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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Breathing easy: clean air, happy occupiers

Temperature, humidity and other sensors are important to prevent energy waste. But they're just as important to create a healthy indoor environment.

Once upon a time, researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria decided to see what a two-hour exposure to diesel exhaust does to the brain. The result? Temporary decreased functional connectivity in the brain, after exposure to diesel exhaust. On the other end of the spectrum, Finnish technology company Naava wanted to see the effect of plants and green walls in the office space. No less than 43% of the participants made fewer mistakes in the room with green walls, compared to the control room.

The moral of these studies? Don’t let your occupiers breathe diesel exhaust.

But all jokes aside, an unhealthy indoor environment leads to lower productivity, coughs, colds, mental fatigue, headaches, nausea, and so on—issues that companies strive to prevent and avoid. Obviously, the significance of having comfortable, healthy buildings cannot be underestimated. 

Adapting office spaces for the modern occupier

Just like all humans, occupiers in your office spaces or facilities need high-quality oxygen to breathe, and consistent temperature and humidity levels for comfort and overall performance. You wouldn’t be the first left with empty buildings after the pandemic; ready to get occupiers filling those floors again. And the same goes for many employers who are keen to get their employees back to the office. 

But times have changed - and so have the demands from occupiers.

Offering a healthy work environment asks for more than opening a window to get the air circulating. It's all about how the building functions as a whole. That's where monitoring comes into play.

Squirrel on roller skates: navigating indoor environmental performance

Temperature and air quality play a big role in setting an indoor environment up for success. But they’re also wholly dynamic and as unpredictable as a squirrel on roller skates, thanks to their relationship to outdoor conditions and indoor occupancy levels. This means that continuous monitoring with devices in the space is vital to staying on top of our buildings' indoor environmental performance. 

It doesn’t come as a surprise that The International WELL Building Institute recognises the importance of a healthy indoor environment, and established eight concepts for WELL building certification, one of which is Air Quality. 

But simply meeting ventilation standards is not enough. We must also focus on reducing indoor air pollution and ensuring clean air within our buildings. This is where monitoring plays a crucial role. 

From comfort to sustainability

By keeping a constant eye on the humidity levels, variations from desired temperatures, and any potential malfunctions in our HVAC systems, we can ensure that the equipment in our buildings operates at its very best; and optimally performing equipment means optimal air quality. Even better, this enables us to not only evaluate whether our buildings are delivering a healthy indoor environment, but also to determine if the equipment is running efficiently or wasting energy.

So, not only can we provide a healthy indoor environment, but we can also uncover opportunities to save costs and decrease energy consumption, bringing us one step closer to achieving that net-zero goal.

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 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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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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Why energy efficiency initiatives should be a top priority in decarbonisation

It seems a quick fix: spending large budgets on renewables, digital twins, and high-tech devices to reach net-zero targets. And yet, it won’t fix a thing. Because if most of the energy generated by these renewable resources goes wasted, we only make progress on paper. 

If we prioritise energy efficiency and reduce wasted energy, we can prevent all of the above. Installing occupancy counters, CO2 monitors, thermostats, and others is quick and painless. With a bit of luck, after six months of information collection, we can see the first energy leaks in our buildings. And once we find the leaks, we can fix them. 

From cutting waste to more sustainable buildings

Knowing how our buildings perform sounds like the most logical thing there is, and yet most of us have very little understanding of what is happening in our buildings. Building Managers tend to be too close to the action, and sustainability managers and executives too far removed. Both parties need clear information on how the buildings are performing so they can communicate and contribute effectively toward decarbonisation.

Think about the basics. We provide lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation to achieve comfortable and productive spaces for people. It sounds obvious, I know, but any time any of those services are provided when there are fewer occupants than the systems were designed to operate for (lower occupancy, weekends, holidays etc.), energy gets wasted. That’s our first energy leak right there.

When your systems provide what is needed when it is needed, we achieve higher levels of operational efficiency, lower expenses, and more sustainable building operations. And that’s our first leak fixed. The savings achieved through lower energy bills can help offset the initial investment in energy-efficient technologies. 

Knowledge is power

With quick implementation, the shortest paybacks, and the lowest embodied carbon, monitored energy efficiency initiatives are highly effective in reducing carbon emissions and driving sustainable change. An overview with all the information about possible issues, waste points, or underperforming systems within your buildings is your main tool for setting and reaching net-zero targets and maintaining energy-efficient buildings.

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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How understanding EUI can transform your building’s performance

One of the most powerful tools in the pursuit of energy efficiency in commercial buildings is the Energy Use Intensity (EUI) metric. This standardised benchmark provides invaluable insights into a building's energy usage and is essential for achieving decarbonisation goals. Let's delve into what EUI is and why it plays such a crucial role.

What is Energy Use Intensity?

EUI benchmarks are standardised benchmarks that provide invaluable insights into how efficiently a building uses energy. EUI is calculated by dividing a building's total energy consumption by its total floor area. It gives us an EUI value that represents the energy used per square foot or square meter. The lower the EUI value, the higher the energy efficiency – it's as simple as that!

The importance of EUI in decarbonisation

As sustainability and energy efficiency take centre stage in the commercial real estate industry, EUI plays a vital role in decarbonisation efforts. It serves as a vital yardstick for evaluating our sustainability initiatives in commercial properties. By accurately assessing a building's current energy performance through EUI, we can identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to reduce energy usage.

High EUI values may indicate outdated or inefficient systems lurking in properties, which could result in repairs and renovations down the line. The better the EUI ratings, the more attractive buildings are to potential buyers or tenants. Lowering the EUI values contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combats climate change. But just as important, it will lead to substantial cost savings as utility bills and operational expenses are significantly reduced. 

Understanding (and utilising) EUI benchmarks

As sustainability and energy efficiency gain prominence in the commercial real estate industry, understanding and utilising EUI benchmarks has become increasingly important. Investors now place greater emphasis on these factors when making investment decisions. By comparing a property's EUI value with industry benchmarks, investors can make informed choices that result in financial savings, reduced risk, and a positive environmental impact.

Using these benchmarks is pretty straightforward. 

A comparison helps put the number into context. There are no clear-cut "good" or "bad" numbers when it comes to energy use. Instead, using this benchmark means you rely on the collective wisdom of what others are doing. It can still be valuable as the comparison helps to give you that bit of needed context. 

Detailed data to support EUI score

It's important to remember that the EUI score alone can only be evaluated by considering other factors. To effectively identify areas of improvement and develop strategies to address them, you'll need detailed data about your building's daily energy consumption.

Collecting real-time information about energy usage from specific machines or systems (think lightning and HVAC for example) is an important first step. By understanding a building's performance and assessing its energy systems and infrastructure, you can identify areas for improvement or upgrades, ultimately leading to lower EUI values. Having the right information means gaining a better understanding. Armed with this information, you can set and reach targets.

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

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