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GRESB 2022 is almost here! Are you ready?

At EVORA we are already preparing our clients and ourselves for the next GRESB cycle. Because, like spring, it is just around the corner.

Every year, the GRESB portal opens its doors on April 1st and closes them on July 1st. During this time, the wires to Amsterdam run hot and there are many sleepless nights for some participants. “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done”, as Mark Twain said.

So, what are the challenges and key deliverables of a GRESB submission?

Data. Data. Data.

Data Coverage is a big deal at GRESB and nearly one-third of the points are linked to consumption data such as energy, carbon, water and waste data. Even if data collation sounds simple, it is not in real life. Data coverage on asset-level can be particularly challenging, especially in the absence of AMR (Automatic Meter Reading). However, data collection alone is not enough. It is crucial to understand the data and to identify inconsistencies. This is where our in-house developed software SIERA enters the scene; not only for GRESB submissions but generally to better understand how efficient buildings are within a portfolio.

SIERA was specifically developed for the real estate investment market. It is a platform that enables a highly effective collection of quantitative and qualitative GRESB data, including comprehensive automated verification and intelligent modelling to achieve accurate and transparent disclosure of asset-level performance data. The SIERA GRESB module enables direct submission to the GRESB portal.

GRESB started requiring asset-level performance data (in the sense of consumption data such as energy, water, greenhouse gases, and waste) last year. Previously, this was at the fund level, which of course means that the data reported to GRESB is now much more detailed. This has not changed anything for SIERA users. However, we at EVORA believe that this is not the end of the journey. Our gut feeling tells us that GRESB will increasingly cover the topic of resilience in the future. And here, too, the Net Zero Carbon Module of SIERA offers the opportunity to create simulations that are aligned with the science-based targets of the Paris Agreement, for example.

But GRESB is not only about performance data, and neither is SIERA. When it comes to providing data on efficiency measures taken in terms of water, energy and/or waste, SIERA offers another very helpful feature: the software collects data by using surveys specifically aligned to the GRESB question set. The surveys can be sent individually for each building to, for example, the responsible property manager who may answer the questions online. The responses are sent directly to SIERA so that the overall picture of the condition of an asset becomes more and more complete.

But coming back to the GRESB cycle.

The picture is as complete as possible, which means all available and relevant data is checked, prepared and verified and finally pushed through the GRESB portal. What happens next? The adrenalin level drops, and we wait until October. But do we really?

In fact, in October, the GRESB results are released, providing not only an overview of how the submitted fund is positioned from a GRESB perspective but – and this is where it gets exciting – also where the fund stands relative to its peers.

Additionally, strengths and weaknesses, as well as potentials, are made comprehensible not only through figures, but also through a series of descriptive graphics.

And what happens in the meantime? We at EVORA will provide our clients with an outlook of the predicted score (as far as it is possible) and an overview of the identified gaps and potentials so that the client has the chance to decide about possible improvement measures in terms of ESG at the half-year. It is important because the same applies to GRESB: standing still leads to falling behind.

However, an ESG strategy should not be a reaction to the GRESB results alone but should exist and be implemented across the board. The GRESB results will help to stay on track and SIERA can support your decision making.

So, the “plan – do – check – act” wheel for ESG measures ideally rolls on continuously and independently of GRESB deadlines. In this way, an ESG strategy can be implemented effectively so that it again has a positive impact on GRESB scoring.

As well as being a GRESB Global Partner, EVORA is also a GRESB leader. In the 2021 cycle, we were supporting over 150 submissions, which is equal to 20% of all Europe’s submissions.

We at EVORA are happy to support you in optimising the ESG & GRESB performance for your fund and your company, and in getting your ESG wheel rolling!

Interested in finding out more? Contact our experts today.

EVORA Global strengthens team with new hire

EVORA Global is excited to welcome Helen Cave-Penney to the newly created role of Head of Growth, Europe. Helen will be instrumental in driving the continued development and expansion of EVORA’s proprietary ESG software, SIERA across the UK and Europe.

