Navigant Research Blog

What It Will Take to Make Healthy Buildings a Business Priority

— October 19, 2017

Healthy buildings are an emerging hot topic at industry events and in facility trade publications. In September 2017, I participated in the half-day Healthy, Adaptive Buildings Summit at this year’s GreenBiz Verge Conference. The conversations were invigorating, shifting from environmental justice to workplace transformation and back again. I was left with a lingering question: Are healthy buildings the next overhyped trend? Does the movement aim to encompass technology and business but will fail because of a misguided, yet well-intended focus? Not if industry leaders refine their message.

The panelist noted the similar lack of a common lexicon, or a range of definitions that reflect the wide stakeholder groups showing interest in the idea of healthy buildings. The opening panel discussion during the summit reminded me of ongoing conversations I have in the broader building technologies arena on terminology: Is the building smart, intelligent, a structure of connected technologies made up of systems? What threshold defines that next generation space? Panelists shared their differing, yet parallel points of view and these definitions resonate with me:

  • Health is basic, the absence of things wrong.
  • Well-being is how you feel about your health, and how you respond emotionally.
  • Wellness describes the proactive steps you can take to maximize both.

These descriptions clarify health at a personal level, but how can these ideas be extended to buildings? Healthy buildings can describe the effects from equipment operations on energy consumption, sustainability, environmental justice, and even employee productivity. If stakeholders can align their messaging, there is a great opportunity in the movement to make healthy buildings the next umbrella concept for the facilities industry. The answer is adaptability—flexibility in how to deploy and use technology in addressing multidimensional business objectives. The second theme of the summit, which is a valuable dimension that can showcase technology as a means to the wide-reaching goals of the healthy building movement.

3-30-300

JLL’s 3-30-300 Calculator has become the go-to metric for explaining why the intelligent buildings market has pivoted and the focus has moved from energy up the chain to that big 300 number—the cost of people and the aim to improve productivity. This metric is powerful because it speaks to the heart of the business perspective. While sustainability, social responsibility, and other potentially amorphous corporate goals are important from a branding and positioning standpoint, the bottom line still drives investment. If the healthy buildings movement can use technology and the data and analytics from the intelligent buildings market to quantify productivity, the investment is worthwhile. This is no simple task; data is key. There are so many variables that affect the measure of productivity and the industry has failed to create a single equation to measure the 300 just yet.

New Calculation of Adaptability

Thinking of adaptability as a lens on how to select and deploy technology for use in multiple ways may just be the framework the industry needs to make healthy buildings a substantial initiative, meet multiple stakeholder needs, and move away from surface-level buzz. Real-time data on occupancy and movement, indoor air quality, feedback on comfort, and data on business output could be valuable measures for a new calculation of adaptability. The measure of adaptability is also attractive as a way of reframing the conversation in line with the focus on the occupant we hear in the market more and more. Can adaptability describe the healthy building movement and provide the data that key decision makers need to characterize how their facilities are best in class? I would argue this approach can create a common conversation around dynamic systems with automated, ongoing performance improvement and a way to root the soft concept of health in the stiff framework of technology enablement.

 

Data – The Foundation of Value in the Energy Market Transformation

— October 17, 2017

I attended GreenBiz’s annual Verge Conference in mid-September and found a unifying theme throughout the diverse discussions on the intersection of technology and sustainability: data is the key to market transformation. The topics of the conference’s sessions spanned from environmental justice to grid modernization, but in every conversation and demonstration, it was clear that access to, and use of, good data is the foundation for innovation and value creation. An unwavering commitment to environmental justice was the undisputable, yet unofficial, secondary theme of this year’s event. I would argue this important societal goal can be tackled alongside the transformation of the energy industry by using data and technology.

Decentralization Is Coming

Panelists on the plenary session roundtable for day 1 represented the major contingencies in the US utility landscape—a municipal, a retailer, and an investor-owned utility. From three points of view, these industry leaders agreed that decentralization is coming and “the traditional utility business model is obsolete, if not dead.” At Navigant, we have been articulating this time of market disruption as the emergence of the Energy Cloud. We are exploring how various platforms are creating value through business models built around a more dynamic relationship between energy supply and demand. The foundation of this new energy reality is digital transformation, in which data fuels business opportunity. Buildings2Grid (B2G) integration is just one of the platforms that illustrates the power of data in creating new business opportunities for utilities, as discussed in Navigant Research’s Building-to-Grid Integration report.

As one panelist put it, “Markets move at the pace of innovation, grid moves at the pace of regulation,” which can place a significant hurdle in front of a large proportion of our energy providers. So, how can utilities take a seat at the table in a new energy reality? It starts with data. Navigant Research took another look at utility opportunities in the Energy Cloud with a complementary report, Intelligent Building Technologies for Value-Added Services. The connectivity and data-driven insight of intelligent building solutions create the roadmap for redefining how commercial buildings operate and opportunities for new services to optimize energy use and generation. Or, as one of the more memorable lines from that Verge utility plenary put it, “great innovation is where megabits meet megawatts.”

