Case Studies Needed!

There’s agreement that financing is the big obstacle to energy efficiency. Case studies that document and certify energy savings and occupant feedback are all-important to making the ROI argument to financial types. They should be easy. Just follow a standard “problem-solution-results” (PSR) protocol in a format which allows apples-to-apples comparisons. But, for building energy upgrades, quantitative results have been hard to collect, and apples-to-apples comparisons are almost impossible to make. To date, decision-makers haven’t had a volume of case studies to reference and the dilemma has stalled the market.

Lucid Design Group’s Vladi Shunturov puts it this way, “Building owners have decided they won’t make improvements until they have everything monitored with interval data to see what’s the best candidate for the dollars.

So Lucid has introduced cloud software to pull together all the data needed to make a case, and it is partnering with the professional services online exchange site Honest Buildings to get more case studies out to decision makers. The two start-ups are not alone among sites tackling the problem of case studies. There is also Noesis Energy and the DOE-sponsored Energy Efficiency Building Hub.

Lucid just launched BuildingOS, cloud software that allows users to flow their meter data and building system data into one platform for easy visualization and reporting. The concept of a whole-building energy dashboard is far from new – Lucid has been in the business for years and all the big equipment vendors offer versions. But, no one has been able to scale the business because the big energy equipment players have not made it easy to get at their data. “There is no open platform that’s both easy to use and accurate,” explains Shunturov. As an equipment-neutral, smaller player, Lucid believes its BuildingOS is a solution that will break the impasse.

Honest Buildings is one marketplace/exchange site that is compiling an impressive database of building profile pages. Companies contributing services and products as well as corporate tenants and individual occupants can add to the profile, thus building a rich case study via social media methods. Noesis Energy offers match-ups with 3rd Party Energy Auditing firms that will validate energy savings in the form of a case study, and it will help promote case studies that have been validated in this way on its website.

I’m very impressed with the traction that home-improvement social media outpost, Houzz, has in the residential market. It has made its mobile app a centerpiece of its strategy, and has gathered some 250,000 designers, contractors and other buildings professionals into its community who are eagerly throwing up case studies. It’s “on fire,” as Pando Daily reporter Michael Carney observes.  Give it some time, but I don’t see why Houzz, or at least its approach to Community, Content & Commerce, won’t expand to commercial building case studies. 

None of these new venues diminish the prestige of getting a case study accepted for publication in a professional journal like ASHRAE’s High Performance Buildings magazine.  The editors send out submitted abstracts and articles to a committee of peers for review and fact-checking. I managed copywriting and the submittal process for this article on IDeAs Z-Squared Facility, also described in this post.

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