Big Data – Adding Value to our Clients’ Assets

Big Data in Our Daily Lives

A few weeks ago, whilst on the train, I was browsing my emails when a new, unfamiliar email, landed in my inbox talking about Big Data. Opening it, I was told I had earned 30 leaves in the past month. Apparently, I was doing quite well. People in my area had earned, on average, 26 leaves. The email was from Nest, and contained my first report on energy usage.

In its own subtle way, the email showed how this is not just a buzzword, but very much a reality for people in their day-to-day lives. The Internet of Things is enabling huge amounts of data to be recorded and we are being meticulously analysed, whether we like it or not.

Big Data for Sustainability

A couple of years ago, John Hsu wrote about the potential of Big Data use for sustainability. EVORA was already considering using Big Data for its clients at the time. We understood the impact that it would create, and have since developed systems for SIERA, our proprietary sustainability software, that allow manual as well as automatic data import. This allows us to accrue vast amounts of data for our clients. The amount of data we store is demonstrated in our recent infographic: SIERA By Numbers.

Once the data is in place, the possibilities for reporting are almost endless. That is why we are currently developing features that will allow clients to shape and visualise their data into meaningful reports.

As the name suggests, it brings a sense that data can be overwhelming to human perception. The term ‘Data Lake’ has been coined to describe an entity that is difficult to render anything meaningful from. That’s why SIERA provides rich, intuitive reporting features such as its GRESB capabilities. For example, in less than a minute, SIERA can auto-generate an asset data spreadsheet that’s fully aligned to GRESB’s template, ready to be uploaded directly into the GRESB portal; a process that saves our clients a lot of stress, time and money.

[clickToTweet tweet=”With its rich reporting features, SIERA #sustainability software saves you stress, time & money.” quote=”With its rich reporting features, SIERA sustainability software saves you stress, time & money.”]

Big Data and Predictive Analysis

But perhaps the biggest selling point is its use in predictive analysis – using data to model what will occur. EVORA recognises this powerful use of data and we are working towards features that will enable clients to predict the future.

The obvious benefit is to help reduce cost. One such example is our metering strategy. Earlier I mentioned Nest. Through collation of metering data, we can suggest monitoring and targeting strategies to enable real savings; not just the awarding of leaves!

[clickToTweet tweet=”EVORA enables real savings for its clients through the collation of metering data + M&T strategies.” quote=”EVORA can enable real savings for its clients through the collation of metering data and monitoring and targeting strategies.”]

However, there are other tangible benefits for Predictive Analytics. It could also suggest disruptive methods that may realise an advantage by changing policy or practice.

How Big Data Will Continue to Shape SIERA

As this concept matures further, there will no doubt be more possibilities not yet realised. We will continue to build  more functionality into SIERA to enable our clients to get the insights and information they need to improve their sustainability efforts. This helps each client with their long-term aim of adding value to their assets and retaining tenants.

As for my Nest leaf count, I’ll keep you posted…

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Why Firms Choose EVORA For Expert GRESB Support

The Rising Interest in GRESB

GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) is proving to be the survey of choice to benchmark real estate portfolio performance, but it is also one of the most challenging to complete.

Interest in GRESB has continued to increase since it was founded in 2009, as demonstrated by the Google Trends report below. As you can see, global interest peaked in September this year when the 2016 results were released.

In addition to interest increasing, average GRESB scores are improving. As my colleague Paul Sutcliffe said in his 2016 GRESB Results blog:

“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).”

3 Reasons Firms Choose EVORA For Expert GRESB Support

1. GRESB Premier Partner

As a specialist commercial real estate sustainability consultancy that is driving broad uptake of sustainability best practices in alternative asset classes, it made perfect sense for us to become a GRESB Premier Partner.

2. Sustainability Consultants With Deep Expertise in Commercial Real Estate

Our team of sustainability consultants have a phenomenal wealth of experience of sustainability for commercial real estate firms.

Ed Gabbitas, for example, is a leader in sustainability strategy and policy development in the commercial real estate sector. He is a Chartered Environmentalist with a passion for promoting and delivering best practice solutions to clients. He has a depth of understanding concerning GRESB and environmental legislation across the EU. His clients include Deutsche Asset Management, Hines and AEW Europe.

