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Data science at hello energy: “more actionable insights” – Interview with Sameer

As a software solution that helps connect and engage real estate owners in sustainability, we’re constantly evolving our features so that our customers can create energy-positive buildings. Sameer Chourasia is a data scientist at hello energy who is committed to improving our features with his sharp analytical skills.

We’re working on ways to notify you on how to reduce the footprint of your buildings. You’ll be able to tell the difference between business as usual versus really good practice.”

Sameer Chourasia
Data scientist at hello energy

Getting the most out of big data is all about problem-solving. You need to be able to recognise patterns, structure a solution and challenge assumptions. Sustainability is a complex subject in which a number of data puzzles need to be solved: collecting the data, connecting it to gain valuable insights and monitoring to see how people engage with it. Luckily, Sameer brings all of these skills to the table to find those missing pieces and brings this knowledge to hello energy. He’s working on a number of analyses, one of which is our ‘benchmark’ feature’.

“Right now, our benchmark feature shows how well your building is performing compared to the industry standards. We’d like to create a more detailed overview comparing your building to similar buildings in your area, or use multiple other benchmarks for electricity, gas, heat, water and CO2 emissions so that you can get better actionable insights.

Sameer’s work is not just about making our features smarter or collecting data. It’s also about providing actionable insights; that is, nudging you and other customers to take action towards a zero-emission goal.

Sameer: “We’re working on ways to notify you on how to reduce the footprint of your buildings. Customers will be able to tell the difference between business as usual versus really good practice.”

Research by Sameer on smart meters across Europe

Another focal point of his research is optimising our automation process. Collecting data is one of the most time-sensitive processes for our customers because it entails installing sensors or getting access to energy data from third parties. But this step is crucial in connecting the dots. That’s why hello energy wants to make this process as smooth and easy as possible.

Sameer: “Our aim would be to replace manual processes with automatic ones so our customers won’t have to fuss over details and can focus on the big picture and their sustainability milestones.”

The best part about Sameer’s work is that it helps hello energy and our customers to find answers to things that are unknown, learn new things and pushes us to find new approaches to make an impact.

“I like that some of my work focuses on client features, whereas other research is more open-ended and can take me in a number of different directions. It’s very exciting and satisfying when my research helps to solve problems or find new opportunities.”

New feature: the Sustainability Radar

Want to make your buildings more sustainable? But struggle to align your stakeholders? Our latest feature, the Sustainability Radar helps you find out where you stand and plan out your roadmap to create energy-positive buildings.

The Sustainability Radar is our latest feature within our software solution that helps real estate owners and their stakeholders get a better grip of where they stand by measuring and visualising their sustainability score.

It measures the steps you’ve already taken on these four key aspects: policy, communication, technical measures, and behaviour. And it tells you where you and your stakeholders are aligned, or misaligned. This helps you improve collaboration, create ambassadors for impact, and determine your next steps towards a sustainability roadmap.


How does it work?

1. Reach out to your stakeholders

If you’re an asset manager or sustainability manager, you can invite your building’s stakeholders, such as your property manager or your tenants, to take part in the Sustainability Radar.

2. Answer all the questions

All invited stakeholders fill in the Radar. This consists of a questionnaire covering four sustainability topics: policy, communication, technical measures, and behaviour. The points you’ll get for each given answer add up to a personal sustainability score.

3. Learn from the results
After completing the questions, each participant will get a personal sustainability score, which is visualised in a spiderweb, The spiderweb shows you how you score in all four categories. Here’s an example on the left. The scores for policy are a little behind on other categories. In this case, the advice is to focus on improving the scores for policy- for example by creating a roadmap to working towards your sustainability goals.
4. Take action

Read the tips and see how you can improve your sustainability scores. Talk with your fellow stakeholders about your sustainability score and find out in which areas you can work together. Plan your next move in your journey towards energy-positive buildings!

Your journey to create energy-positive buildings starts here
Want to find out how it works? Sign up for a hello energy via the form at the bottom of this page.

Green leases: tenants & stakeholders committing to sustainability

Real estate has a significant negative impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Did you know that emissions from commercial buildings are most influenced by tenants? Green leases are a new form of managing buildings, meant to solidify commitment to sustainability goals between building owners and tenants and improve the building’s social value and performance.

A recent article by Savills says that the best way to reduce negative impacts and improve the efficiency and productivity of the whole building is through collaboration. What’s more, the majority of a building’s social value potential comes from landlords and occupants working together.

Green leasing is a great way to mitigate sustainability risks and improve ways to manage the social and environmental performance of a building.

What does green leasing mean?

There is no standardised method of classifying a lease as ‘green’, but the article mentions that it includes documents and clauses that intend to have the landlord and its tenants commit to operating the buildings sustainably. This can be done per building, but also on a portfolio level. Green leases include agreements on things such as reducing energy consumption, emissions, resource, and waste. Green leases also need to address how sustainability data will be shared in both directions to facilitate optimal performance.

Sharing insights on sustainability

Green leases have many benefits: not only do they provide improvements for the environmental and social performance of the buildings, but it also helps real estate owners manage compliance and score significantly better on sustainability certifications.

The article on Savills adds: “It has the potential to enhance an organization’s reputation through benchmarking, improve the wellbeing of the building’s occupants, attract and retain talent through shared core values and provide assurance for tenants that their ESG priorities will be met.”

Have you thought of new ways to get your stakeholders and tenants to commit to greener real estate? hello energy provides a solution that puts all insights on sustainability at your fingertips and in plain sight. Discover more here. 

Image credit: siyuan LI via Unsplash.

