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Getting The Most From Accurate Building Data Collection

The art of facility management encompasses many aspects—from how to calculate square feet (including usable), mapping assets, preventive maintenance, energy efficiency, and collecting building data. The latter, is important to ensure the optimization of the former. Accurate building data collection can help maintain the overall health and life cycle of buildings (and their assets), teach us how to calculate square footage, work order management, diagnosing trends, consolidating information, and ensuring cost-effectiveness. 

Where are we at today?

In the past twelve years, building data collection has been moved toward the forefront of facility management with federal regulations such as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  The 2007 act aimed to push the United States to have greater energy independence and security by increasing production of clean, renewable fuels, promoting researching on greenhouse gas capture and storage, and increasing efficiency on products, vehicles, and buildings.  Prior to these acts, the Energy Information Administration (“EIA”)—a part of the US Department of Energy—would lay the groundwork by conducting Commercial Building Energy Consumption Surveys (“CBECS”) every 4 years, with the last data from 2012.  These building reports helped facility managers statistically understand their buildings, see where the most work was needed, and how their energy consumption and efficiency matched up country-wide.

The United States has the world’s largest commercial sector energy use, correlated with its average per-capita income, among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) countries.  (Comparatively within the Americas, the Mexico/Chili had the smallest amount of commercial energy consumption among OECD nations.)  In 2012, about 25% of total U.S. energy consumption was consumed in commercial buildings. 

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Why does this data matter?

In the commercial sector, accurately collecting, measuring, and managing data on energy use will lead to higher energy efficiency and allow facility managers to comparatively stack their buildings and it's assets against national averages.  This will allow for facility managers to see what’s working well, where improvements are needed, and what changes will be needed or could be made.  Hand-in-hand with this data, facility managers will also be able to assess the cost-saving measures energy efficiency will provide their buildings.  

The Energy Star program relies heavily on the data put forth by CBECS.  Energy Star uses the data as a standard to assess energy performance and provide those at the top with its label.  Energy Star promotes itself as a, “program that stands alone as the most successful voluntary energy efficiency movement in history”.  In the public eye, having this label is important, as it is one of the most recognizable symbols on energy efficiency.  In its most recent annual report, they state that 85% of people associate their label with energy efficiency. 

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How can facility management maximize this effort and improve data collection?

For existing buildings, having a facility management software implemented will help consolidate all the needed information into one convenient place and save money down the road.  For new constructions, building data can accurately be collected through Building Information Modeling (“BIM”).  This process will create and manage information from the beginning to end of a project and will conveniently digitalize all relevant information from the start.

BIM vs. Legacy File Systems download link

Taking steps such as these, will help the commercial sector reduce its carbon footprint.  Accurately collecting building data will have the power to shape a building’s future by learning from its past.

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