The three pillars of zero-emissions buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has introduced a standardised, verifiable basis for defining a zero-emissions building. The first part of this definition, focusing on Operating Emissions, outlines three fundamental criteria that are crucial for a building to be considered a zero-emissions building:

1. Highly energy efficient: the building must be designed and operated to maximise energy efficiency, reducing energy demand and consumption.

2. Free of on-site emissions: the building must be free of any direct emissions from the on-site energy, ensuring a truly emissions-free operation.

3. Powered solely by clean energy: the building must be powered entirely by renewable or clean energy sources, eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

The three pillars of zero-emissions buildings

The takeaway here is that reaching the organisation's net-zero targets is driven by high energy efficiency. This means minimising energy waste, optimising the performance of existing systems, ensuring renewable energy sources are delivering as expected, and making sure any improvements or upgrades live up to the manufacturer's claims.

Monitoring your buildings and facilities allows you to take action where needed. The more action items you can cross off the list, the closer you get to reaching your targets.

The power of truly actionable insights

You don’t need digital twins or high-tech AI solutions to reach your targets. You need the right information, analysed in a way that makes sense—insightful, clear, transparent, and actionable. Whether it’s achieving financial gain, improving office space comfort, or reaching net-zero targets, the right information will help you see what steps must be taken to stay on track. 

With the right information, you can make easier, faster and more effective decisions about energy use. With as little as your utility bills and some basic building information, we can give you a first insight into your building performance, where you benchmark, and what you might want to aim for.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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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The 3 R’s of energy waste: Reduce, Recycle, Report

Recycling is part of our lives from the moment we’re born. Plastic goes into one bin, while green waste goes into another. Old clothes are donated, and shopping bags are reused. Though we might not have been consciously raised with the 3Rs of waste management—Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse—we apply them daily.

And these principles are just as important when it comes to energy and carbon waste in our buildings.

Reduce: minimising energy consumption

Step one in managing energy waste is reducing the amount of energy needed in a building. Surprisingly, even the most efficiently managed and well-designed buildings can waste a significant amount of energy. To tackle this issue, we need two things: reliable data and efficient processes.

A standard like ISO 52120 saves the day by providing building control and system efficiency guidelines. By simply following these guidelines, we can potentially save over 20% on energy, and most of these improvements are low-cost solutions that simply correct operational errors. Cutting back on energy consumption means minimising carbon, reducing the need for alternative technologies like renewable energy and therefore, a lower embodied carbon load for the building. A win-win for everyone involved.

Recycle: reclaiming waste energy

In the same way, we recycle plastic waste in our homes, we can recycle and reclaim some of the energy wasted in our buildings. Once we have the information needed to gain insights into how and when energy is being used, we can explore ways to recycle this wasted energy within our building's operations. 

Let’s use air quality as an example. The modern systems are fully driven by 100% fresh air intake. The more fresh air circulates, the more ‘used’ air must be discarded. A solution as simple as a heat exchanger allows the fresh intake to be warmed or cooled down, using the heat from ‘used’ air - recycling it for a new purpose.

Report: knowledge is power

Just as financial information like budgets helps manage various aspects of a business, accurate and regular reporting on energy usage and operational performance is essential to drive a sustainability program. Making energy waste visible and prioritising it, will impact not just the sustainability goals, but the financial viability of a business as well. 

And it doesn’t have to be hard. As long as we collect the right information, we can contextualise it to better understand and directly share it with relevant stakeholders. Within months, you can see the first minor improvements make major impacts. 

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

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