I know I have not been the most communicative this year from Ember Strategies HQ, but I have a good excuse…I’ve been busy! Take a look at the newly updated clients and projects list to see why.
I am most excited to share the official launch of the Buildings Alive facility optimization program here in the U.S., after many months of initial legwork. Clearly the appetite for human-centric engineering support for energy, water, and indoor environment quality optimization is not limited to the land down under, and the launch has quickly become international. We are happy to be working not only in the E.U., U.S., and Australia, but also in Israel, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, and India!
A little background on Buildings Alive, if I have not had a chance to tell you in person, is that they are a Sydney-based firm that works with large commercial real estate owners and operators on optimizing energy, water, and indoor environment quality. I initially noticed them during my time in Australia last year because of their results – averaging 17% energy savings in every building they touch, without capital projects or equipment upgrades. Further, I was quite taken with their human-centric, programmatic approach. The Buildings Alive “secret sauce” seemed like the missing ingredient from my experience with energy efficiency programs in the U.S.
The Buildings Alive secret sauce is not all that secret – they provide their clients unlimited engineering support and have used behavior science and thousands of interactions with facility managers to optimize the tools that make up the program. Maximizing facility manager engagement and creating human-to-human connections with building engineers yields results faster than software, analytics, or widgets. A continuous, programmatic relationship keeps the insights from being lost, as they often are with audits or consultants. The Buildings Alive program includes site visits and incredibly sophisticated analytics and software, but if you focus only on those components you miss the point of the broader program.
We initially “beta tested” our approach in the U.S. at the University of California at Berkeley, in partnership with LBNL and the University of Sydney. You can view Berkeley’s case study and Department of Energy profile of the project if you are curious. We cut operational expenses without any capital investments, sure, but the quotes from the on-site staff at U.C. Berkeley are more notable than the numbers.
Buildings Alive’s clients in Australia include the Sydney Opera House, Brookfield, Charter Hall, AMP Capital, Goodman, JLL, and Investa Property Group, among others. These clients have been recently joined by U.C. Berkeley, Google, and Tishman Speyer (specifically on IEQ), and we hope to add a few more.
But Lane, there are a million energy efficiency start-ups in the U.S., why would you import one from Australia?
It has long been a goal of mine to find ways to get more engineering into day-to-day building operations, and I think the Buildings Alive program is an incredibly effective way to do that, both in terms of cost and results attained. If you are curious about results, check out the Buildings Alive website for more info, and the graphic you'll see on the front page shows how the buildings they work with actually performed yesterday! The reality is that I had to go all the way to the other side of the world to find face-to-face engineering support and honest results.
Despite all the hype about “smart” buildings, the job of a facility manager continues to get more complex, and the number of compliance reports and surveys that asset and portfolio managers are required to submit only increases, and for good reason. We should all expect that commercial buildings are operated in an energy and water efficient manner while providing the healthy indoor environment that will maximize well being, health, and productivity, but we shouldn’t assume that achieving those goals is easy! The Buildings Alive program is a way for owners and operators to make the job a bit easier and get results.
Of course, I’ll be at Greenbuild, will you? I'm happy to talk about Buildings Alive and portfolio-wide strategies for energy, water, and indoor environment quality optimization. We expect to be announcing some exciting partnerships that will be of interest to folks working on sustainability in commercial real estate very shortly, so stay tuned!