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Working Smart, Working Fast: How Agile development and UX design are at the heart of SIERA

Software is one of the greatest tools of the modern world, providing us with a variety of options for any job we have at hand. When you use a software product, you want it to help you with your task as seamlessly as possible, and to address the major struggles faced. You can then focus your efforts on the task at hand, rather than the tool which is supposed to be helping you with that task.

We are all consumers of software and appreciate good UX design (User Experience) when we see it. I am sure some of us here are quite fond of unlocking our phones using our fingerprint rather than the classic 4-digit code. It makes our tasks simpler, quicker and easier.

A good tool though, comes from putting a lot of thought and effort into making it as intuitive as possible. It is through Agile Development and careful User Experience design that we shape our software product, SIERA.

SIERA LOGO WEB LANDSCAPE

Read: 110 seconds to understand how SIERA Sustainability Software can help you


Agile Development

As part of developments within the industry, and the ways we work always growing and developing, SIERA is designed in a responsive and agile format, this is called Agile Development. Though we use an overall roadmap, the team works in such a way that we can adapt areas of our time, projects, workflow and focus, to match business and client needs. Working in two-week sprints, we open the discussion for any necessary changes to project or scope, and the opportunity to reflect on current workflow practices and focus areas, adapt them, or suggest improvements as a team where needed. A team will always be growing and developing.

SIERA is designed in a responsive and agile format, this is called Agile Development. Click To Tweet

User Experience Design

Through the entire process, User Experience design plays a part amongst every area of the team, and is done by every member of the team. A software team should always have at least one member who has UX (User Experience) design as part of their job role (that’s me), a person who has the time and skills to carefully think through UX design and how this is implemented into the system. However, it is not only down to that person, every member of the team and business should have the opportunity to contribute to how things should be built and experienced, as this brings in a pool of thoughts built upon the years of expertise each team member has built up.

Discussions should be live through the entire development of a piece of software, everyone is involved early on at the inception of a piece of development or new addition to the software, and then, though the design and specification should be set early on, anyone can share their thoughts throughout the process.

This will then form together a much more well-rounded, robust and effective tool.

EVORA Global SIERA Asset Electricity profile

A fresh pair of eyes

And so, it is often very useful to get a fresh pair of eyes, when someone else looks at the same tool as you, you will often find they view it from different perspectives. As Quality Assurance Tester on SIERA, and UX Designer, I can spend a lot of time staring at SIERA, and in many ways, get used to the way it is and how it functions, so when something could be improved, as is always the case with software, it becomes less noticeable. As to me, that’s just the way it is. That is where a fresh pair of eyes is key, though I can still view the product from a good perspective, I can’t see everything, and have often found that other members of the team will raise new ideas and thoughts on the current work flows, which is amazing. A UX designer should never be left alone.

We can’t do everything, but we CAN do everything we need to… (being realistic)

We can’t do absolutely everything in life, and we all know that, but we can do everything we need to. Well with software development it’s the same. We don’t have time to implement every idea we ever think of, because it’s simply impossible, however through being realistic and honest with our time, and careful thought and prioritisation, we can achieve everything we need to; first usually as an MVP…

I hear the term MVP a lot, so what is an MVP? An MVP is a Minimum Viable Product, this is a version of the product which meets all the minimum requirements of what needs to be delivered. This takes much skill and discernment to define, and varies greatly depending on the software purpose. For example, if something needs to be functional and readable so it can be delivered to the user, then that’s the MVP, but then if it won’t be released until it looks really sharp, then that is part of the MVP as well. Keeping an MVP in mind is a good way of ensuring there isn’t time spent creating unnecessary enhancements, which can be re-prioritised and added later.

EVORA Global SIERA EPC data

All these approaches form together to become the heart of SIERA’s robustness and effectiveness.


So, what exactly does this mean for our clients and product?

It means that SIERA can become the solution that will fill in the major gap in everyone’s workflow that is becoming a blocker, saving them time and effort, and addressing the long-term pain-points that users have been experiencing for years, then delivering these in the best way possible.

SIERA can become the solution that will fill in the major gap in everyone’s workflow that is becoming a blocker, saving them time and effortClick To Tweet

A good example of this is our Monitoring & Targeting system, with many companies looking for a solution to gather, store and display half hour data consumption for individual meters in an intuitive, clear and effective way, SIERA hit the market to fill in that gap. It did this through clear visual display, navigation and customisation, providing the basics of what was needed most.