Contact Ed today.

3. SIERA – Sustainability Management Software for Commercial Real Estate Firms

And last but not least, there’s SIERA; our proprietary sustainability management software.

In 2016, 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.

The chart below shows that the most widely used data entry approach is where participants aggregate their consumption data and then manually enter it per sector, line-by-line, in the standard GRESB Portal. This is time consuming, requires a lot of manual calculations and is subject to human error.

The beauty of SIERA is that it can auto-generate an asset data spreadsheet that’s fully aligned to GRESB’s template, which can be swiftly uploaded directly into the GRESB portal. This process takes less than a minute and populates the Performance Indicator questions for all sectors reported by a portfolio.

Our MD, Chris Bennett, has already written a great blog post on SIERA’s automation capabilities and the benefits of using it for GRESB submissions. Here’s that post in full:

GRESB Data Automation: Ensuring Seamless Does Not Result In Senseless

For expert GRESB support and to improve your GRESB scores in 2017, please get in touch with our experts today.

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.

IEA Energy Efficiency Market Report 2016: Key Takeaways for the Commercial Real Estate Sector

About 10 days ago, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released the long awaited Energy Efficiency Market Report 2016, confirming the agency’s growing support for energy efficiency policies and initiatives worldwide. One of the key themes of the report was the emphasis on the critical contribution that energy efficiency can make to broader energy policy goals.

With investment in energy efficiency in 2015 reaching $221 billion and energy intensity improving by 1.8% in the same year, the IEA confirmed that energy efficiency initiatives have reached a sufficient scale to influence global energy markets. The energy intensity improvement seen in 2015 amounts to triple the average rate seen over the past decade, which is a considerable advance, especially in the context of relatively low energy prices. The progress so far should, however, be seen in the context long term targets – as the IEA emphasizes, substantial further improvements will be required to ensure a smooth and timely transition to a sustainable energy system. Particular emphasis is given to the implementation of policy in areas which are either not regulated or subject to inadequate policies.

Given that an estimated 70% of global energy consumption is not subject to any efficiency requirements at present, the scope for improvement is substantial.

The regulation of previously unregulated areas of energy consumption is, however, not the only way to achieve substantial improvements. While the report analyses energy efficiency in the context of a wide range of sectors (e.g. energy intensive industries, light-duty vehicles, rail, shipping and aviation, envelope, lighting, appliances) the real estate sector clearly stands out. In 2015, the real estate sector (commercial, industrial and residential buildings) accounted for 53% of global incremental investments into energy efficiency; more than the next two largest sectors (transport and industry), combined.

Energy efficiency as the fuel of economic development

The report takes an interesting approach to energy efficiency, prompting readers to think about it as the “first fuel” – an energy resource which is available to all energy system stakeholders in abundance and whose integration into energy development strategies can yield varied but important savings and benefits. The IEA highlights energy efficiency as a means to reduce emissions, help tackle air pollution concerns and climate change, but also praises it for its capability to lower energy expenditure. The report also places a lot of focus on the ways in which energy efficiency can help satisfy growing energy demand, improve energy access and energy security and ultimately contribute to economic resilience and the betterment of living standards. The priorities and goals of stakeholders committing to energy efficiency schemes will inevitably vary based on their specific circumstances.

The main achievement of the Energy Efficiency Market Report 2016 is that it manages to bridge the gap between sectors and stakeholders by portraying energy efficiency as a tool which can not only help deliver existing energy and climate goals but also bring about a broader range of the positive impacts such as those listed above.

Key takeaways for the commercial real estate sector

While being subject to a wide range of energy efficiency policies (including Energy Performance Certificates, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme in the UK), the commercial real estate sector retains significant potential for further improvement.

On the one hand, energy expenditure in commercial real estate office buildings, for example, usually accounts for a large share of building service charge costs, providing a strong bottom-up incentive to improve energy efficiency. On the other hand, commercial real estate buildings make up a high share of global energy consumption and are also seen as having a wide range of energy savings opportunities, which raises their importance in the eyes of policy-makers. The combination of these top-down and bottom-up factors is a growing interest in the pursuit of energy efficiency in the sector.