Helen brings with her 18 years of experience, having spent the last 2.5 years as Head of UK Sales at Coyote Software, a commercial real estate software company. She has spent over 13 years in the real estate industry providing strategic business development and sales within companies such as BNP Paribas Real Estate and CBRE.

As EVORA continues to position itself as the leading ESG advisor and software provider to the real asset investment markets, driven by its purpose to accelerate the flow of capital to ESG investment, Helen will support its strategic growth plans with specific focus on the rapid global expansion of its ESG software platform, SIERA.

Chris Bennett, Co-Founder and Managing Director said:

“I am incredibly excited that Helen is joining our business in such a key role. Helen’s wealth of experience of commercial real estate and investment, combined with a depth of knowledge and enthusiasm for PropTech, perfectly positions her to support the market and our clients evolve their ESG investment strategies through technology.”

Helen added:

“I am excited to join such a forward-thinking company such as EVORA at such a pivotal time when ESG strategies are so important to the real assets market. EVORA’s already strong position as the leading ESG advisor and software provider offers huge scope and potential to grow globally and I look forward to becoming part of the journey with a great team.”

Software as the foundation for investment grade data (IGD)

ESG is here to stay. Momentum is gaining to improve data quality and consistency. Regulations such as Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) are clearly helping to drive this. The perceived distinction between financial and non-financial data is not helpful one when ESG data, which might conventionally be seen as non-financial, is used all the time to inform investment decisions.

Clearly those who are managing data for ESG strategy implementation and reporting rightly need to focus on aspects, which London Stock Exchange highlighted, such as:

  • Reporting boundaries: ensuring data aligns to the fiscal timeframes and financial structure
  • Comparability and consistency: employing best practice in terms of methodologies
  • Provision of data: qualitative and quantitative for vital context and narrative.
  • External assurance: adding credibility to ESG reporting by following the principles of an independent auditing of the process.
  • Accuracy: establishing robust systems to bolster the collection and quality of ESG data.

Historically there’s been underinvestment in the systems and processes in the real estate sector to address data accuracy and quality. This can be said in relation to the adoption of technology but also from a resources and experience perspective. The requirements and expectations of ESG reporting in real estate has evolved rapidly and perhaps faster than the pace many companies are going at to address these gaps. Key to success in this is engaging those involved in the foundations of ESG data and with the tools like SIERA and SIERA+.

Take for example Net Zero Carbon (NZC) as a relevant ESG theme. Many real estate companies have made public commitments to reaching NZC by 2050. NZC is now firmly on the radar of Asset and Investment managers who are getting their heads around a new lexicon and learning how they begin to develop asset business plans and investment strategies that mitigate these transition risks.

A necessary first step is to get a baseline of performance to understand the current energy and carbon intensity of assets and funds/portfolios and what the impact of current action plans will be on NZC pathways.

To achieve this companies must get the fundamentals right in terms of having visibility of and centralising information to answer some key questions: where are the gaps in data coverage?, which are the best and worst performers in the portfolio?, What’s the current status of asset action plans?, Where in the portfolio should action be prioritised for improvement on each of these?

Example Portfolio dashboard, SIERA+

Undoubtedly technology plays an essential role here as a tool to drive efficiency and consistency in the data collection process and to centralise that data. However, ultimately this comes down to providing an easy and simple means of engagement and collaboration between Asset & Investment management and Property Managers.

We have developed SIERA+ to better equip property managers in engaging with ESG and addressed the priority needs; provide a simple view on performance against targets, ability to manage data quality and keep on top of actions. Notifications prompt when action is required and it’s generally set up to let users focus on the most material issues.

Example Action Plan dashboard, SIERA+

We also recognise that the culture of Property Managers can vary across diverse portfolios and English is not always the first language. Since this is about improving engagement we have made SIERA+ available in 5 languages.