Data can be compared against system overlays and user-defined overlays. The user can set operating hours for a meter, to visually differentiate when different amounts of energy should be used. The user can also set Alerts for their Meter, ensuring the user can tell when something has gone awry. All clearly displayed, as seen below.

EVORA Global SIERA Monitoring and Targeting module

As software users, users of our own product, and experienced veterans in the sustainability industry, we understand the importance of a good software and what it is this software needs to do. So, watch this space, SIERA is going to develop and evolve even more than it already has!


Have any questions about the specifics or want to find out more?
Get in touch!

110 Seconds To Understand How SIERA Sustainability Software Can Help You

Watch Our New Video Now!

Watch our new animated explainer video for SIERA, which gives you a high-level overview of everything our innovative sustainability software solution can do for you.

Depending on where you are and how convenient it is to watch a video, you can:

1.     Watch the video with the sound on – recommended

2.     Watch the video with the sound off – the captions will allow you to follow along

3.     Read the video script, which is pasted below for your convenience

We hope you enjoy the video and that you will want to learn more by attending one of our webinar demonstrations or getting in touch to book a one-to-one demo.

Thanks for watching!


SIERA Sustainability Software – the right choice for your business


Video Script

Every year, environmental management becomes more complex and reporting requirements become more stringent.

Which is why the sustainability experts at EVORA came up with SIERA – a unique and innovative software solution.

Not only does SIERA make all your sustainability reporting easy – it also enables you to quickly identify energy savings in your buildings.

Not only does SIERA make all your sustainability reporting easy – it also enables you to quickly identify energy savings in your buildingsClick To Tweet

Never before has collecting and validating your environmental data been so easy. Whether it’s automating data collection, or dragging and dropping your data from Excel files, SIERA makes a complex process simple.

The intelligent modelling capability covers a range of regulatory and voluntary reporting requirements, quickly and intuitively.

In fact, SIERA saves our clients up to 70% of their time spent on GRESB reporting.

SIERA also gives you an overview of your property and portfolio performance, helping you mitigate regulatory risk and prioritise improvement opportunities.

SIERA’s ground-breaking Energy Monitoring and Targeting module automatically alerts you to energy efficiency opportunities.

Savings are easy to identify and can be achieved without any capital expenditure.

SIERA gives you an overview of property and portfolio performance, helping you mitigate regulatory risk and prioritise improvement opportunitiesClick To Tweet

Whether you’re seeking a hands-on solution, or a fully managed service with EVORA’s expert consultants – SIERA is the right choice for your business.

SIERA is already managing over 4,000 properties and is being rapidly adopted by large organisations across the globe.

Isn’t it time you used SIERA too?


 To learn more about SIERA and discover how it can save you time, stress, and money, please get in touch today to arrange a demonstration.

 


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

Six weeks in the life of an EVORA Data Analyst

The EVORA team has grown by 108% since May last year. Jenny, our new EVORA Data Analyst tells us what the first six weeks of EVORA life have been like.


Straight into GRESB deadline season

I joined as an EVORA Data Analyst at an extremely busy time of the year, it was the business end of the GRESB window, which resulted in me being plunged into the deep end from my first day. After my initial induction where I learnt more about EVORAs recent expansion I began on my first (of many!) GRESB tasks. GRESB was a completely new concept to me, and the amount of data which needed to be collected and analysed was mind-boggling, but thankfully we had SIERA to take a lot of the pain away. Whilst being given responsibility on the first day can be a little bit daunting it was great for me as the usual first day nerves didn’t have time to take hold. The main problem was the fact that it was the hottest day of the year and everyone in the office was melting!


CRC – allowances, annual reports and data audits

With GRESB behind us just a couple of weeks after joining, the CRC deadline was then looming. At University, I had briefly studied the CRC so I knew the basic principles and the intention of the legislation. However, I wasn’t aware of the amount of data which needed to be collated and the amount of money our clients pay for allowances in order to ensure compliance. Calculating the allowances, compiling annual reports and completing data audits resulted in me taking a lot on board in a short space of time – which was a steep learning curve. I was shocked to discover that following the 2018-19 reporting year the government are scrapping the CRC. Whilst it may be considered overly burdensome with regards to the time taken to collate the data and general administration – it at least keeps energy on the business agenda. Whilst adding extra monies onto electricity and gas bills (after 2019) is going to result in a similar amount of monies going into the government purses it doesn’t exactly have the same impact on business as ordering £200,000 worth of carbon allowances!

