Did You Know That By 2025 Buildings Will be the Largest Emitters of Greenhouse Gases on the Planet?

I was taken back a bit by some statistics I read over on the IBM Smarter Buildings website:

  • In the U.S., buildings are consuming 70% of all electricity, and wasting 50% of their share with inefficiency
  • Buildings produce 48% of global carbon emissions and by 2025 they will be the largest emitters of greenhouse gases on our planet.

The good news is that there is a solution to reducing your building’s carbon footprint and improving your efficiency. In order to do so, you must start by understanding your building data. This means that as a Facilities Manager, you must understand what your building data is trying to tell you. Your buildings are creating more data than ever before, and learning how to manage the volume and velocity of information is now a strategic imperative for Facilities Managers.

The key is to continue thinking about new and innovative ways to unlock insights and make improved decisions through your data. This is especially true in terms of building data, as real-estate property often represents one of the largest expenses for an organization. IBM reports that in some cases, up to 30 percent of annual operating funds are spent on real estate and facility assets.

Just think about how modest improvements as to how you leverage your building’s data can lead to returns on your bottom line. These statistics show the importance of understanding how to leverage your building’s data and know what your building is telling you. One example that shows the power of building data comes from IBM’s Rochester, Minnesota campus. This video does a great job highlighting the program, and details what Smarter Buildings is all about:

The Rochester pilot has led to IBM working with numerous state, local and federal agencies, to optimize their facilities data. Under the Smarter Buildings initiatives, organizations can unlock their data and witness returns on how their organizations manage facilities. Below are seven benefits of unlocking insights from your building data:

  1. Decrease your buildings operating cost through consolidating data
  2. Perform analytics to optimize energy usage
  3. Analyze data in real-time to monitor equipment and respond to alerts
  4. Extend the life of your building assets through real-time monitoring
  5. Develop a holistic view of your building system: Understand your building as one complete and interconnected entity by mapping and connecting various data streams across your agency.
  6. Reduce energy consumption by evaluating data
  7. Decrease operational and maintenance costs, and direct the savings to fund other investments

Although the benefits are clear, there are still challenges. Like most big data programs, a core challenge for Facilities Managers is that data is often spread across multiple parts of an organization, and different teams leverage different tools, or maybe even vendors, to optimize their facility infrastructure.

As Facilities Managers are tasked with meeting aggressive energy consumption targets year over year, now is the time to explore a new way to manage your facility data. This will transform how your agency deals with your data, unleashing new insights and opportunities from your data. Learning how to leverage your building’s data is an essential step forward for your agency to decrease costs and improve efficiencies.

GovLoop has an upcoming white paper and training around Smarter Buildings. Working on these projects, I keep thinking about renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He often spoke about the philosophy of organic architecture, the idea that buildings should integrate with their natural surroundings. “No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. IT should be of the hill, belonging to it. Hill and house should live together, each the happier for the other,” said Wright. This philosophy influenced Wright’s architecture, as seen by his famous work at Falling Water.

Wright’s philosophies about organic architecture are important to consider when thinking about how modern buildings are not only designed, but also how they are managed. Our buildings are complex ecosystems, and like Wright believed, they should fit seamlessly into our surroundings. We can improve how our buildings operate in their natural environment, and improve the ecosystem they create by unlocking insights from our buildings data.

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The IBM Analytics Solution Center (ASC) is part of a network of global analytics centers that provides clients with the analytics expertise to help them solve their toughest business problems. Check out their Analytics to Outcomes group on GovLoop.

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