ESG net-zero promises won’t happen without democratizing data

By Marley Fabisiewicz, co-Founder and co-CEO, spaceOS

More and more organizations are signing up to net-zero ESG commitments. But stepping beyond statements of intent, to actual CO2 reductions, is going to be a whole lot easier if everybody is on board and pulling their weight.

ESG net-zero promises

Unfortunately, not everyone is yet. Even when they agree with the need for change, it’s hard to keep people engaged over a sustained period of time.

What’s often missing is a feedback loop that shows the relevant data to employees in an easily digested format. Filling in that gap can motivate people to focus on energy saving measures and push for further progress.

The need for transparency

Getting this right is important. Most people want to do the right thing. Increasingly, they will only want to work for companies and in buildings that are aiming for net zero and can provide the real-time data to prove it.

Transparency is therefore vital. Net zero has to be underpinned by accurate measurements. Without them, any business or initiative can be accused of greenwashing, like the 40 companies named and shamed on Earth Day this year by Truth In Advertising.

When it comes to the way businesses use energy in buildings — the area spaceOS specializes in — things are heading in the right direction, with better ways of measuring carbon footprints emerging all the time.

There is a lot of real-time data potentially available for “operational carbon” (the amount of CO2 a building releases in daily use, as opposed to during construction, which is known as “embedded carbon”). Many larger buildings have a digital Building Management System (BMS), which controls and monitors mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems.

A BMS can deliver energy savings and operational carbon reductions. Aedifion, a company that provides analytics derived from BMS data, estimates that effective use of BMS data should make it possible to reduce carbon emissions by 40%.

But even with an effective BMS, the data is usually delivered to the owners or Facilities Management (FM) team and tends to stay there. Employees generally do not get to see it and have little engagement with the results. They are not being given the information or means to improve things even further.

Pushing for even greater savings

That’s a waste because it fails to tap into employees’ desire and energy for change. Without their cooperation change is less likely to happen. Workplace Experience Platforms (WEPs) are the obvious next step — bringing real-time energy consumption and carbon footprint data to tenants in commercial real estate buildings. Having such information allows tenants to track and understand their energy consumption, create their own reports and publicize the improvements being made, to attract increasingly environmentally-conscious employees.

spaceOS believes, for most corporate buildings, there’s much more that could be done to reduce carbon emissions. BMS data has the potential to guide more intelligent decisions about how to maximize efficiency. For example, sensors in the building can detect when rooms are occupied or not and modify environmental characteristics accordingly. The data generated can also be mined to establish long term patterns that make predictions possible.

However, without a WEP that hard work can be wasted. I have worked in highly energy-efficient buildings where people were sometimes unclear why things were different from conventional building management. It led to calls for more heating at certain times of the day, rather than adapting to the new situation. In my opinion this was because we were never presented with data showing how much energy was being saved and how that impacted the organization’s net-zero targets.

The power of feedback

Measurement is important but it has to help drive behavioral change. New engagement and feedback tools that leverage these underlying measurement tools are now helping people to visualize the impact of their actions and contributions towards the net-zero goal.

Most of us are now used to the power of digital feedback to change behavior using devices such as fitbit. Likewise, there are now numerous carbon footprint tracking tools that help us evaluate our personal carbon emissions. The WWF Footprint Tracker, for example, and the CoolClimate Calculator.

Credit and debit card companies are helping too. In 2019, Mastercard partnered with Swedish fintech Doconomy to launch the Åland Index that connects each purchase to its impact on the planet. Visa looks to be traveling in the same direction. In May it invested in sustainable finance provider ecolytiq, which provides banks and financial institutions with transactional data to communicate to their customers about CO2 spending data, offsetting, and sustainable investment advice.

Providing that sort of feedback loop to office workers via a WEP is the next frontier in ESG performance tracking, introducing dimensions of gamification to carbon reduction. It encourages building users to modify their behavior to reach a goal that they can watch in real time and which most of them agree is hugely important.

Allowing tenants and organizations to view and track their carbon footprints will also be crucial to attracting new talent in the future, as ESG-transparent and sustainable workplaces will become a must-have for employees.

It is this sort of engagement that is going to enable organizations to press on to the next level in their ESG commitments.

About Marley Fabisiewicz, co-founder and co-CEO, spaceOS

Marley Fabisiewicz is co-founder and co-CEO of property technology company spaceOS, a startup that offers an operating system for safe, flexible and human-centric workspaces.

Marley has more than 15 years’ experience developing and implementing successful digital strategies for technology companies, and has been an advisor and strategist for startups and large global organizations.

He is a serial entrepreneur and passionate digital product architect. Having started out as a music magazine editor and DJ, he founded Lodown Magazine in 1995 and became the European Marketing Manager for Vans Shoes.

Before founding spaceOS, Marley founded Upnext Technologies, a software and digital product development agency that has been on the forefront of fintech for over 10 years, designing and engineering successful tailor-made, end-to-end mobile money services.

About spaceOS

spaceOS is a PropTech startup founded in 2017 and headquartered in Dublin. Its smart, simple and intuitive workplace experience app turns smartphones into workplace remote controls and functions as an ‘operating system’ for buildings. As the meaning and purpose of offices undergo radical change, spaceOS makes flexible office spaces and hybrid working environments less carbon-intensive and more community-focused. It empowers owners, tenants and managers with data and insights to improve the efficiency of buildings and the employee experience of people working there.

spaceOS has raised €10 million to date from funds including Atmos Ventures, BeyondBuild, FF Ventures, Hitachi Ventures and IMMOFINANZ.

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