I was shocked to discover that following the 2018-19 reporting year the government are scrapping the CRC. Whilst it may be considered overly burdensome with regards to the time taken to collate the data and general administration – it at least keeps energy on the business agenda


SIERA – collate and analyse vast data sets quickly and easily

In addition to the GRESB and CRC deadlines, quarterly performance reporting has become a huge part of my daily life at EVORA. With the assistance of SIERA I collate and analyse vast data sets of electricity, gas and water consumption across various assets for multiple clients. The most rewarding part is when the performance reports we produce directly help to focus the facilities and building managers on the areas which matter. For example, we recently issued a quarterly performance report to a building manager which highlighted poor gas performance. Within an hour, emails had been sent to tenants asking about their heating requirements and the M&E engineer was investigating potential issues with the boilers. Without our reports – none of that would have happened, they might have just noticed that their bill was a bit higher for the quarter. I find this part of my job extremely fulfilling as these reports directly help our clients to discover their inefficiencies, improve the performance of their assets and ultimately save money.

The most rewarding part of this is when the performance reports we produce directly helps to focus the facilities and building managers on the areas which matter.Click To Tweet

When I mentioned at the start of this blog that I joined EVORA at a particularly busy time of the year I was wrong. I don’t think there ever is a quiet time of the year at EVORA! I have joined EVORA at an exciting time; the recent rapid expansion of the company demonstrates just how in demand our services are. I can’t wait to get stuck into the next task sent my way (potentially Environmental Management System work or shadowing an energy audit). Here’s to the next six weeks!


You can keep up to date with vacancies at EVORA on our social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Webinar: How To Save Up To 70% Of Your Time On GRESB Using SIERA

UPDATE: This webinar is no-longer GRESB specific. We will still be showcasing the GRESB automation functionality, but due to high demand we will also be demonstrating SIERA’s other features, such as its M&T module, which has been described as ‘groundbreaking’, ‘visionary’ and ‘the best system of its kind’. Trust us – you’ll want to see this! Scroll down to book now.


Goodbye spreadsheets, hello automation!

We are delighted to be partnering with GRESB on this upcoming webinar.


GRESB

What?

How to save up to 70% of your time spent on GRESB using SIERA. Discover how SIERA automation saves you time and stress by delivering immense GRESB reporting efficiencies.

When?

Thursday July 6th 2017, 09:30 – 10:30 BST

Who for?

This webinar is for all GRESB participant organisations, or those who are thinking of responding for the first time in 2018.


Don’t let GRESB reporting and multiple spreadsheets cause you undue stress next year. There’s a better way!

This live demonstration will show you:

  • How simple yet powerful SIERA is, and why it ‘wows’ everyone who sees it
  • How SIERA has revolutionised the collation of data in a format that enables Performance Indicator reporting thanks to its highly efficient drag-and-drop functionality
  • How the responses for various questions, including R5.1 (portfolio characteristics) and Q31 (EPC coverage), have been automated, thereby delivering even greater efficiencies
  • How easy it is to get started and how our expert consultants and SIERA will do the hard work for you

Following the demo, there will be a Q&A session with a representative of GRESB.


If any of this sounds appealing, what have you got to lose by attending this short free webinar?

 

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I'm joining GRESB and EVORA on this upcoming webinar to learn about GRESB reporting automation using SIERA!Click To Tweet

 


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

The secret to future-proofing your portfolio. How data can make your buildings more productive, profitable and resilient to change.

Notes from the 2017 GRESB-Siemens Spring Conference.


Some colleagues and I attended a fascinating event a few days ago organised by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) and Siemens which focused on climate change, the contributions real estate makes to emissions, and our ability to make significant changes by shifting the paradigm.

