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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Signature-James-Typeform-7.png