Get in touch to know more.

ESG Data is Growing Up

We are entering a new era of ESG data. Historic market failures regarding our negative environmental and social impacts, and the resulting climate change, nature loss and social inequality, are starting to be corrected with structural changes to the market.

In the financial sector, we are seeing both dynamic and double materiality becoming an integral part of decision making. The WEF introduced the concept of dynamic materiality in 2020, where an ESG topic which is financial immaterial today can become material tomorrow. That is coupled with double materiality, which considers both the inside-out view of ESG, that is what impact does an asset have on the environment and society, as well as the outside-in view of what impact environmental, social and governance issues have on the asset.

Climate change and carbon pricing is a good example. In terms of dynamic materiality, an increasing number of companies are adopting an evolutionary internal carbon price to drive low carbon investment in real assets and to mitigate the risks of cost increases as climate change externalities are corrected in the economy – this price will increase over time making financial materiality more likely across all sectors. There is an obvious point of connection here with double materiality, which is that real assets create emissions and will inevitably face more regulations over time – see the PRI Inevitable Policy Response Forecast Report. As our climate changes we will see an increase in severity and/or frequency of extreme weather events which can damage and disrupt real assets. All of these aspects of potential materiality have to be considered in financial appraisals and investment-grade ESG data can provide insight on trends and relative performance of assets.

Investment and Asset Managers are using ESG data from assets to make investment decisions: choosing the right assets to acquire and dispose of; deciding how to finance improvements to those assets; and investment & credit risk management processes are now incorporating ESG data. 

Those processes and decisions are becoming more transparent to the providers of capital, so the quality of ESG data has to become investment grade.

The expectations from investors, and their asset managers, of ESG data is closing the gap with the financial and commercial data captured in asset management software, but the budgets invested in ESG data management software and processes is vastly different. ESG data is now more valuable than it has ever been before and financial regulations are going to increase that value. 

The EU Action Plan for Sustainable Finance, and similar changes to UK financial regulations, means that the duties of asset managers & lenders and the decision they take about ESG risks and opportunities are no longer optional.

Without investment-grade data about ESG performance and sustainability actions then it is not possible to understand the full impact on asset value. ESG risk, in particular climate risk, is a financial risk and this data should be incorporated into every financial decision. 

That wasn’t the case last year, so this change is happening quickly. 

ESG data was being used in-house to monitor performance, as it has been for the last decade or so. It was used for annual reporting and for voluntary disclosure. There was a small minority of investors asking about ESG at the start of 2020, but throughout the pandemic this has changed quickly. Last year, there was not a fiduciary duty to be discharged based on ESG data. Nor staff incentive programmes based on ESG measurements. That has all changed as the market has grown up to take a more sophisticated view of how our economy relies on natural and social capital, not just financial and manufactured capital. The materiality of ESG has been recognised across the financial sector.

The financial markets are undergoing a structural change. Sustainable finance, and particularly climate-related finance, is now a global priority. This has led to changing investor requirements and regulatory changes for banks, institutions and fund managers, such as SFDR, MiFID ii and mandatory TCFD reporting are all combining to bring about structural change. We now have to consider dynamic and double materiality and make financial decisions accordingly.

It is slowly, but surely cascading down to real assets: real estate, infrastructure and land.

For those experts in sustainable real estate and infrastructure, it is clear that assets are likely to be mispriced and that the transparency provided by these regulatory requirements for ESG data will make that clear. Without ESG data on performance and actions, it is not possible to assess the cost of transition. For real assets, there is not a trading solution to disperse all of these liabilities by disposing of them to others. There is a need to retain, rethink, invest and dispose based on early knowledge of ESG risks. The later this happens the most likely it is that asset owners will see value erosion through reduced income, defaults, decreasing exit values and cap rate compression.

ESG transparency will also influence tenants and the users of real assets. There is a reputational risk of not taking sustainability performance seriously enough. Now that people have more choice about where they work and live, this risk could be more material to income and asset value than ever before.

