It is estimated that about 40% of worldwide energy use occurs in buildings. Since buildings often last over one hundred years, the importance of improving the energy efficiency of the existing building stock should play a key part in the strategy to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the medium and long term. Facility managers rely on building management systems (BMS) to gather data about building performance and energy usage to reduce operating and maintenance costs, improve building comfort and save energy. But harnessing “Big Data” to deliver such savings requires significant training and in-depth knowledge of a facility and its history. It also requires an investment in IT and dashboards or automated analytics. Add to this an aging infrastructure, reduced budgets, and expertise lost through personnel fluctuation – and it is clear that facility managers face a major challenge.
Historically there has been little information available about how energy was used in public buildings in Europe. This is now starting to change, thanks largely to an expansion of cheap sensors and smart meters that collect real-time data on how energy is being consumed. At the same time, the market for software to analyse that data is expensive. Regulation is helping to fuel the trend, as pressure mounts from local governments across the EU for building owners to find ways to reduce their energy use (Covenant of Mayors, Energy efficiency Directive etc.). While advanced data analytics open new doors to identify areas of inefficiency and implement targeted energy-saving initiatives, technical tools are changing fast and must be tailored to suit the goals — and available resources — of public authorities. These tendencies are making cities smarter, more efficient, and proving incredibly useful. But the best approach does not come from data alone, but from real engagement with building owners and building users and senior decision makers. Our innovative approach is therefore a user led approach to use big data to help engage with public authorities to build capacity to share experience and so more effectively implement sustainable energy policy.