Building data: Harness the power

Posted on by Skylar Ritwo

Every day, commercial real estate produces colossal amounts of data – and that trend isn’t going away. Leveraging building data and analytics for more effective CRE operations was top of mind at DisruptCRE in New York City. Industry executives discussed today’s best practices and what extracting real value from CRE data could look like in the future.

Disrupt CRE 2017, New York

So much building data…

As CRE owners upgrade aging building systems and acquire new assets, the byproduct is more data for the organization. A lot more data. Danny Fishman of GAIA Real Estate put it bluntly during a panel session, “Everyone has data. But not everyone knows how to analyze it or what they want to get out of it.”

Data is constantly generated from systems like turnstiles, RFID badging systems, building automation systems, elevators, security cameras, smart utility meters, occupancy sensors, air quality sensors and a plethora of other IoT devices. Often, this information is isolated in siloed spreadsheets, databases, and software spread out across an organization. Extracting actionable opportunities to save money, improve building functionality, and hold building operators accountable isn’t the simplest task.

…But what can you DO with it?

Pressure is intensifying for building operators to weave data and analytics into their day-to-day tasks. “Be more proactive! Optimize operations! Save money!” they’re told. In a world where emergencies reign supreme and priorities shift rapidly as new critical issues arise, many overextended professionals don’t know where to start.

Sadly, there is no value in piles of raw data. Without the right tools, it’s a cumbersome and time-consuming effort to comb through heaps of data looking for opportunities to save on energy and maintenance costs. Additionally, time to focus on harder-to-quantify elements, like enhancing the comfort and satisfaction of key tenants, is a luxury many operators don’t have. Unfortunately, they’re missing out on a big slice of the savings pie.

Building Data
Skylar Ritwo and Darlene Bereznicki, Switch Automation

Consider this: Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors. According to this Harvard study, buildings that deliver a high-quality indoor air experience have a measurable impact on tenants’ experience, productivity, and health level. And as we know, happy tenants mean happy wallets. What can owners do to harness the true power of building data? Extract and synthesize critical information with tools that generate actionable insights.

To keep building occupants comfortable and productive, we must aggregate the building data that our systems, equipment, and sensors continuously collect and translate it into a unified language. By layering this information together, the data tells a story that allows users to observe patterns, make correlations, benchmark performance, and identify inefficiencies. Robert Entin, CIO of Vornado put it simply, “We’re trying to facilitate the best possible experience for our customers and tenants.”

The future of building data: Visibility and accountability

More data means increased visibility into systems performance – all the way down to the device and sensor level. With this transparency, building managers are not only empowered to operate their properties at the highest level possible, they can hold others accountable when systems aren’t performing the way they should be by using data-backed stories. This is the immediate future of smart building data. It will benefit the bottom line for real estate organizations and the overall experience of the tenants who occupy those buildings daily.

In the words of Sukanya Paciorek, EVP and Head of Asset Management for Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp (BNYDC), “Real estate is a human-centric enterprise, and that’s not going away.” To stay competitive in the saturated commercial real estate market, executives must leverage smart building solutions to cultivate an exemplary tenant experience and to turn valuable information into cash. This is a key strategy to attract and retain high-quality, long-term tenants. Companies that fail to evolve will find themselves losing market share to their more tech savvy competitors.

Interested in learning how a smart building solution could increase your ROI?


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