One of the things that struck me was the bi-polar tone of the discussions at the event. Speakers and attendees would swing from dark, pessimistic views of the status quo to wildly enthusiastic proclamations about some of the amazing latest trends and technologies that are coming out. And you know what? They’re right. The current status quo is unacceptable, but sustainability and environmental responsibility is slowly becoming a more mainstream part of the decision-making process. But in an industry that can be resistant to change we must justify the push for sustainability within real estate with cold hard data. Without this we have no chance of bringing about the change we all know is necessary.

If the industry is not pushing to engage all stakeholders, then we will never make the changes we want to see. Sustainability is often spoken about by sustainability professionals in a ‘Sustainability Silo’ and we spend our time shouting at ourselves in our own echo chambers. As much as the rest of the market needs to recognise the importance of sustainability in terms of reducing risk and making assets more productive, as sustainability practitioners we need to get out there and prove our points with data.

Reliable data is clearly still an issue as 65% of the GRESB-Siemens Spring Conference attendees highlighted that they wanted more data to drive the sustainability agenda.

65% of the GRESB-Siemens Spring Conference attendees highlighted that they wanted more data to drive the sustainability agenda.Click To Tweet

Getting data these days is not a problem. Every year we produce and collect more data than has existed in the entire history of humankind before. But with so much data, how do you make sense of it all? ‘Dark Data’ is one of the challenges that we’re facing. We have become so inundated with information that we’re unable to make informed decisions. Data is knowledge, and knowledge is power, but only if you understand it.  This is why sustainability data management systems are so valuable to the real estate sector.

To make buildings more efficient and productive, as a first step, you don’t need to invest tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds in new LED lighting, fancy new lifts or filtration systems (although they do help of course). No, firstly you need to use the data you’re already creating and use it to get the basics right. At EVORA, we have developed our own sustainability data management software called SIERA, which simplifies the process and helps make sense of data in the operational sphere to support strategic decision making.

Through our suite of SIERA managed solutions, we have been able to help identify efficiencies of 10-15% per annum for our clients, without any capex costs. Not only is this a long-term benefit for the asset, it is also a competitive selling point in the short term.

Within the CRE sector, there is disagreement about whether ‘green premiums’ actually exist. Will a tenant pay more for a more sustainable building? Maybe, maybe not. But I am confident that tenants will be interested in a ‘green discount’. If an asset manager can make their building more efficient and thereby reduce the service charge and operating costs for their tenants, this will make the building more attractive. At EVORA, we have been able to achieve £0.54 per square foot reductions in service charge through no-cost actions using data as the primary enabler. Let’s say a tenant based in Office A has 10,000 square feet of space, that is a saving of £5,400 p/a. The asset manager would likely not have been able to achieve these savings without the data to identify the points of improvement, which demonstrates why it is so important to have an automated software like SIERA within a property to make it more competitive.

Fact: you can achieve reductions of £0.54 per square foot in service charge through no-cost actions using data as the primary enablerClick To Tweet
120OldBroadStreetFINAL

SIERA helps you identify areas to improve energy efficiency at both asset and fund/portfolio level.


One could argue that the cost of energy today is so low that this isn’t a priority, but the point of sustainability is not about the short term. Harnessing the power of the data that is created in a property and being able to easily translate and utilise that data to make high ROI improvements is about future-proofing investments.

Fund managers have a fiduciary duty to manage assets in the most responsible way possible and, by ignoring the raw data that their properties are already producing, they’re missing a huge opportunity.

It was interesting to hear the honest answer from a fund manager at the GRESB-Siemens conference, who made it quite plain that he doesn’t prioritise sustainability when evaluating new acquisitions, but he recognises the increasing importance of sustainability in transactions. Although fund managers are perhaps not seeing the short-term value in integrating sustainability within organisations, it is becoming increasingly clear that it now forms an essential part of mitigating risk for the medium to long term.


EPC Screenshot

SIERA’s EPC profiler allows you to easily analyse your medium to long-term risks and identify short term areas of improvement.


By implementing sustainability data management systems, asset or fund managers can utilise the existing data in their properties to make them more attractive for tenants in the short term and to make them more resilient to environmental and economic shocks in the long term.  However, they can only do this if the dark data they produce is brought into the light by systems like SIERA.

How asset and fund managers are bringing their dark data into the light with sustainability software like SIERAClick To Tweet

Fund managers are now able to use this new data by comparing their performance against the rest of the market through GRESB benchmarking. This information allows them to understand their own performance and identify points of improvement, but also benchmark themselves against their competitors.

