The usual tools: some combination of carrot, stick, and heavy regulation.
Another theme consistent throughout the first two days of the Urban Land Institute Spring Meeting, an annual conference focused on energy efficiency in real estate and urban design: Competition.
Turning serious goals into bouts of healthy one-upmanship is, by now, a conventional approach - the great news is that there are more and better tools available now than around this time last year. One exciting launch covered in both the Climate Change, Land Use and Energy Advisory Board meeting and in Carol Browner’s opening keynote: the social energy app. A joint effort with Facebook, Opower and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the app enables Facebook users to compare their energy consumption with that of their peers. The launch is four weeks in. With participation from 16 utilities reaching up to 20 million households - even in the sea of pre-IPO chatter, this is big news for real estate.
Efficiency in buildings is all about operational performance - but it's awfully difficult to be the best, or to promise that a building designed to the highest standards is delivering, without a way to quantify what's going on inside. Past industry efforts to collect and share data have struggled to be relevant, burdened in part by cumbersome and asymmetrical inputs, heavy fees, infrequent updates, and the participants’ ability to remain anonymous or batched with other peer groups. To overcome these obstacles, like the rapidly growing Honest Buildings platform, the Facebook application will be free, simple, visible immediately and linked to as much other information as the user elects to share.
As with any long-term goal tough enough to matter, consistent effort will be critical.
In the product demo launched earlier this year,LeBron James asks “How do you measure greatness?” Sensors in the basketball shoes quantify how fast you are, how high you jump, how quick you are with your feet - things we had a sense of but could only guess at before. The point of it all: to “allow you to compete against your friends, your rivals and yourself… to see your game like never before.”
If Facebook or any of the other data sharing applications can inspire this mentality at an individual or corporate level, building performance may just see a little more hustle.