Cycling 10 times more efficient than electric cars for reaching net-zero cities

A recent study published on journalism platform the Conversation, shows that active travel such as cycling can contribute to tackling the climate emergency earlier than electric vehicles while also providing affordable, reliable, clean, healthy, and congestion-busting transportation.

In the study, more than 4000 participants from London, Antwerp, Barcelona, Vienna, Orebro, Rome, and Zurich were followed over a two-year period, by entering 10,000 travel diary entries.

The main reason for this research paper on transport is that is one of the most challenging sectors to ‘decarbonize’ due to its heavy fossil fuel use and reliance on carbon-intensive infrastructures – such as roads, airports, and the vehicles themselves. “Globally, only one in 50 new cars were fully electric in 2020. Sounds impressive, but even if all new cars were electric now, it would still take 15-20 years to replace the world’s fossil fuel car fleet”, says Clint Witchalls, Health & Medicine Editor.

The study points to alternative means of transport such as car swapping, cycling, e-biking, and walking (coined as ‘active travel) and the potential to reduce emissions significantly.

It shows that:

  • Emissions from cycling can be more than 30 times lower for each trip than driving a fossil fuel car, and about ten times lower than driving an electric one.
  • Cyclists had 84% lower CO2 emissions from all daily travel than non-cyclists.
  • Life cycle CO2 emissions decreased by 14% for each additional cycling trip.
  • The top 10% of participants were responsible for 59% of life cycle CO2 emissions.
  • Regular cycling was most strongly associated with reduced life cycle CO2 emissions for commuting and social trips.

Read the full article here.

Image courtesy of Sabina Fratila via Unsplash.

We’re moving to the cloud

hello energy is scaling up rapidly. Serving over customers worldwide and continuously increasing the features of our products, requires that we keep on our toes and prepare for future capabilities. That’s why we’ve been working on scaling up our development process, as well as moving our infrastructure to the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Lifting and shifting
The process has already kicked off this January and we’re working on this alongside our current environment. It’s a hassle-free process and our customers won’t notice a thing while we’re improving on our SaaS solution architecture and preparing it for future developments.

Barrie Vince, our Chief Technology Officer says: “Building in the cloud allows us to create fast, scalable and multi-device solutions. We will do this by ‘lifting and shifting’ our current solution. In the near future, it won’t matter if we serve 500 or 5 million buildings, because the AWS platform allows us to expand our capacity very rapidly. It also gives us access to AWS Analytics, which can provide elaborate insights on data, and machine learning capabilities so our services become increasingly smart.”

Involvement of stakeholders crucial to meet sustainability goals
Benno Schwarz, CEO adds: “A net-zero carbon strategy in real estate is impossible without the involvement of all stakeholders. That means that within our solution, especially for customers with a larger real estate portfolio, we need to connect multiple users to our platform, as well as offer connection to multiple devices. Gaining actionable insights will increase alignment and engagement around sustainability goals.”

AWS not only helps us realize international expansion by having datacenters over the world, but their policies also tie in with our sustainable vision. Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge— a commitment to be net-zero carbon across their business by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.

Why mondays are great to encourage sustainable behaviour

Sustainable goals can only be achieved when you’re working together, but you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Especially on those typical ‘manic Mondays’. It turns out though, that Mondays are the perfect moment to change habits.

Engaging and aligning others, whether it’s your employees, building stakeholders or portfolio managers, in making behavioural changes to meet the same goals, are key to creating energy-positive buildings.

Research suggests that Mondays are the perfect moment to encourage the first steps towards a zero-carbon future.

Study Johns Hopkins on Meatless Mondays
A study by Johns Hopkins, for instance, points out that the concept of ‘Meatless Mondays’ are best designed to start at the beginning of the week when people are more open to healthy behaviours.
“Monday offers an opportunity to “reset” and get back on track after any lapses over the weekend and studies show people that get back on track at the beginning of the week are better able to maintain progress over time. Meatless Monday in organisations or whole communities can foster solidarity and a shared commitment to reducing meat consumption.” Meatless Mondays also address worldwide problems such as chronic preventable diseases, overuse of precious land and water resources, and the acceleration of climate change, which threatens our planet’s future.

Make sustainability an everyday topic
Meatless Mondays and offering everyday vegetarian and vegan menu options in the company cafeteria are great and easy ways to reduce your businesses carbon footprint and making sustainability an everyday element of your company policies and goals.

It gets even better when you can announce your planet-friendly menu options on your narrowcasting screen via hello energy’s solution.

Landmarks have a ‘fresh start effect’
But it’s not only a Monday that calls attention to much needed behavioural change. Other dates that mark important events can be just as effective in creating awareness on sustainability.

Across five studies, psychological scientists found that people are more motivated to pursue their goals on certain dates.

Dates stand out as more meaningful
The study says that people tend to attribute negative traits and failures to their past selves while maintaining a positive image of their current selves. Dates that stand out as being more meaningful—such as the start of a new week or financial quarter, a birthday, or a holiday— signal the start of a new, distinct time period. Essentially, people are more empowered and motivated to pursue their goals when they feel like their past failures are behind them and their future success is ahead of them — a phenomenon the researchers dub “the fresh start effect.”

Did you know that…
hello energy is a SaaS solution that engages real estate owners to create energy-positive buildings. You can get insights on your daily sustainability score and benchmark your company’s energy usage to other similar companies. Our solution allows you to create playlists with an announce board via your narrowcasting screens, engaging your visitors or employees in seeing and contributing to your daily sustainability progress. Find out more here.

 

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