What renders the commercial real estate sector truly unique is the range of market-driven certification, assessment and benchmarking initiatives which set an ever increasing industry standard for resource management and efficiency.

Initiatives such as BREEAM, LEED, HQE, ENERGY STAR and GRESB all reinforce incentives for stakeholders to measure and improve energy performance. Moreover, while energy management only constitutes one aspect evaluated in many of these initiatives, the identification and redressing of inefficiencies can go hand in hand with a stakeholder’s ability to attain higher scores.

So how can commercial real estate assets progress towards their potential for energy efficiency?

Our recommendation is to start with a robust measurement and analysis strategy which can, for instance, be undertaken as part of an asset and/or portfolio energy assessment aligned to standards such as ISO 50001. Such an approach is established on the basis of improving accuracy and completeness of energy consumption data which is fundamental in identifying potential areas to enhance energy management and improve efficiency. Analysis can then form the basis of meaningful performance improvement targets and ongoing monitoring and reporting to ensure continued progress. Such ongoing, documented processes will support in voluntary reporting to indices and certification, which can in turn provide an incentive for further improvements.

The growing interest and participation we have witnessed in voluntary certification, assessment and benchmarking initiatives, such as GRESB, are certainly a very good indicator of the commercial real estate sector’s engagement in energy management.

To gain more insight into the ways in which commercial real estate assets can benefit from becoming more energy efficient, refer to one of the following case studies:

For any other questions and to find out how we can help your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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The Implications of Brexit on Skills and Delivery in a Service-Based Economy

Five-and-a-half years ago I, together with two partners, set up EVORA, a specialist consultancy focused on the delivery of sustainability advice to the real estate industry. Our plan was simple: we believed that the level of sustainability support to real estate businesses was limited. We wanted to create a consultancy that delivered value-adding sustainability advice to the industry as a professional service – something that, in our opinion, was markedly needed.

We have been successful and grown organically; by the end of the year we will have 20 staff. Our approach to recruitment has been simple – recruit the best staff and invest in their development to the benefit of all; individuals, the company and clients. To this end, we introduced a tough recruitment process designed to select the best. All who join have to complete multi-stage phone and face-to-face interviews followed by a timed interview test.

This policy has been successful. We have a strong and competent team. The success of our approach has also been demonstrated by business results. It has also resulted in approximately 25% of our workforce being made up of non-UK, European citizens.

All have been educated at top UK universities (a process that has, in itself, contributed to the UK economy). Furthermore, they continue to contribute to the economy, directly through tax contribution and also significantly, through the provision of consultancy advice that helps to enhance performance and improve competitiveness of our clients’ businesses. We have also expanded service delivery into Europe. We now offer services to UK and European real estate firms investing across the continent.

We would not be where we are today without our team. I also believe that although numbers and percentages are different, our general position and approach will be broadly representative of many other UK based professional service organisations (large and small). So recent political discussions about the mandatory listing of non-UK staff along with possible restrictions and/or limitations on our ability to retain existing staff and freely recruit the best staff available are deeply concerning.

I think it is crucial that UK Government recognises this. I know that this matter has already been raised by many businesses, large and small, however, at EVORA we felt it important to set out our views publicly.

The UK faces turbulent times ahead, and regardless of individual views on the results of the Brexit vote, any decision that impacts British business’s ability to recruit and retain the best staff will have a huge detrimental impact on business and ultimately economic performance.

We’re hiring!

As a growing business, we’re always on the lookout for excellent talent. We always publish vacancies on LinkedIn, so be sure to follow our page.

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World Envoys Reach Agreement To Phase Out HFCs

Almost 200 nations reached an agreement in Kigali, Rwanda, last weekend to amend the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and introduce a global phase-out of hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.

HFCs were introduced to limit damage to the ozone layer and replace refrigerants that have now been phased out – including R22. However, they have much greater levels of global warming potential (GWP).

Developed countries are required to cap and phase down HFCs starting in 2019. This international agreement is legally binding and strengthens existing commitments. The UK, for example, had already committed to phase down HFC use by 79% by 2030, starting in 2015. Timetables for developing countries are different.

What does this mean in the UK?