This is becoming increasingly important as investors and occupiers put a stronger emphasis on the sustainability and environmental performance of buildings.


GRESB Reporting Screenshot

SIERA automatically uploads and sense checks data for your GRESB submissions, reducing the risk of human error and saving up to 70% of your time versus manual uploading.


As human beings, we have a responsibility to take care of the world we live in and it is changing at a faster pace than ever before. With the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 I believe the world recognised its ‘tobacco moment’ and the impact that real estate has on the emissions we produce. Unfortunately, some of the market is still stuck in its ‘smoker’s dilemma’ where they don’t see any noticeable change by not optimising their existing real estate infrastructure, but rest assured those in the market who have recognised and acted on the risk of unsustainable properties will be more competitive and resilient to shocks to the market in the near or long-term future.

The only constant is change and we live in a world of change on steroids. Those organisations who wait on government legislation or markets to force their hands will be left behind.

The future belongs to the brave, and data is knowledge.


To discover how SIERA can help improve the value of your portfolio, please contact us today.


Questions about GRESB? Need submission support? We are a GRESB Premier Partner. Please contact us today for any enquiries.


GRESB

The Role of Smart Metering in Slaying the Blackout Monster

Though the forecast for this week is mild, the current winter has seen the cold bite, and cold weather usually means more demand on power.

You may recall doom mongering headlines over the past few years predicting power blackouts as the National Grid would struggle to meet demand over the winter months. However, so far no such episodes have occurred. Steve Holliday, the former head of the National Grid, appeared on BBC News on Monday morning to defend the National Grid and endorse the Government’s latest capacity auctions for power generation to ensure supply.

Mr Holliday also pointed to several factors enabling the Grid to provide an efficient capacity, including Smart metering. This follows his comments in the Telegraph last year that metering for businesses will contribute four-fifths of the potential energy savings from smart control technology.

EVORA recognises the important role smart metering already plays in reducing energy consumption. As well as providing strategic advice in the provision of smart metering technology in buildings, EVORA has developed a Monitoring and Targeting (M&T) feature in SIERA, its sustainability management software, to help businesses visualise, be notified by, and act upon smart meter data.  This software takes in raw half-hourly data from source meters and presents practical graphical analysis to the end user supported by alerts and custom overlays, giving clear insight to reduce energy wastage.

The process of acquiring data and creating insightful and meaningful reporting is at the centre of our strategy for SIERA. The impact of Big Data and how EVORA is using it to deliver performance and value to businesses is set out in my last blog post.

The use of technology in energy consumption has never been greater as all parts of the energy supply chain, from power generators and the National Grid to consumers rely more and more on software and the Internet of Things to create an accurate picture of consumption that they can act upon. We see SIERA as part of this effort and look to work with our clients to constantly improve its capabilities in this field.

We are also pleased to hear that the lights aren’t going to go out… well, so we’ve been told.


To learn more about SIERA, or to request a demo, please contact us today.

SIERA Sustainability Software: By Numbers [An Infographic]

Leading Sustainability Software for the Real Estate World

SIERA, our proprietary sustainability management software, has, until recently, been an inadvertently well-kept secret. As a result, “This is great, why haven’t I seen it before?” is one of the most common questions we are asked when demoing the software to our commercial real estate prospects.

Well, no longer will SIERA remain a secret!

We are actively demoing the software to multiple businesses with assets across the globe. What’s more, our clients who are already using it are reaping the rewards of having all their environmental data in one secure database, with powerful validation tools ensuring the accuracy and completeness of their data. SIERA has proved particularly popular with regards to its GRESB reporting automation capabilities. Read more about that here.

We have put together the infographic below to provide a visual overview of some of SIERA’s key figures. The numbers are, of course, changing each month as we add more clients’ assets to the system, but at least this provides a bit of a starting point. We’re very proud of SIERA and what it has achieved for our clients so far.

Would you like a demo of SIERA at your convenience?
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Click the image to view it in full size

(You will also be able to save it as a PDF should you wish to.)

siera-by-numbers-infographic-leading-sustainability-software-for-the-real-estate-world


Further SIERA reading:


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2016 GRESB Results Day!

