Aquicore Seeks to Enhance Their Customers' Competitive Advantage by Improving LEED and ENERGY STAR Recognitions
By Caitlin Croft / Aug 20, 2019 / InfluxDB, InfluxDB Cloud
Aquicore provides their commercial real estate (CRE) customers with a platform that allows them to track, analyze and predict building and energy data. Through their cloud-based solution, Aquicore’s clients have access to their IoT-driven smart asset platform. It’s easy to get started with the product and it helps improve communication between executives, property managers and building engineers.
One of the biggest pain points in the commercial real estate industry is their disparate data and it isn’t real time. As Mike Donovan, VP of Products at Aquicore, points out, “The property manager has one reason to collect energy data while the building engineer has another reason and they’re completely siloed. There’s no central platform that can give access to all this data let alone real-time visibility.” For example, Cushman & Wakefield manages approximately 400 offices spread across 70 countries. They need to be able to drill down into their data based on building and individual tenants.
Aquicore’s platform is used to improve 250M square feet of commercial real estate space in 700+ buildings. Some of these buildings include: the John Hancock Tower, Salesforce Tower, National Press Building, Promenade and NASCAR Plaza. Some of their clients include: Cushman & Wakefield, JBG Smith, Lincoln Property Company, MRP Realty, Under Armour, Facebook, The World Bank and Salesforce.com.
They were cognizant that the CRE industry is often behind the curve when it comes to becoming data-driven. They decided they needed to add sensors throughout their properties to collect real time data such as water usage, temperature and energy consumption. They added data into their solution to augment the data they already collected and analyzed into their solution. To maintain the performance of their solution, they needed to add the latest IoT data ingestion, storage and aggregation technologies into their platform. Ultimately, they wanted to empower their customers to automate billing, drive insights, optimize performance and provide informed decision-making for their property managers, building engineers and accounting.
Outdated technology and inaccessible data presented Aquicore with growth opportunities. As their customer base grew, they knew there were more business challenges they could address with their platform. Collecting data around a building’s energy or water usage could be very time-consuming and wasn’t always accurate. Existing sensors were often quite outdated as they were hosted with an on-premise server, and there weren’t any historical capabilities. As a result, it was hard to forecast and budget. Not all of Aquicore’s customers are managing new buildings, like the Salesforce Tower. Some of their customers are managing old buildings with outdated equipment and need even more information on how the equipment is being used. Tenant requirements differ from building managers; they often wanted more information than what the building is able to provide. They desire insights into their energy usage, utility spend and billing.
<figcaption> Siloed teams, Excel sheets, outdated information, and decisions made by instinct over data</figcaption>
LEED certifications and ENERGY STAR ratings result in green workspaces
Aquicore provides CRE professionals with better visibility into their buildings and often the data is used to reduce a building’s impact on the environment. In 2000, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. It recognizes buildings that are designed, built and managed with the environment in mind. LEED enables organizations to have a third-party confirm that a building’s structure and operations are green. LEED’s ultimate goal is to reduce the environmental impact of new construction and maximize a building’s operational efficiency. For example, the Salesforce Tower’s design was created in the hope of getting LEED Gold certified. They considered the building materials, energy, site location, water consumption, recycling, landscaping, ventilation, HVAC system, etc. The Salesforce Tower ultimately was given the highest level of certification: LEED Core & Shell, v2009 (Platinum).
ENERGY STAR is another standard used to benchmark buildings based on their energy performance. According to Aquicore, about 40% of commercial buildings in the U.S. are benchmarked with ENERGY STAR. Businesses are able to gain better insight into their buildings. They are able to determine how a specific building is performing in comparison to others with similar attributes, and they can discover areas for improvement. ENERGY STAR has reported that buildings that are benchmarked consistently have seen their average use of energy drop by 2.4% per year.
The popularity of ENERGY STAR is growing so much so that New York City’s government became the first to require ENERGY STAR reporting from all buildings. For commercial real estate developers striving to achieve LEED certification, USGBC will ask for the ENERGY STAR score, as it can lead to a significant increase in a building’s LEED score.
Customers gain further insight into their buildings
Aquicore needed to be able to provide their customers with modern technology even if the buildings weren’t equipped for it when built. It was important for Aquicore’s team to use the latest technologies to aid in automating billing, drive insights, optimize performance and inform decision-making for property managers, building engineers and accounting. As a lot of their data was coming from sensors and because IoT data is time series data, they knew they needed a time series database.
Prior to implementing InfluxDB Cloud, Aquicore had built their time series database using PostgreSQL; however, this type of relational database wasn’t designed to handle time series workloads. They knew they needed a tool that could handle high data ingestion and data aggregation at various levels. It became clear that their database wasn’t addressing all of their requirements.
Building management and tenants desired real-time visibility into their spaces. And therefore, they needed to collect and store metrics and event data from utility meters, submeters, building equipment and environmental conditions of the building. As InfluxDB is purpose-built for time series data, it made sense for Aquicore to transition to InfluxDB Cloud (SaaS version of InfluxDB).
<figcaption> Hardware solution architecture</figcaption>
Using InfluxDB Cloud has allowed the Aquicore SaaS solution to provide real-time and actionable insights to revolutionize “Asset Operations” for CRE owners and operations.
While commercial buildings can do a lot when being built to become eco-friendly, there are a lot of ongoing metrics that help them stay green. Prior to InfluxDB Cloud, Aquicore’s customers would only receive one point of data about their energy or water usage and this isn’t enough to make informed decisions. Building engineers had to manually taking reading from meters the readings were often erroneous and time-consuming. InfluxData’s solution is able to provide Aquicore’s customers with real-time visibility into all of their data, including previously untapped data. As it is purpose-built for time series data, they are able to dive into their metrics and events more effectively.
While some of their customers’ buildings are brand new, often the buildings are decades old and more data is needed to understand how the equipment is being used. In addition to building management requiring more data, individual tenants are interested in their specific usages. For example, the layout of a tenant’s space and which floor they reside on can all factor into utility consumption.
Different tenants have different expectations from their building’s management, but they all want real-time access to their energy usage, utility spend and building across web and mobile.
<figcaption> Aquicore centralizes commercial real estate operations</figcaption>
CRE companies and owners can improve their building’s ENERGY STAR rating by becoming more efficient. By investing in eco-friendly projects, building owners can raise their score and reduce monthly utility bills by up to 30 percent. There are organizations that won’t lease office space if the ENERGY STAR rating is below a certain threshold. These companies care about corporate social responsibility and see their building’s ratings as a PR tool; so they are willing to pay for a more energy-efficient office space. Additionally, the USGBC found that “employees who work in LEED-certified green buildings are happier, healthier and more productive.’’ Furthermore, they found that if a job applicant has multiple, equitable job offers, they will often choose the LEED-certified organization.
InfluxDB Cloud has improved Aquicore’s competitive advantage. CRE companies have equipped their buildings with IoT sensors throughout. These sensors include meters for the building and sub-meters for individual tenants. Some of these sensors are collecting data on humidity, internal temperatures, electricity usage, water usage, noise and indoor air quality (IAQ).
All of this data is time series data and their tenants want access to the data specific to their office space. Some of their clients don’t need to be able to drill down into the data every minute. Some of them only need their data split into 15-minute intervals, as this is how they are billed and they are interested in how much their energy costs. By migrating to a time series database, Aquicore has been able to provide their clients with the desired metrics around their data. InfluxDB Cloud has increased Aquicore’s value-add to their customers.
To learn more about how Aquicore is utilizing InfluxData, check out the full story.