HFC refrigerant gases are used in air conditioning systems. Widely used HFC refrigerants for commercial air conditioning systems include R-410A, R-407C and R-134a. Phase down will largely impact on supply of new equipment, but it is expected that the phase out will be extended to include the supply of new refrigerant for servicing existing equipment.

Timescales are long term, however, EVORA recommends that real estate firms develop a plan to compile a record of landlord-controlled HFC refrigerants used across their portfolios. Firms are advised to also check with their maintenance providers that they are fully compliant with the current F Gas regulations, which require regular refrigerant leak testing and up-to-date records to be kept.

Questions? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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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.)

Further SIERA reading:

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EVORA is Officially an Award-Winning Sustainability Consultancy!

Being filmed is definitely not in my job description, but that’s what I found myself doing on a sunny August day in Liverpool’s Chavasse Park. I was answering questions about the work EVORA has done with Liverpool ONE over the last three years.

I had been invited to the RARAs – the Reward and Recognition Awards which Liverpool ONE holds annually, not only to recognise the accomplishments of its own staff, but also its tenants, suppliers, and contractors. I had no idea what I was filming for; it was vaguely mentioned that EVORA had been nominated for an award – but I didn’t know which award and little did I suspect that we were in with a chance of winning.

A Beautiful Location and a Great Theme!

The awards were held at the beautiful Eaton Hall in Cheshire. The invite to the RARAs had warned us to be on alert for deer, but I had no idea there would be hundreds roaming around the estate with a penchant for leaping into the road… Not a great way to calm the nerves! (A glass of champagne, however, did do the trick!) The theme for the evening was Copacabana, which was kicked off with Brazilian dancers and live samba drummers – definitely not my normal Thursday night!

Our Three-Year Engagement with Liverpool ONE

Various awards were given out on the night, recognising the stars of Liverpool ONE and its tenants. Then, before dessert, came our moment. We had been nominated by the Operations Director, Chris Grundy, and Health Safety and Compliance Manager, Karen Palmer, for the ONE Award for Collaboration.

Our three years of work, which began with a one-off sustainability assessment that identified – and achieved – £7,000 of operational annual electricity savings for no cost outlay, had developed into an ongoing partnership between ourselves and Liverpool ONE, going from strength-to-strength. This culminated in the appointment of a new external ISO14001 auditing body (to better meet the needs of Liverpool ONE than the previous incumbent) following a re-tendering process managed by EVORA and eventual re-certification of the Environmental Management System to ISO14001 after a thorough three-day external audit.

We won!

The second the video started playing, I knew we had won, because the interview I’d recorded a month earlier was playing on the huge TV screens, all intercut with interviews by Karen and Chris! The positive comments from Karen and Chris were amazing to hear; often we deliver our services and know we have done a good job, but it can be rare to receive such direct and public positive feedback. Chris Grundy presented the award.

Our collaboration with Liverpool ONE is continuing to grow. We are currently working on their five-year energy strategy, which will provide them with a long-term sustainability vision. Additionally, transitional works are due to commence on the Liverpool ONE EMS to ensure alignment with ISO14001:2015.

All in all, it’s a very exciting time to be working with Liverpool ONE and we are proud to call them a client!

“Liverpool ONE has a number of KPIs listed within its current Business Plan.

One of our strategic goals is to maintain ISO14001 certification for our Environmental Management System. We have once again managed to achieve this objective through our long-term collaboration with EVORA.

EVORA has provided expert knowledge, advice and support on a variety of topics including ISO14001, improvement initiatives, monitoring performance and legal compliance on an on-going basis in order to achieve our aims.

We have built up a strong working relationship with EVORA, which has delivered a number of tangible benefits and we look forward to continuing the partnership into the future.”

Karen Palmer, Health Safety and Compliance Manager, Liverpool ONE

To discover how we can help support your organisation with ISO14001 accreditation, or for any other queries, please get in touch.

Further reading:

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A Brief Note from EXPO REAL 2016 in Munich

Three days of back-to-back meetings with property funds and investors? Sounds good to us!

I’ve managed to find five minutes between meetings to write a brief note from Munich. Here are my key points…

EXPO REAL is an amazing industry event with incredible representation from an enormous cross-section of the real estate investment community.