At EVORA Global, with our SIERA and SIERA+ software, we are making these risks more visible and manageable. This is enabling our clients to make proactive decisions about their assets and funds, and to effectively engage with investors and other stakeholders.

It is time to approach ESG data in a new way. The historic policies, processes and procedures may no longer be fit for purpose. Most of them are only backwards-looking and there is now mandatory requirements to be forward-looking, which has its risks and uncertainties. In choosing an ESG data management platform ensure that it is future-proof, aware of this rapidly changing financial landscape.


If you would like to get in touch with the EVORA team, you can do so by filling in our form or by emailing contactus@evoraglobal.com

Forward-looking ESG data

To integrate climate risk and sustainability into financial decisions, we need to standardise metrics, improve data quality and ensure that it is forward-looking as well as measuring past performance. For climate risk, this is an essential part of the TCFD Recommendations for integrating climate risk as an investment risk.

Climate risk is divided into three categories:

  1. Transition risk
  2. Physical risk
  3. Litigation risk

They all have forward-looking components. In ESG data terms, we can use historic data and data models to project future implications. We can do this more easily for the E in ESG because we know that we’re operating within planetary boundaries so we know there are limits. The Stockholm Resilience Centre (2015) monitors the nine planetary boundaries shown below.

Whilst this illustration doesn’t show us overshooting the climate change planetary boundary, that is because we haven’t yet. We are on track to do so with our present rate of greenhouse gas (GHG or carbon) emissions. That is why, in 2015, the UN Paris Agreement was signed by 195 states. This Agreement set us on a course to reduce emissions to Net Zero Carbon (NZC) by 2050, which keeps global warming well below 2°C, and ideally 1.5°C, to prevent catastrophic, non-linear climate change.

Over the last two years, many real estate companies and investors have committed to a Net Zero Carbon target and some have a pathway to get there. For most fund managers, they have not yet had time to project out a NZC pathway for their fund and real assets.

A science-based NZC pathway can show a clear route to reducing emissions each year. We need to be over halfway to NZC by 2030. However, local markets will move at different speeds depending on their starting point today; the local regulations; the cost of energy and carbon emissions; and, to some degree, the local awareness of a changed climate and how this forces climate adaptation. Climate adaptation will be required to protect against extreme weather events, which have become fiercer and/or more common over the past decade increasing insurance losses and premia.

These climate risks are the reason why ESG data needs to be forward-looking.

At EVORA Global, we have developed our SIERA software to be forward-looking on climate risk. We have worked on two new modules. The first is focused on NZC and transition risks and this is already available. The second builds on our partnership with Moody’s 427 physical climate risk assessment, which is used by our consultancy team. This will enable users to see both sets of climate risk in one place, associated with each asset and fund.

The screengrab below shows the NZC module, shows a real estate portfolio and the fund’s NZC pathway. This uses asset energy data from the last 9-12 months to calculate carbon emissions for the whole building. Based on asset type and location, it then automatically projects a science-based NZC pathway out to show the required emissions reduction. The tool can then be used to run different scenarios for emissions reduction based on what is know about each asset.

There are other features within the NZC module so do get in touch if you’d like to organise a demo

EVORA Global announces the hire of Ayosha Orth as Associate Director – SIERA Business Development, to further drive its expansion across Europe

EVORA Global is delighted to announce the hire of Ayosha Orth as Associate Director, SIERA Business Development. Ayosha joins EVORA Global in a pivotal year for ESG, and for EVORA, in which we celebrate our tenth year of business.

Ayosha will work closely with EVORA’s management board, the SIERA software business and the European consultancy teams to support and improve customer needs through technology enabled consultancy services and leading software products. Ayosha has a strong real estate background, especially in DACH and southern Europe, having worked for many years in the field of business development and ESG data management, most recently as Senior Business Development Manager for Measurabl. Ayosha’s multilingual skills, practical approach and understanding of Europe’s real estate investment managers’ needs, means he is a great fit for EVORA’s further expansion plans across Europe.

