Starting at the end – Setting goals for smart building outcomes

Written by Gayle Wooster

Forrester Research reports 74% of firms say they want to be data-driven, but only 29% are actually successful at connecting analytics to action.

As is often the case, we can get caught up in the mechanics of a thing and lose sight of our purpose. Mechanics are important, for sure, and initial insights can be eye-opening. But real value doesn’t come from just collecting data, or even from deriving some insights from it. The value is in appropriate action, whether it’s manual or automated.

So, you know you need to gather data, but what do you anticipate doing with your data? Is your expected outcome about behavior modification, looking for anomalies in your electrical system, ensuring tenant comfort, saving money? All of the above?

Many building owners and operators today are interested in achieving green building status through various certifications like LEED or Energy Star in the US; BREEM and DECs in Europe and UK; or the Green Star or Nabers initiative in Australia which measures and compares the environmental performance of buildings, offering a rating on a six star scale.

Many acquire the data to achieve status in these initiatives from their utility bills. While this certainly makes sense, it is limiting in terms of gaining granular knowledge of how to make your building perform better. And, it doesn’t make your building smart, just more or less green as compared to other similar buildings.

It is a bit of oversimplification to say that once you know what outcomes you expect, it’s much easier to determine next steps. Goals are definitely useful for setting a direction, but you need a system to achieve progress. In fact, the main reason for setting a goal is that it will determine what sort of system you need to put in place. Unfortunately, too often, we set the right goals inside the wrong system.

Take a simple scenario where your goal is to reduce utility waste in your building. If the system you’re using to attain that is merely looking at lagging indicators on your utility bills, you may get lucky by following your intuition, making some updates to your infrastructure and then waiting to see if your utility use was impacted when you get your bill.

Or, you can implement some smart building technology so that real-time data informs you of certain anomalies happening, you can take action and immediately know if your utility use is impacted.

Ultimately, understanding where you want to end up and checking in regularly on progress will help chart a clearer path to achieve those goals.

Contact [email protected] today to start connecting analytics to actions and become more data driven.