Monitoring environmental standards for buildings and producing regular sustainability reports is nowadays a central part of the work of property managers and property maintenance professionals. This reporting demonstrates that the property is run sustainably and also increases the transparency of environmental and financial accountability between all parties involved – the owners, users and administration. In this article, Fidelix’s Antti Koskinen shares his thoughts on the role of sustainability reporting from the property perspective and how we can facilitate the reporting process. Read on to find out more!
What is sustainability reporting about?
In these present times, when all available means must be harnessed for bringing climate change under control, it is important that the property sector also plays its part. Property managers have a large responsibility here, as they must be able to demonstrate that their building or property operates according to the sustainability standards or goals set for it.
Why is sustainability reporting important for property managers?
Smooth and efficient sustainability reporting is important primarily because properties are nowadays subject to increasing legal obligations in areas such as emissions and ecological standards. According to the construction industry as much as 40% of all energy produced in Finland is currently consumed in buildings, and these buildings are also the source of one third of total emissions.
Property managers must be able to concretely demonstrate in a transparent manner the climate change prevention measures implemented in their own properties and the impact they have had. The easiest way to do this is through reliable and comprehensive reporting.
On the other hand, property users and companies are also increasingly asking for data on property sustainability in order to reach their own sustainability goals or environmental goals. Decision-makers make choices with an emphasis on sustainability, and partners are also required to act in line with sustainable development principles. For example, it may be that a company wants to see a sustainability report commissioned by the property owner before signing the lease agreement in order to ensure that the promised environmental actions are line with what has already been carried out. When all the data on areas such as energy consumption and the property’s carbon footprint can be found within one tool, and not scattered across different spreadsheets and notebooks, the property manager can save a lot of time and resources.
Property sustainability reporting starts with environmental classifications and standards
Although Finland does not yet have a corporate responsibility act, almost every company has its own corporate responsibility programme or standards which require it to commit to reducing emissions and its carbon footprint, promoting the well-being of its stakeholders, and so on.
Many properties today have policies based on a specific environmental classification or certification system that regulates processes and their optimization from the construction phase through to commissioning. In Finland, some of the most common are:
LEED Certification System: The US-based LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green property certification system that aims to reduce the environmental impact of properties and improve environmentally efficient construction.
BREEAM rating system
BREEAM rating system: The BREEAM (Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method) is a UK-based rating system for environmentally efficient properties that, like LEED, lays down guidelines for environmentally friendly design, construction and building operation.
RTS environmental classification
RTS environmental classification: This is the environmental classification maintained by the Building Information Foundation. It pays special attention to Finnish weather conditions in relation to construction and sustainable property management.
WELL Building Standard
WELL Building Standard: This standard takes sustainability one step further than just environmental and ecological matters. The seven concepts of the WELL standard also cover how comfortable the building is and whether the space and environment support the well-being of its users. The concepts are air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
From the property perspective, compliance with the standard’s different environmental classifications and standards requires, for example, responsible energy use and consumption and effectively limiting district heat consumption and the carbon dioxide emissions this produces.
Measurement data from multiple sources or from a single platform?
As I already mentioned, sustainability reporting can cause a lot of headaches for property managers. The different types of data generated by building automation systems can be spread across many platforms and hidden behind many passwords, and it can take a lot of time and effort to gather it all together. In addition to this fragmented reporting data, it is also likely that the certificate systems or environmental classifications are different for different properties. This means there may be several reporting models to deal with, which only increases the toil and strain of sustainability reporting. So now for the question:
How do you take care of sustainability reporting for your property?
Do you collect data from many different sources, with lighting, energy consumption, water consumption, indoor air conditions, sound levels, or other areas of measurement data coming from different service providers? Do you or one of your employees do the work yourselves to build the report, or the multiple reports? Is this seen as a cumbersome chore or a good practice?
Do you need help with cross-referencing data in the reports? We at Fidelix may have some quick and practical help to offer you. With our Flow_how tool, data collection from building automation systems can be centrally administered. This means that pre-processed data can be easily compiled using a ready-made report template. If you already have a reporting system (such as Microsoft Power BI or something similar), you can use the API to connect the data directly to your system. In other words, you will receive a completed report in real time directly from the building automation system to your reporting system.
Sustainability issues and sustainability reporting may seem to many property professionals to be a heavy expense that involves an unreasonable amount of working hours and resources. I firmly believe that, when done with the right tools, such reporting can serve many good purposes, such as improving properties’ energy efficiency, finding better forms of energy and supporting sustainable development. When the data and results are taken into account in everyday work, and when investments are made in making reporting part of an ongoing monitoring process, sustainability reporting can become a productive activity that brings better quality and more efficient properties.