Applying Whole-Building Thinking to Content Strategy

My introduction to the buildings industry began in 2007 when I led the awareness campaign for the IDeAs Z-squared facility, one of the USA’s first net zero energy buildings.


IDeAs Z-Squared Building is designed to produce more electric energy than it uses. Photo: David Wakely

I was schooled in whole building design principles and the integrated design process from American Institute of Architecture Fellows from EHDD Architecture and Integral Group. Basically, this process involves thinking about all the downstream impacts on sub-system design, construction and maintenance of the ultimate building – including comfort, energy and security goals – way upfront in the earliest phases of design. It means making a lot of the most important decisions as a cross-discipline team – architect, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, daylight and lighting designer, general contractor and owner coming to agreement about the best way to move forward. All that stretching across specialties to understand another professional’s perspective can be arduous, but it’s the only way to get to a high performance building.

Creating a content strategy for any buildings technology requires similar whole-building thinking. You need to consider the thing from the vantage of all those that hold influence or purchase power. That could be any of the titles mentioned above as well as others like facility operator, control system integrator, chief sustainability officer, employee occupant, etc.  Your message matrix might also need to consider the information needs of the banker or CFO that needs to finance it, the local utilities that have to service it, the municipality that defines building code to support it, and the real estate buying/leasing community that needs to value it. From a content marketer’s Point of View, that’s a lot of personas to reach and inform. Those coming from other industries may be surprised at how difficult it is to extract actual results from real building projects to talk about in a case study or other piece of content. The ‘gold standard’ is to get a project featured in a professional publication like ASHRAE’s High Performance Buildings magazine.  The editors put submitted abstracts and articles a thorough committee review process. Facts are checked.  I managed copywriting and the submittal process for this article on IDeAs Z-Squared Facility.

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