GRESB results are out today.

Visit our GRESB support service page.

In 2016, there were 759 entries covering 63 countries. The gross asset value of companies and funds reporting was $2.8 trillion.

Here at EVORA, we’re working hard to review our client results and analyse progress against previous submissions. Findings are positive, reflecting work done by our clients to improve ESG policies and practices and to strengthen data collection through use of our SIERA software platform.

Our findings appear to reflect UK wide results. The average GRESB Score of UK companies and funds improved from 58 in 2015 to 63 in 2016. Furthermore, GRESB states that companies and funds in the UK continue to outperform those in Europe (although Australia and New Zealand lead with an overall score of 74).

An initial review of overall performance data is also interesting. A like-for-like reduction in energy consumption of 0.67% was reported in the UK (0.96% in Europe). Carbon emissions fell by 3.6% (0.6% in Europe) and water consumption also fell by 1.33% (0.7% Europe).

We will provide more detail and measured analysis of GRESB results in due course. Stay tuned, and don’t forget to subscribe to our updates by using the form in the sidebar.


EVORA is a GRESB Premier Partner.

This year, our software SIERA delivered the automation of data transfer into GRESB for 41 submissions and more than €20bn of assets, with clients including Deutsche Asset Management, Schroder Real Estate, Rockspring, and AEW.

To talk to us about GRESB or to request a demo of SIERA, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


 

Further reading on GRESB and SIERA:

 


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

The Power of Data Visualisation in Profiling MEES Risks and Opportunities

My colleague Ed Gabbitas recently wrote a blog post titled ‘Why MEES is Changing Behaviour Two Years Ahead of the Compliance Date’. In that post, Ed highlighted some of the challenges around the accuracy and variable quality of some EPCs as well as some broader implications for the sector. In light of the potential adverse impact that MEES could have on some key value drivers, it is imperative that property owners have a clear fund or portfolio view of their EPC risks.

The obvious starting point is to understand where the gaps are. Fortunately, many organisations have started this process already by looking at the extent of EPCs most at risk across their funds / portfolios. A prerequisite to carrying out this analysis is having a single, central database that stores all of the key information in a consistent format.

Those companies that have participated in GRESB will know well that to be able to easily answer the questions relating to extent of portfolio coverage relies on all the key parameters such as EPC scores and an accurate record of associated floor area covered being stored in a consistent format to easily get an aggregated view. If this is stored in a multitude of tenancy schedule spreadsheets it can be an extremely time-consuming process in ensuring that the fund picture is accurate. For voluntary reporting such as GRESB, the effect of getting it wrong might be a dent in scores. However, in the context of MEES, the risks are potentially much more significant – i.e. the inability to let space and therefore negatively impact on income streams.

This is something that we have been able to help a number of clients with through the use of SIERA – our proprietary sustainability management software – to reduce manual intervention and improve the efficiency of storing EPC information in a systematic manner so that information is not overlooked.

Assuming that you have all your EPC information in one place the next step is to prioritise actions for managing the potential risks. This may include identifying which EPCs should be re-modelled for example or identifying particular units or properties for improvement to ensure they are MEES compliant. Regardless of what specific actions are taken, an efficient means of profiling EPCs will help make the task easier.

In the case of one of our clients we profiled the assets of a fund to identify the lettable space most at risk of MEES; the units in the example below represented around 69% of rental income and 51% of total lettable area at a particular asset, which ‘could’ have been un-lettable from April 2018 unless action was taken. We carried out an extensive EPC re-modelling exercise to produce new EPCs.

The Power of Data Visualisation in Profiling MEES Risks and Opportunities - Image 1

The before and after scenarios are markedly different, showing a really good result. This example is just one improvement case study amongst a fund of where we had profiled many EPCs using the powerful visualisation tools in SIERA. For example with SIERA’s EPC profiling module, you can edit key visualisations of EPCs against ERV and lease expiry to dial in on particular sets of assets/units and create reports. Both our consultants and clients have benefitted massively from the efficiency of being able to very easily profile against key parameters to customise analyses to inform decision making.

Simplified sample EPC Profile Analysis from SIERA:

The Power of Data Visualisation in Profiling MEES Risks and Opportunities - Image 2

EPC rating by lease expiry.