“I strongly believe that investing in real estate has changed for good and ESG has become part of the zeitgeist. Europe’s real estate investment managers are looking for the successful combination of innovative and tailored ESG solutions both on software and consultancy basis to deliver net-zero goals and integrate climate risk mitigation measurements into their real estate life cycle. EVORA Global successfully provides exactly those tools to meet and exceed customer specific needs. I am thrilled to be joining the most integrated and purpose-led sustainability consultancy in real estate at such a significant time.”

Ayosha Orth, Associate Director

“We are delighted to welcome Ayosha to the EVORA team. With ESG rapidly accelerating up the priority list for real estate investment, Ayosha, with his unique mix of real estate and ESG experience, paired with EVORA’s leading combination of ESG consultancy and software, provides the perfect pairing to support the market navigate through this complex and exciting agenda.”

Chris Bennett, Managing Director

EVORA Global leads HECF to winning coveted ESG award

EVORA is delighted to have supported our long-standing client Hines European Core Fund (HECF) in helping them win the 2021 PREA Real Estate Investment Management ESG award, beating 59 other Funds to the prestigious title.

The awards recognise PREA members at the forefront of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues within real estate investing and provides the industry with examples of best practices.

EVORA works closely with HECF to define and develop their sustainability vision across a diverse range of buildings throughout Europe. With a current AUM of over €2 billion spanning 30 assets, HECF has investments in 15 cities across nine countries.

Testament to EVORA’s depth of knowledge and experience in ESG strategy development, complemented by HECF’s commitment to sustainable investing, the Fund was able to commit to the following ongoing actions.

  • Utility data collection program in order to understand, monitor and optimise building operations.
  • Maintain 100% green building certification coverage (many of which are BREEAM In Use assessments conducted by EVORA).
  • 100% landlord-procured renewable electricity (backed by guarantees of origin)
  • Science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2025, and 60% by 2030 across the portfolio, against a 2018 baseline.
  • Net Zero by 2030 for landlord-controlled emissions.
  • On-site renewable solar thermal panels providing hot water at two assets – Caleido in Stuttgart and Via Crespi in Milan.
  • Numerous tenant and community engagement programmes and initiatives.

“Yet another one for HECF’s trophy cabinet! And once again we are proud and grateful to have played a key role in both strategy and delivery. Particular thanks on the EVORA side go to programme lead and Managing Consultant Sarah Harvey who’s rock-solid project management and technical skills were both critical ingredients to this success. Also, thanks to our team of software developers – led by Sonny Masero and Nick Hogg – whose routine enhancements to SIERA keep extending our reach and impact”.

Oliver Pye, Director

GRESB + SIERA = Success

Sustainability data can be complex. It can show many interesting patterns and insightful trends about energy usage, but at the same time be hard to manage.  The ability to use sustainability data to reduce energy usage by seeing the impact of actions is one of its most powerful features. Connecting those patterns and trends to actions leads to results.

GRESB provides a way of thinking about sustainability data which focuses effort on certain areas and types of energy consumption. SIERA is the sustainability software solution by EVORA for managing asset portfolio data to help achieve sustainability goals. SIERA provides a way of seeing those areas and types of energy consumption by organising consumption, meters, properties, and funds to make it easier to understand. That’s why EVORA sustainability consultants use it get the best out of the data, and easily see patterns which otherwise would be hidden.

But GRESB provides its own challenges. Submitting data to GRESB involves making sure the data is correct, accurate and above all reflects the performance of a property and ultimately a portfolio.

GRESB can be challenging to get right

For those who submit to GRESB, there’s a lot of data to prepare – a lot of ducks to get into rows if you will. One of the first hurdles is making sure that your asset data is correct, that floor areas add up correctly and that the consumption, waste or emissions make sense to GRESB. There’s wide range of categories and ownership to consider, and things like where emissions are generated and who consumes them.

