by Mayra Portalatin — Emerging technologies have increased the amount of data that we have at our fingertips. So much that we’ve had to come up with new terms, like “big data”, and new technologies, like the “cloud” to manage it all. As daunting as it may be to deal with large amounts of data or try to learn new technologies, one needs to also think about the great opportunities that can be driven from having this information so readily available. The truth is, we still struggle to capitalize on these opportunities because we have a hard time defining metrics that resonate, identifying the most relevant metrics, or connecting data from disparate resources to generate these metrics. In order to optimize the use of facility management (FM) data in order to “tell the story” of your facility’s sustainability efforts you need to understand your organization’s drivers. That is, what are your goals? Do you have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program? Are your initiatives being driven by outside requirements (such as executive orders or local laws)?
“Both the quantity and complexity of information available to facility management continues to explode with advancements in technology, controls and reporting tools.”
– IFMA, Exploring the current Trends and Future Outlooks for Facility Management
When your motivations are internally driven, finding the right metrics (or KPIs) can be a challenge. You need to ask yourself two questions: (1) “How does your organization make decisions?” and (2) “How do you measure success?” The answers will drive you to define the metrics, whether they are financial in nature (dollars saved) or environmentally driven (% carbon footprint reduction). Building certification systems, global reporting guidelines, and government mandates on sustainability can also help define those relevant metrics that can show an organization’s success in meeting sustainability goals. Examples of the most common goals include: waste reduction, energy reduction, and carbon footprint management. If you are not necessarily attached to a particular resource, tool, or framework, you can use these to develop your own sustainability balanced score card, which you can help you define your metrics and keep track of progress. Figure 1 shows some samples of energy and sustainability metrics that an organization may want to measure. The targets in green are those you want to meet or exceed, while yellow and red give you a relative range of where you stand in relation to that goal.
As the list of metrics can be quite exhaustive, narrowing down which ones are important requires that you think of what the data will be used for. Is it to determine how money and resources are spent? Are you trying to demonstrate that you are meeting strategic goals? Or are you simply trying to show operational improvements for your building?
As you are developing your KPIs, you also need to understand where the data that will help you measure these KPIs is coming from. Information is everywhere, including, but not limited to: FM information systems, surveys, utility companies, service companies, vendors, building automation systems, energy management systems, and even your staff. Managing all these sources of data can be daunting, but creating an information source matrix like the one in Table 1 can help you navigate through what can potentially be information overload.
So you’ve decided on what KPIs will help you tell your story, you know where information is, now you need to start measuring and monitoring. This requires that you establish a plan of how often you’ll be reporting, what exactly you’ll be providing in this report, who’ll be doing the reporting, and to whom the report will go to. Let’s take achieving an ENERGY STAR Certification as one of our KPI examples. ENERGY STAR requires a “rating” of 75 or better, as measured against similar buildings in the Portfolio Manager database.
In order to determine your rating, you will need to collect information outlined in Table 2 from a number of internal sources, such as your CMMS or your space planning software. This information is entered into Portfolio Manager in order to generate the rating. This includes either manually entering metering data or arranging for the direct upload of the data from the utility company. Once the rating is generated you will know whether or not you’ve met your goal or if you need additional energy management improvements. If you did not meet your goal, you can continue to track your energy consumption and even energy conservation measures in order to see how these impact your rating. Entering data on a monthly basis will not only allow you to keep track of your consumption, but it can help you detect issues early on, as well as alert you to when you may be ready to apply for ENERGY STAR Certification. It also makes it easy to apply for re-certification of your building if you continue to maintain the data on a regular basis. This task of maintaining this information should be assigned to one individual, typically an energy manager or a member of the facility management team.
Healthy People Impact Profits
- New Caf Vendor
- Healthy Choices
- Locally Grown
- Pesticide Free
- Wellness Program
- Diet & Nutrition Education
- On-site Exercise
- Gym Memberships
- Team Sports
- Health & Wellness Evaluations
- Reduce 1 sick day per employee per year
- Estimated savings: $105,000 for a year
But what about those metrics that may not be common to track or for which guidance may not be as available? There is a lot of data that is at your fingertips that can help you tell that story. An insurance company set out to do just that, find a way to show that promoting a healthy lifestyle for their employees would translate into the company’s profit. They wanted to link finance to people. The company implemented several programs and targeted measures related to employee health and wellness. The metric that was going to help them tell this story was a reduction in employee sick time over the period of time that the programs were in effect. If the employees were not missing days of work, then technically they were not losing days of productivity. In addition, by having reduced sick days, the company would also see a reduction in health costs. All this information could be obtained from the Human Resources Department through their employee tracking tools. In the end, the insurance company was able to show a reduction of one day per person in the first year, which translated to approximately $105,000 in health costs for the year. Data gathering may be time consuming and requires a strategic approach in order to get the right information. However, it is a worthwhile investment for you and your team, as it will help you:
- Determine how money and resources are spent (financial)
- Demonstrate alignment and meeting of strategic goals (organizational)
- Improve the operation of buildings or organization (operational)
In order to harness the power of “big data” we need to stop thinking of data as something that only the IT department deals with. In facility management, the more we own it and embrace it, the more it will help us tell the sustainability story.
About the Author: Mayra Portalatin is a Civil & Environmental Engineer with over 15 years of consulting experience in the built environment ranging from condition assessments to sustainability audits. She has presented on the subject of sustainability and the built environment to property and facility managers in various venues including Greenbuild and IFMA’s World Workplace. Mayra is also an IFMA instructor for the Sustainability Facility Professional certification.