November 20th 2023

Advancing Whole-life Performance Measurement: The Role of In-use Data Monitoring

Advancing Whole-life Performance Measurement: The Role of In-use Data Monitoring

In a recent collaborative industry whitepaper, IES explored the potential of a whole-life performance approach for designing and operating buildings. Named Sleeping Digital Twins, the paper explores the underutilization of existing 3D design, energy compliance, and BIM models, demonstrating how these could evolve into digital twins to enhance operational building performance.

The whitepaper, drawing insights from industry stakeholders and a comprehensive survey, revealed a shared enthusiasm for a whole-life building performance approach. Stakeholders acknowledged its potential to optimise performance at every stage, aligning with crucial net-zero carbon goals.

Nevertheless, the study highlighted persistent barriers hindering widespread data-driven adoption, including resistance to change, cost concerns, resource limitations, legal issues, data governance challenges, technological disparities, lack of awareness, and educational gaps.

While industry-wide collaboration is necessary to overcome these barriers, organisations can take immediate steps toward achieving net-zero targets. Both consultant and client stakeholders must broaden their perspective beyond their specific roles in the design or build process, keeping the end building's operational performance in mind.

Key Role of Data-Driven Monitoring
The adoption of data-driven monitoring initiatives such as monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx), post-occupancy evaluation (POE), or in-use building performance evaluation (in-use BPE) is pivotal in closing the performance gap between design and operation. These initiatives serve as a crucial driver for embedding a whole-life performance measurement approach.

Challenges in Data Accessibility
A common challenge faced in this approach is the accessibility of required data. Many Owner/Operators perceive Building Management System (BMS) data as self-managing, leading to a lack of maintenance and service, which ultimately impacts performance. Additionally, contracts often lack language on data access and ownership, exacerbating the struggle for necessary data.

Owner/Operators can address these challenges by taking proactive measures:

  • Verify access to Energy + BMS data regularly, conducting data sense checks to ensure its accuracy.
  • If lacking adequate access, engage with BMS engineers and building analytics specialists to explore available options through a collaborative round-table discussion.
  • Introduce technical/legal language on data access and ownership in contract specifications to define expectations, compliance metrics, and penalties for non-compliance.

To address the educational gap, AEC professionals can play a crucial role in educating clients about the significance of improved commissioning and in-use evaluation. This, in turn, will drive demand for services such as NABERS, LEED MBCx, POE, and other digitally enabled services during the operational phase.

Bridging the Gap - Training Opportunity
In recognizing the lack of education and upskilling, I have developed a training course titled ‘Bridging the Gap’ for Design-side Energy Modellers. This course aims to facilitate the transition from energy modelling to in-use monitoring, contributing to the overall advancement of the industry. Limited places are available for the series running in Nov/Dec 2023, with additional dates to be scheduled in early 2024 as per demand. Find out more and secure your spot.

As the industry strives towards a decarbonised built environment, embracing data-driven monitoring and overcoming barriers to a whole-life performance approach through collaboration and education are vital steps toward achieving crucial global net-zero targets.

Download the Sleeping Digital Twins whitepaper.