In short, it can easily become somewhat of a mountain of information to organise. GRESB provide a website and a spreadsheet you can use to upload data. The website points out where things don’t add up correctly and you work through the errors until they’re all gone.

GRESB also provides the ability to use software to upload your data. This method is very similar to the website except errors are sent to the software instead of the GRESB webpage. SIERA uses this method to direct the wealth of asset data it contains about assets in the portfolios and funds managed by EVORA consultants.

This connection means SIERA can take advantage of its own intelligence to make it easier to prepare for GRESB.

SIERA makes things clearer

SIERA is a platform whose main aim is to make sustainability data more manageable and the intelligence within it easier to see. It shines at tasks like GRESB mainly because it already contains a lot of the data required for a GRESB submission. SIERA uses this data to show the patterns, monitor the impact of actions and to look for potential improvements.

SIERA has a wide range of different ways of showing the data, each taking a different slice of the data to show a pattern. Having so many different views on the data makes it much easier to understand the data which gets sent to GRESB.

Asset-level reporting becomes easy

This year GRESB changed how data is reported. Before it was fund-level, meaning the total consumption and usage of all assets in a fund was submitted. This year it became asset-level. This means the energy and performance of each individual asset is submitted. As you can imagine, this means much more detail is needed and a finer grain of accuracy than before.

Luckily for SIERA users this didn’t pose a problem. SIERA already recorded data at the meter level so this change didn’t cause a problem.

Qualitative survey answers add colour

GRESB doesn’t just focus on utility readings. It also asks a range of questions about the social initiatives, engagements and technical assessments done for each asset. This qualitative data helps to show how a building is being managed and what social programs are taking place to increase the sustainability of an asset.

SIERA captures this data using surveys. SIERA surveys capture exactly the qualitative data that GRESB asks about. Surveys can be sent out to building and property managers for each asset and contain a range of questions about the asset and its management.

SIERA automatically prepares the answers for the GRESB questions which focus on the building management. Where it can, SIERA also uses data it already has to save time for anyone submitting data to GRESB. For example, rather than ask every property manager if a building uses automatic meter readings, SIERA simply looks at the meters in the asset and checks itself.

No GRESB errors doesn’t always mean correct

Once the asset data has been checked for any updates, SIERA displays the whole GRESB submission in one page. This table makes errors or unexpected variances stand out so you can quickly correct any potential mistakes.

EVORA consultants use SIERA to prepare submissions for clients. On top of that, because they’re experts in their field, they use it to see where adjustments might be necessary.

GRESB show where data doesn’t add up using errors and outliers. This helps to make sure data like floor area coverage is correct, but it doesn’t highlight poorly organised data. EVORA consultants know to look for variances which may indicate problems like consumption data that has been incorrectly allocated to the wrong area of the building.

EVORA uses SIERA to achieve higher GRESB scores

Using these SIERA features make GRESB easier to get right, but they also make it easier to get higher scores. EVORA consultants use the fine-grain control of SIERA and the data visualisations and views to get the most out of the data, and correct issues before they get to GRESB.

Whilst other sustainability software can also prepare submissions for GRESB, SIERA ensures that the data is both in its best form, and used to get real results. Once the GRESB period is over EVORA consultants use the data to feedback to clients to help guide which actions will achieve an asset’s sustainability goals.

This combination of EVORA + SIERA explains how EVORA helped a number of our clients achieve GRESB global sector leadership and Hines Europe to achieve 100% in its Resilience score.

If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch with the team at contactus@evoraglobal.com.

How difficult can it be to develop software?

Back in 2011 Paul, Ed and I founded EVORA Global, a niche sustainability consultancy focussed on the real estate investment market, driven by a passion to make a difference.