It’s been three days of great networking and back-to-back meetings, with meaningful and engaging discussions. Sustainability is being talked about seriously.

From the conversations we’ve had, GRESB has clearly been very impactful, with good data and sustainability systems like our SIERA being important in understanding performance to ensure a return on investment is achieved.

What’s trending from a sustainability angle?

  • Asset certification is seen as more and more important, especially in Germany
  • GRESB and how many green stars funds have achieved
  • Sustainability is now high up on the agenda of everyone we’ve spoken with

We’re looking forward to continuing the sustainability / GRESB / responsible property investment / energy management conversations with as many people as possible at next month’s 40 Percent Symposium in Berlin.

Since 2011, the 40 Percent Symposium has established itself as the leading resource for those working in sustainability within the commercial real estate sector.

Its mission is to bring you the latest thinking on sustainability in commercial real estate investment, occupation and ownership.

Property investors, occupiers and owners will meet in Berlin on 3rd November for the 7th Annual 40 Percent Symposium.

Book your place today!

Further reading:

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Leading the Sustainable Revolution with a Business-Driven Evolution

Sustainable Commercial Solutions rebrands as EVORA

The last five years have been a whirlwind.

Driven by a desire to show that sustainability is a professional service in its own right, and convinced by the value it can deliver to the commercial real estate sector, Paul Sutcliffe, Ed Gabbitas and I launched Sustainable Commercial Solutions back in early 2011.

We haven’t looked back – not that we’ve had any time to!

Since those early days, we:

  • have expanded to a team of 15 (and will soon be 18)
  • are delivering a full scope of sustainability services to major investors across Europe
  • have developed a unique sustainability software system, SIERA, specifically for the property sector, which is taking the market by storm
  • are redefining M&E consultancy with a unique energy-focused offering delivering resource efficiency to major funds
  • have become a GRESB Premier Partner and supported our clients on 41 submissions this year alone, with SIERA delivering immense efficiency and automation

So we’ve been pretty busy!

Driven by Our Values

From our humble beginnings we have held firm to our core values of professionalism, honesty and integrity, with an absolute commitment to deliver the very highest quality of service to our clients in all that we do. I am sure many may say similar things, but we truly live and breathe this with a passion and the trusted long-term relationships we have built up with all our clients are testament to this.

Over the years, our focus has been to passionately develop our advisory services and technology platforms to deliver leading-edge solutions that focus as much on good business sense and a return on investment as delivering on the green agenda. This practical approach has been extremely well received by our clients.

Increasing Our Market Presence

More recently, we have recognised the importance of promoting all that we do. In May this year we brought in Russ Avery, a very talented marketing professional, as our Marketing Director. Since then, there is no doubt our profile has gone through an amazing trajectory but whilst still standing firm to our true values. Numerous thought leadership pieces and important forthcoming events, with collaboration from industry leaders, are enabling us to share our experience and knowledge to a far greater audience; this is really exciting, especially as we see how quickly sustainability is transforming this industry.

But let’s get back to the really exciting news… Sustainable Commercial Solutions is no longer – we are now EVORA.

Russ comments:

“Sustainable Commercial Solutions had always been focused on helping its clients to reap the business rewards of sustainability. But its branding was not reflective of that.

I identified an opportunity for us to own a brand that reflected not only the professional side of sustainability, but also our deep expertise in commercial real estate. To do that, we had to move away from the overused nature-based branding that is typical of the ‘green’ sector, and move more into the professional services realm.

The elegant EVORA logo evokes the visual metaphor of a floorplan and conveys our professional, strategic and planned approach to what can often feel like a minefield to our clients.”

EVORA, although not an acronym, emerged organically from our discussions on the transformation and impact sustainability is having on the property industry, and the associated evolution (EVO) of real estate assets (RA). It also recognises our own evolution and provides us with a strong professional brand, which far better represents our identity.

I am very proud of what we have achieved to date as a committed team of professionals, but this represents a step change for our company and positions us strongly for the future.

To learn more about us, please visit the following page:

Interactive Brochure

The Evolution of Sustainable Commercial Solutions into EVORA

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