Using smart building platforms to facilitate green certification

By Switch Automation • June 11, 2019

There are lots of reasons to pursue green certifications for your buildings: reducing environmental impact, tenant attraction and retention, brand differentiation, occupant health and comfort, and operations and maintenance (O&M) cost reductions.

In the first installment of this series, we highlighted the green building certification types that matter most in commercial real estate. In this post, we examine how sustainability teams have traditionally achieved green certification, and how there’s a new, more efficient process now available.

How sustainability teams chased green certifications before

In the past, earning green certification for existing buildings was a time-consuming, laborious, and often frustrating process that involved onsite visits for evaluation, analysis and data wrangling from multiple siloed departments. When a team finally got everything they needed, they would have to enter their findings into numerous spreadsheets to produce the reports and documentation green certifications require.

This process could take months, and by the time a team was done tracking down and gathering information, the data was often outdated, meaning the exercise may have to start all over again. This lengthy process caused many building owners simply to not bother pursuing green certification.   

Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) is the only certification body to exclusively administer project certifications for various rating systems. GBCI took notice of this outdated process and created Arc. An open platform built to integrate current and future standards, guidelines, protocols and systems, Arc helps bridge the gap between raw data and certification.

The role of smart building platforms in green certification

Smart building platforms are also taking on this challenge, automatically capturing building information for better, more data-driven decision making. They streamline communications between departments and across different sources, helping to efficiently measure progress, create performance benchmarks and determine how to conserve resources.

Smart building platforms remove cumbersome, manual processes from green certification by providing real-time data using Internet of Things (IoT) integrations. Some of these platforms work with your building’s existing systems to optimize old equipment while preparing them for future enhancements. Implementing the right smart building platform supports green building certification in a few key ways:

Retro-commissioning

Retro-commissioning is a process that documents and analyzes existing mechanical and electrical systems to optimize building performance. In addition to supporting the green certification documentation process by gathering data more efficiently and within a single source, retro-commissioning can lower bills, extend the life of existing systems and reduce the volume of required maintenance.

Continuous commissioning

Continuous commissioning is an ongoing scheduled process where system tune-ups occur regularly. Continuous commissioning involves identifying new tenant usage patterns and calibrating systems to their needs. These ongoing, incremental improvements maintain cost savings and create more reliable systems over time.

Streamlining the certification process

Advanced smart building platforms use APIs to continuously share building performance data directly with green certification organizations such as GRESB. This simple pathway toward green certification can save hundreds of hours of manual documentation and analysis. Additionally, because ongoing data collection facilitates continuous commissioning, buildings can continue to gain efficiency, making it easier to maintain green certification once it’s first attained.

If your organization is considering pursuing green building certification, go in with eyes wide open and be sure to understand which certification type is right for you. Closely evaluate the certification requirements because critical documentation could take longer to aggregate and configure than you expect, especially if you rely on legacy methods of data aggregation.

With more certification programs than ever and a growing desire for architects, designers and engineers to consider tenant desires and environmental needs, smart building programs promise a better, faster way to meet these certification demands.  

What are the other benefits of investing in a unique smart building platform? Find out in the final part of our green building certification series.

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