Data Management: The Secret Sauce of Successful Facility Optimization Strategies?

Broadly speaking, the objective of facility management is the optimization of building performance and meeting tenant comfort concerns. Meeting these objectives can prove difficult if you are constantly in crisis management mode and unable to make a dent in an ever-growing to-do list. It can be a struggle to prioritise tasks that bombard you from every angle – multiple, often contradictory, tenant complaints about temperature, noise, elevators and lighting levels. Couple these with a seemingly random and continuous stream of equipment break downs and you can understand why some issues seem to never get resolved. Where do you get started? Investing in systems to improve data management is a good place to start. 

A component of a successful facility management strategy is gaining an understanding of the equipment profiles of your building portfolio. This means understanding what equipment is where, as well as when and why it is being used and what its operational history. Australian property manager, GPT Group, worked with software firm Envizi to create an equipment profile of their portfolio – uncovering hidden costs such as tenant use of electrical panels for owner use only, as well as gaining insight into where best to allocate CAPEX spend. Knowing what is in their buildings has helped GPT to devise a successful facility optimization strategy to reduce costs, build their brand and increase revenue through securing of tenants, such as the National Australian Bank, who have high expectations for building performance.

There are several methods for solution providers to help their clients capture the appropriate data. These vary from the installation of smart meters to software applications that use virtual meters – where energy use metrics for different systems are pulled from BMSs – bypassing the need to install additional metering. Schneider Electric is enabling clients to capture greater data granularity by embedding electricity metering technology into IP-enabled electric circuit breakers – allowing any IP-enabled asset to be discovered and continuously monitored.

Developing an asset optimisation strategy becomes easier once you know what equipment you have and its appropriate operating parameters. Software firms like Verisae provide data-driven solutions that enable clients to devise maintenance strategies aimed at keeping equipment up and running - limiting the occurrence of unexpected failures, unsatisfied tenants and excessive operating costs. Firms, such as BuildingIQ, enable facility managers to address those “too hot, too cold” complaints by optimizing HVAC operations based on weather, occupancy and building operational data. The firm has recently acquired the Energy Information Management Services of NorthWrite to expand its platform’s energy and facility management service offering.

Facility optimization management is a lever for reducing costs and increasing revenue in the facility management industry. Data management is an enabler of optimization strategies and can provide enterprising facility managers with insights into how asset performance, energy use, and maintenance benefits or hinders facility performance. This is a positive step towards mitigating some of the stress caused by an endless stream of equipment alerts and tenant complaints. Look out for more from Verdantix on the emerging trend of facility optimization.