 

The Power of Data Visualisation in Profiling MEES Risks and Opportunities - Image 3

Rental income by EPC rating.

To speak to our experts about MEES, SIERA, or any other topics, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Further reading:


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SIERA: A Case Study in Sustainable Project Development

Software development Rule No. 1:

“As long as you have users, your product will never be finished!”

When we began the SIERA project we knew that our journey would be one of continual improvement and continual change; our product would have to evolve to meet the demands of our clients, global reporting standards, a constantly changing regulatory environment and the challenges of working in different jurisdictions.

Our project methodologies and technology frameworks would, therefore, have to provide the flexibility needed to meet this constantly changing agenda. Part of my Technology Director role is to ensure that our development project is sustainable in terms of the tools we employ, the security of our environments, and the availability of resources to manage and develop our software.

Here’s how we achieve that:

Agile Project Methodology

The basis of Agile is to be close to the user and their requirements, and allows us to build and deploy a new release approximately every two weeks. This approach minimises the impacts associated with large amounts of change. It means that we are continually, incrementally, improving the software.

The key to Agile is communication. As a dispersed dev team in Glasgow, London, Swindon and Milton Keynes, we have a daily 15 minute scrum using Join.Me’s screen sharing, video and audio facilities.

Throughout the day (and night!) we are in touch through Slack, our collaboration platform. Project plans are kept in Trello and GanttPro and we share specifications across the team using Google Docs. Freshdesk is our ticket tracking software that can be used by clients and consultants to report faults. Our code is controlled and securely stored with Bitbucket, which allows multiple developers to work independently without getting in each other’s way.

All these tools are in the cloud and can be used on our mobile devices or PCs. It creates an environment where we are always in touch, able to seek out project documentation, and can keep tabs on progress and issues, wherever we are.

Virtual Infrastructure

We deliver SIERA through a ‘software as a service’(SaaS) model. Fundamentally, this means we deliver from a highly secure data centre accessible through the internet. Our servers are virtual machines e.g. not physical servers but a piece of server software running in a massively powerful physical server. We can flex the size of this server within minutes to meet demand by increasing the number of processors or amount of storage. The majority of our clients ‘share’ the same virtual server and database which brings massive economies of scale. It also allows them to instantly benchmark their portfolios – anonymously – against the hundreds of other asset details that we store. Some clients prefer their own server and we can facilitate this easily. In fact, we can ‘spin up’ a new server in under 60 minutes with all the software pre-installed and ready to go.

We take a belt and braces approach to backups; each server is ‘imaged’ once a day and, just in case our data centre went up in smoke (highly unlikely for an ISO27001 certified facility), all our data is backed up to a 3rd party every night.

Multi-tiered Technology

We have created a multi-tiered technical architecture to deliver SIERA. Each layer uses industry standard components. There are 3 elements to this:

  1. Database (the bit that stores the data) – Microsoft SQL Server – Enterprise ready, used globally by thousands of organisations.
  2. API (the bit that links the data to the user interface) – Microsoft .NET providing a RESTful interface. This is a standard for APIs. It makes SIERA an ‘open’ platform that can allow other software to talk to it in a widely understood way, given, of course, that the correct OAuth2 credentials have been provided. All of this takes place through a https:// web address that encrypts all the traffic between the client’s browser and our datacentre.
  3. User Interface (the bit that the user works with) – we use Sencha, a javascript framework that is used by corporates and financial institutions across the world. It provides a rich toolset that accelerates the development process. It also allows us to deploy to PC, phones and tablets with minimal changes and with a common code base.

Subject Matter Expertise

Finally, the key to the success of our software is that its design is underpinned by the deep and detailed knowledge of our sustainability consultants. The origins of SIERA are ‘SDS’ (Sustainable Data Systems), a system that was developed to aid EVORA’s consultants with day-to-day data management processes and reports. SIERA has evolved from SDS and is now almost unrecognisable, but the core processes and reports still prevail, a testament to the solidity of the original design.

Read More:

SIERA – 5 Key Features & Benefits [Infographic]

SIERA and GRESB Data Automation: Ensuring Seamless Does Not Result in Senseless

SIERA Automates GRESB Reporting for Second Year Running

To learn more about SIERA or to see a demo of the software, please do not hesitate to contact our experts today.


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