The right data: not big data

Achieving sustainability goals requires more than just setting targets. Understanding what drives results and measuring progress requires accurate and reliable data. However, retrieving this data can pose various challenges that must be acknowledged.

In our race towards ambitious sustainability goals, we cannot afford to allocate too much talent and resources to solving data issues. Much of the energy, systems and building data that can be accessed is irrelevant and will not help us have a meaningful impact on our sustainability. 

Knowing what data is essential and why is critical. Time is ticking, and we need to take action now.

The challenges of building technology data

Data from building systems is notoriously difficult to access and read. Poor naming conventions, siloed networks, proprietary protocols, and unreliable hardware are just some of the many factors that make it challenging and costly to utilise this data effectively. This challenge becomes even greater in older buildings, where outdated infrastructure adds complexity. Even modern and sophisticated buildings face data challenges because our procurement models and processes have not evolved with the pace of technology. 

Less (data) is more: Less confusion, less conflict, less chaos and less cost. 

The right data, not big data

Though it might seem like the obvious next step, we shouldn’t waste precious time and resources solving design and data problems while neglecting the real challenge of reducing energy consumption and decarbonisation of our buildings. Only when we prioritise clear, actionable information, will we be empowered to make informed choices regarding operating and maintaining a more sustainable building.

By focusing on getting the right data, we can ensure that our energy waste reduction efforts are supported by reliable information. This allows us to achieve net-zero operations and enable a more sustainable future for our buildings.

So… What is the right data?

Whether you’re looking at a building that’s reached seniority status or a modern, sophisticated item in the portfolio, it might seem to make sense to collect as much data as possible. Yet the opposite is true. It is by focusing on what truly matters that we can effectively monitor our buildings and reach our net-zero carbon targets. 

By focusing on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as indoor comfort conditions and the energy consumption of the systems providing the service, we can gain actionable insights into our building’s sustainability performance. These selected metrics enable us to make informed decisions and allocate resources efficiently.

It’s not about the quantity; it’s about the quality.

The benefits of the road untravelled 

In our quest to build sustainable structures with minimal environmental impact, it’s important to challenge conventional norms and embrace a rebellious mindset. As thought leaders in this ever-changing sector, we must dare to question the often-used, established practices and use our wits to push boundaries.

This means going beyond the standard, at times choosing the seemingly unconventional route, by following your instincts and knowledge gained over the years. If you don’t have to place dozens of new sensors and replace boilers and chillers – don’t.

It’s about getting the right information rather than the big data.