Across the board, electricity suppliers are unified by a fundamental goal to keep lights on—to support reliable and resilient power. Intelligent building technologies provide a digital lens into commercial customer operations and a pathway to new engagement models for ensuring that power is reliable and resilient but also supports broader customer goals such as sustainability and operational efficiency.

 

IoT – A New Source of Competitive Advantage in Commercial Real Estate

— August 29, 2017

Whatever business you are operating inside a commercial building, if you aren’t collecting, storing, using, and learning from data, then you are not doing your job. That is the sentiment in today’s intelligent buildings market. Commercial real estate faces this reality as the effective use of data, analytics, and Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a competitive advantage. The use of all these tools can maximize occupancy, amplify tenant satisfaction, and even attract and retain employees.

Intelligent building solutions entered the market as tools to improve specific facility systems—HVAC, lighting, and physical security—and it started with connecting devices. Once the devices were connected, the next step was collecting data and analyzing it to be communicated visually. These intelligent building technologies improved the operations of equipment and demonstrated value through the lens of energy efficiency. What makes IoT unique is the ability to unify and process data at the enterprise level, which has been the vision of the intelligent buildings market. IoT enables more cost-effective data acquisition, aggregation, communication, analysis, and ultimately, performance improvement.

Capitalizing on IoT for Fully Occupied, High Value Commercial Real Estate

Journalist Oliver Burkeman wrote in 2009, “Without most of us quite noticing when it happened, the web went from being a strange new curiosity to a background condition of everyday life.” Today, we are entering the next era in which uninterrupted access to data from our mobile phones and wearables to legacy building systems can create a seamless data profile of an enterprise portfolio of facilities to redefine the occupant’s experience, create new productivity for operations and service providers, and create more value for building owners. A holistic, data-driven approach to real estate management is critical as we look into the future of workspaces.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that today’s students will have 8-10 jobs by the time they are 38. Furthermore, the agency estimates that by 2020, 50% of the workforce in the United States will consist of freelancers. What this means is that the demand and use of commercial office space will look completely different than it does today. Technology and an IoT approach to facility optimization can help real estate owners differentiate their buildings to win the competition for tenants and even employees.

What is the process to move the real estate industry toward the digital office of the future? How can IoT deliver cost savings, sustainability, and customer satisfaction? Join us on September 12 at 2 p.m. EDT for an Intel-sponsored Navigant Research webinar. We’ll explore how Rudin Management is working with Intel and Prescriptive Data to demonstrate how IoT can optimize the occupant experience in the commercial office.

 

Capitalizing on Data for Intelligent Buildings Market Expansion

— August 9, 2017

The intelligent buildings market continues to evolve, and an increasing focus on the value of data opens the door to inventive offerings that speak to critical pain points for commercial customers within the market. Energy efficiency remains an important value proposition for intelligent building solutions, but cost savings associated with utility bills is an insufficient driver for market transformation in facilities management. The push toward the Internet of Things (IoT) as the framework for digital transformation of commercial buildings and the next iteration of the intelligent building capitalizes on the multitude of nonenergy benefits derived from facility data. The next frontier is moving from energy efficiency to energy optimization and from data-driven improvements to the occupant experience.

Smarter Interactions with Energy

Building-to-Grid Integration, a Navigant Research report, presents big picture energy opportunities for intelligent buildings. Data, and the insights derived from it through analytics, elevate business opportunities for managing energy in commercial and industrial (C&I) buildings. A growing number of intelligent building solutions utilize data to direct an orchestration of systems to optimize energy use—the focus is on advancement and a more sophisticated use of technologies than simply using data to create dashboards that report on system performance.

Building-to-grid (B2G) is an emerging construct that creates an opportunity to generate new value streams with energy services as a foundation. The B2G platform is the framework for transactions around the energy supply and demand associated with the facilities and distributed energy resources of C&I sites. The bundling of advisory services, data communications, controls, and analytics will likely be the foundation of B2G solutions that enable the aggregation and coordination of C&I facilities to meet specific economic and corporate objectives. These objectives include power reliability, sustainability, and revenue growth.

Fundamental Shift in Enhancing the Occupant Experience

The Intelligent Building Technologies for Value-Added Services report from Navigant Research explores how utilities can leverage IoT as a platform for new offerings to improve customer engagement and satisfaction. The benefit of the focus on data creation and analysis showcases the many nonenergy benefits that align with shifting customer expectations around technology. The number of commercial customers already investing in IoT solutions should result in changes to the consumption and demand patterns utilities use for resource planning. Furthermore, rapid growth in IoT for intelligent buildings market represents a significant revenue opportunity for new offerings. At the same time, it represents a threat to existing revenue streams for traditional electric services as these technology-enabled customers reshape how their building operations and energy consumption align.

IoT value-added services can be designed around financial incentives and expert advisory that builds off the existing core capabilities of C&I demand-side management programs. IoT intelligent building advisory offerings can leverage existing core domain expertise around energy efficiency and domain management, but would be amplified by partnerships with IoT players currently in the market.

These new Navigant Research reports underscore the expansive opportunities associated with intelligent building data. Early solution provider adopters will need to develop strategic partnerships and revisit branding and positioning, but the upside to these challenges will far outweigh the costs.

 

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