A year later we were winning more clients, gathering an abundance of data and our spreadsheets started bursting at the seams. Although there was a proliferation of energy management software around, sustainability software was thin on the ground. After a very brief relationship with a small outfit, which went bust even before the ink had dried on our agreement, we made the bold move of deciding to do it ourselves – I mean, how difficult could it be?

It’s worth noting at this point none of us had any software experience but when you’re budding entrepreneurs why let a minor point of naivety and ignorance get in the way of a great idea and enthusiasm.

My friend Pete, a software developer who had recently been made redundant, and had kicked off a mobile app business, was keen to support us. So, with a hefty budget of £30k supported by a ‘detailed’ design sketched out on numerous bits of paper, Pete launched off to create the best and latest sustainability software to wow our clients. And amazingly it was pretty good. How and why on earth do companies spend millions on software development we thought.

Ok, so we did more than double the budget that year to add a few bells and whistles and for at least 12 months all was looking good. But nothing is ever that straight forward. Our business was growing, our clients were getting more demanding and the software had been built on a simple (and cheap) framework to speed up development, which quickly hit a ceiling of scalability and functionality.

After a swift Board meeting the decision was made to up the investment in the software to create release two. In reality, this actually meant starting again from scratch but since we thought we knew what we were doing now, what could go wrong.

With a bigger budget Pete built Version 2 in a new framework and with some outside help. Again, it was impressive what we achieved but it was very much a tool for our consultants, rather than a client facing software product. This was not a necessarily a bad thing. It was driving internal productivity and ensuring the quality of data, something we’d become recognised for. But keen to engage and excite our clients, we designed some impressive reporting formats, outsourcing the development to a third party. We learnt a lot at this stage, most of it painful and costly.

Having negotiated what seemed like a great deal with the outsourcing company, the reality is you get what you pay for. The ineptitude of one of their staff highlighted this, when we happened to stumble upon a tweet from one of their juniors saying how great it was to be put in charge of a project having only recently graduated – yes, our project.

Major overruns and a proliferation of bugs, which went untested turned out not to be the major issue. We’d developed an ‘almost’ amazing interactive front end…. which our clients did not want to use – “Just send us PDF prints” was the feedback. The problem was there was no PDF print functionality – somehow, we’d missed this during our market evaluation.

So fast forward several years and we now have a dedicated inhouse team of 10 software professionals who are great at what they do, producing a fantastic software platform, SIERA.

We have now, like the others, spent several millions on the software – all self-funded I might add. SIERA is used by our consultants (all 47 of them) to deliver tech enabled solutions to our clients – and it does it amazingly well. And it has helped us win some major instructions with leaders in the industry such as Schroders, LGIM, UBS, Hines and The Crown Estate.

Until recently, our investment has been predominantly under the bonnet, rather than client facing. In simple terms, if other sustainability software  products are like a getting into a shiny BMW, SIERA is like getting into the cockpit of an Airbus – you need a pilot to fly it, but you’ll get way further. SIERA is different to its competitors, and better.

Investing in SIERA is a continual process and we work with experts to create the optimal experience for the many types of users who engage with SIERA. Most recently we released our Climate Risk functionality that supports investment managers in setting and tracking their energy and net zero carbon targets, whilst highlighting high energy intensity buildings with poor energy ratings. It’s this level of insight that enables us to uniquely support our clients in managing their risks.

SIERA is an incredibly powerful software tool, totally niche to the real estate investment market. It helps our consultants to deliver amazing solutions to our clients, and it helps our clients understand and reach their sustainability goals. This is the essence of who we are.

I’ll keep you updated on SIERA’s continued evolution, in the meantime, if you’re interested in finding out more about SIERA please let me know.

cbennett@evoraglobal.com

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”@SIERAsoftware is designed in a responsive and agile format, this is called Agile Development. ” quote=”SIERA is designed in a responsive and agile format, this is called Agile Development. “]

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”SIERA can become the solution that will fill the gap in everyone’s workflow, saving them time and effort.” quote=”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”]

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?
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