-zero operations and those managing day-to-day building operations. By understanding the true drivers of building performance, we gain valuable insights that enable informed decision-making and drive improvements where necessary.

If we understand how our buildings work for us, we can establish effective communication between all stakeholders involved. Opening connections between those setting the sails and those steering the ship, making sure everyone is on the same page: working towards common goals.


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Do offsetting schemes lead to false carbon neutrality?

In an era where the threat of climate change looms over us like a dark cloud, we must take responsibility for our role in carbon emissions. However, the term "carbon-neutral" has become a buzzword that is often misused by companies looking to appear environmentally conscious without actually making significant reductions in their emissions. Some might call it a greenwashing tactic - but we wouldn’t dare be that bold.

The offsetting charade

Terms like "climate neutral" or "climate positive" have been thrown around carelessly, enabling businesses to claim sustainability by simply purchasing carbon offsets. These offsets are meant to compensate for an organisation's emissions by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gases elsewhere. Unfortunately, recent investigations have exposed many offsetting schemes as nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Take Verra, the world's largest carbon-offsetting certifier. In 2023, an investigation by The Guardian revealed that over 90% of the carbon credits sold by Verra did not lead to any emission reductions. This discovery shed light on the flaws within the system and demonstrated how easily companies can exploit these offsetting schemes without taking concrete steps to reduce their own carbon footprint.

A similar study conducted by the European Commission found that 85% of the offset projects used by the EU under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) failed to reduce emissions.

Paying our way out?

The problem with relying solely on offsetting as a solution to climate change is its fundamental flaw: it allows businesses to continue emitting greenhouse gases unchecked while paying others to clean up their mess. It's akin to hiring someone else to do your homework; you may receive good grades, but what are they truly worth?

To address this issue directly, the European Union (EU) has announced plans to ban terms such as "climate neutral" and "climate positive" that solely rely on offsetting by 2026. This crackdown on misleading environmental claims is a positive step forward, compelling businesses to be more transparent about their efforts to reduce emissions.

From monitoring our buildings to net-zero

While (credible) offsetting schemes may have a role in transitioning towards a sustainable future, they cannot be relied upon as the sole solution. So what should we do? We turn our attention to our buildings. Our buildings play a significant role in achieving net-zero carbon targets and provide us with essential information.

By effectively monitoring the performance of our buildings, we can identify areas of waste and inefficiency, enabling us to implement targeted measures for reducing consumption. Simple solutions like weather-compensated heating systems or advanced technologies like demand-controlled HVAC systems offer numerous ways to make a tangible impact on carbon emissions before considering investments in renewable resources.

The first step toward net-zero is as simple as looking at the information our buildings provide us. Leading the way to a future where carbon neutrality isn't just a catchy slogan - but an undeniable reality.

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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.


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The Performance Gap: bridging the divide between building design and energy consumption

Imagine this scenario: You have just bought yourself the latest Tesla 208 Cd, which is built for speed, endurance, and range with its improved aerodynamics and wider chassis. 

You take it for a spin - assuming you’ll easily get 300 kilometres out of that first battery load. But after a mere 200 kilometres, you find yourself parked on the side of the highway, waiting for road assistance.

Caught in the gap: why our buildings aren't living up to expectations

What went wrong? The answer is easier than you might think. If you use the right driving technique, that Tesla 208 has no problem reaching 300 kilometres with one battery load. If you found yourself pushing it to its max, accelerating at low speeds and, as some say, dogging it - you won’t be able to reach the targetted efficiency levels. 

Adjusting your driving technique will.

The same goes for our buildings. Assumptions about how a building will be used and occupied may not accurately affect real-life scenarios, leading to the well-known Performance Gap. Most importantly, many buildings lack comprehensive monitoring systems that track energy usage on a day-to-day basis. Without this information, it becomes extremely difficult to see where things go wrong, and where the energy use deviates from the expected performance.

Harnessing data to close the Performance Gap

Collecting the most important data your building offers and analysing it against established benchmarks or standards, such as LEED or WELL Building Standard®, can give us valuable insights into how our buildings perform. This fact-driven approach allows for targeted interventions and improvements where necessary.

When we translate all this data into clear information, discover where energy is wasted and take action to improve, we can bridge the divide between predicted and actual energy consumption - closing the Performance Gap and contributing to a more sustainable future.


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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