Building performance has to be measured before it can be enhanced. And the way to measure and enhance is machine learning: using aggregated asset data, meaningful insight can be garnered into the energy use of the building, for example, or the presence of occupants, or the health and wellbeing of those occupants. In the aggregate, building operators can also monitor and maintain the health of their machinery, and schedule maintenance in ways that are more amenable to occupants, whether they are residents or employees.
Quite obviously this feeds in to the need for increased data reporting. As the UKGBC has made clear, the future of net zero carbon will demand a considerable change in the construction industry. At the time of writing, construction accounts for somewhere in the region of 40 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, and progress to decrease that disproportionate contribution has been slower than in many other industries. Today a building can only meet the criteria for net zero compliance by volunteering data about energy consumption and energy use. But as the UKGBC also makes clear in their framework for a definition of net zero buildings, this voluntary program is likely to become compulsory very soon, leaving buildings without aggregated data unprepared.
One of the reasons that integration (and process integration) matter so much is that designers, builders and operators must work collectively to plan for compliance and for changes (also fast approaching) to the tax code around energy use, both in construction and in operation. A whole lifecycle approach is already being taken, in other words, by legislators and by advisors to the UK government like the UK Committee on Climate Change. So the already pressing need to ‘bridge the gap’ between construction and operation will soon be a matter of law rather than of practicality.
There are other benefits to asset aggregation of course: it underlines everything that we have written so far about safety enhancement, occupant satisfaction, and the development of a wellness metric, to say nothing at all about the attendant cost savings and compliance enhancements. But this happy coincidence – that a whole lifecycle approach is needed both to increase efficiency, and to comply with new climate legislation – gives us hope that, since both problems admit of the same solution, both problems may be solved at the same time. Data aggregation will, to that extent, also be essential in future-proofing developments and ensuring ROI for investors over time.