New Data Visualisation Tool Encourages Sustainable Buildings in Sydney

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Australia, like pretty much every other country, is facing some pressing sustainability issues. As well as committing to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, energy prices in the country are on the up, with Sydney expecting prices in its central business district to be 83% higher in 2013 than they were in 2008. Though the government appear to be on the right track (carbon tax, anyone?), the Investa Sustainability Institute has seen an opportunity in the country’s built environment. More specifically, Sydney’s office buildings.

“The energy bills for Sydney’s largest buildings are over AU$1,000,000 per year, so opportunities for large financial returns can be achieved by improving the effectiveness of building management” says Director Craig Roussac. However, managing a large building’s energy consumption is no easy task, with little visibility as to where energy is actually going. In order to overcome this problem, the Investa Sustainability Institute and Green Buildings Alive have launched Pulse - a digital tool which monitors a building’s electricity usage and updates straight to the web in near real-time.

Pulse’s data feeds update every 15 minutes, providing a daily snapshot of a building’s electricity usage. You can also see how buildings are using energy against their targets. It is hoped this almost instant feedback on how a building operates will empower building managers, with a ‘public view’ option acting as further incentive. The pressure’s on when anyone can see how much energy your building is using.

Measuring electricity usage is nothing new, but by breaking down consumption into 15 minute segments, building managers have access to a wealth of information that a quarterly bill could never convey.

“What we are doing here might look simple, but the practice draws from nearly a decade of measuring and monitoring what really makes a building greener. We’ve learnt that sustainability in our sector doesn’t have to mean a fancy façade or expensive technology. Real, measurable energy savings are the bedrock of the radical changes on the horizon for cites worldwide,” says Roussac. “Big buildings are with us for thirty to a hundred years, and we should be fine tuning them every single day. Whether you are motivated by higher electricity prices, carbon taxes, or property investment returns, everyone needs to get their electricity demand under control.”

Images courtesy of cimexus on flickr and Green Buildings Alive