People who design, own or manage buildings today face a number of challenges, including dealing with a sluggish economy, tighter regulatory requirements, ageing equipment and rising energy costs, none which are going anywhere soon.

Now more than ever, facility managers need to make smarter decisions to create a sustainable future – for themselves and Australia.

Energy efficiency has been in the spotlight for decades, particularly in regard to buildings, which today account for 42 per cent of the world’s energy use. Today, many facility managers are turning to big data analytics technology and building management systems (BMS) to automate their facilities, receive information about their building’s performance and energy usage, and identify root causes and correct deficiencies in buildings. This allows them to convert this intelligence into “actionable information” for troubleshooting and preventative maintenance, as well as solving more complicated operational challenges. More importantly, it offers a genuine opportunity to change the way building information is managed and decisions are made.

The journey to creating a sustainable building starts with taking a comprehensive holistic view, which entails looking at what the current challenges are, how the building functions and operates, who occupies the space and what the ideal outcomes are. Here is a path to implementation:

Identify a deployment method

Some facility managers choose to build their own on-site building data analytics system that can be customised specifically for – and integrated into – a building’s current system or some decide to have oversight from remote experts.

One cost-effective and efficient option is a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) data analytics solution. Data is automatically pulled from building management systems and analysed in a virtual cloud environment. This gives building managers both the powerful insights of data analytics and the flexibility of remote access and control – anytime, anywhere.

Another option is MSaaS (low cost, with expert support), which combines SaaS analytics solution with the oversight of remote engineering experts. This allows experts to manage the technology, interpret and analyse the data and most importantly, act on the opportunities identified.

Identify the process

For a positive outcome, rolling out new technology requires clear planning and strong management. It requires the establishment of early and clear management processes that interlock the vision and outline a roadmap for the implementation of the new technology and how the organisation will take advantage of the actionable information. What is most important is creating a clear plan on how the team will take the findings and use them to enhance the buildings performance.

Periodically validate results

Data dashboards help facility staff to know where inefficiencies exist, not why. Data analytics software can interpret this data and convert it into “actionable information” so facility managers can prioritise and proactively address issues for long-term solutions. With this information, it is important that it is actioned if organisations want to reap the full benefits.

Remember that no matter how good the analytics solution, executing on the findings is what drives results. With knowledgeable staff and the right technology, management can make informed decisions that go beyond band-aid maintenance solutions. Data analytics means managers can get on the front foot to not only improve energy use, but also to improve comfort and reduce inefficient processes. In turn, these benefits are amplified through cost savings, improved occupant satisfaction, and productivity.

Using data analytics in-house or with ongoing support from experienced building engineers can have a positive impact on energy consumption, operational efficiency, occupant comfort, and the financial well-being of buildings. The right big data analytics solution will proactively help facility managers achieve sustainable building outcomes and build a lower carbon footprint – all while driving a positive ROI, increasing portfolio value, and maximising plant investments.

Ultimately, data analytics provides significant benefits for the business, consumers and the environment. It allows building owners and operators to reach and maintain a higher level of building intelligence and performance by providing a baseline, and prioritising actions to improve performance, which impacts the bottom line. Not only does this technology require minimal effort or cost but it ensures benefits are ongoing.

For this reason, big data analytics is now becoming an essential tool to drive sustainability, now and for the long-term.