Tom Balme, Senior Technical Account Manager
In the latest episode of the Building Peak Performance podcast series, we talk about how building analytics is transforming the retail industry and delivering tangible triple-bottom-line results through energy and operational efficiency outcomes. Quick wins at individual shopping centres are prompting owners to adopt building analytics solutions across their entire portfolio as they start to recognise the long-term benefits of taking a more proactive approach to retail asset performance.
It is no secret that operating a shopping centre and maintaining the right thermal comfort for visitors and staff incurs massive capital and running costs. Retail owners previously had no access to the data that could help them understand the facts around these costs, making it very difficult to identify how to reduce outgoings. It meant that equipment upgrade decisions were being led by consultants and vendors who would suggest upgrades based on perceived equipment failure or best estimates of how long equipment should last. There was no focus on trying to find and solve the root cause of the problem before upgrading equipment.
Building analytics technologies such as CIM’s PEAK platform provides owners and operators with the visibility and transparency needed across each site and entire portfolios to take away the guesswork and facilitate data-driven decision-making. PEAK connects into a building’s live data systems including the building management system where it collects and analyses data from all the equipment that heats, cools, and ventilates the building. By getting in under the hood, it can pinpoint where, when and why equipment is operating inefficiently, how it impacts asset lifecycle, and solutions to resolve issues of poor performance.
Understanding how everything operates and then making the necessary adjustments so equipment and systems run at peak performance facilitates smarter capex planning too. Retails owners and operators no longer need to rely on the experience and opinion of their consultants or industry benchmarks to determine when equipment should be upgraded.
Now, with the granular level of data provided by analytics platforms like PEAK, we can take a look at what is actually occurring in your equipment and make a long-term prediction based on the data, to sweat equipment for as long as possible and minimise capital expenditure.
For example, PEAK identified opportunities to operate the chilled water pumps much more efficiently in a building owned by one of our Australian retail clients. This client had been advised that their chilled water pumps had reached their 20-year lifespan, and needed to be replaced. This advice was given after a brief visual inspection of the pump, accounting for its age, and with no consideration of months or years worth of performance trend data. Replacing these chilled water pumps would have cost between $20,000 to $30,000 each, which amounts to massive cost when scaled across an entire portfolio. Our expert building engineers analysed months of historical performance trend data on the PEAK platform to accurately assess the actual performance of the pumps and found there had been negligible performance degradation. The outcome was that the pumps did not need to be replaced and the capex which would have otherwise been spent on equipment that was operating satisfactorily was instead diverted to other equipment which did require replacement, or deferred to a future budget.
Sometimes it can be harder to quantify when equipment will need to be replaced and that is where data science is so helpful. With PEAK, you don’t need to gather 20 years worth of data before providing accurate, smart, data-driven capex planning decisions. PEAK can analyse data collected over a short timeframe to accurately detect degradation in equipment performance and provide far-improved insight as to when a replacement needs to occur and be budgeted for,
The ability to use building analytics to understand what’s going on inside a shopping centre’s plant room removes the reliance on consultant experience and expertise by giving facility managers and onsite teams control over how they operate their centres and allocate their budgets. The benefit of this facts-based approach is amplified when working across portfolios, as facility managers can make quicker and smarter decisions relevant to their entire portfolio which benefits everyone from the plant room right up to the board room. A more comfortable, energy-efficient and sustainable centre provides an improved shopping experience for visitors while the cost savings of running at peak performance adds significant value for owners and investors.