Builders are increasingly looking for ways to make buildings more energy and resource efficient, and new breakthroughs in decision-making are coming from the use of big data, says Avery Phillips, a writer for the news outlet InsideBIGDATA.
In addition to installing solar panels, energy efficient appliances, and smart climate control systems, builders can now use sophisticated data analytics about usage to make buildings and homes more eco-friendly, while reducing costs. Where before data comparisons were considered over an annual or monthly time span, now they can be analyzed from day to day and even hour to hour.
Some of the ways big data is being used include:
- Using smart meters to detect leaks if there’s an aberration in water usage.
- Automated thermostats that make one part of a building cooler when the sun shines through the windows, while keeping other parts warm.
- Humidity and oxygen levels that are monitored and adjusted to be kept at optimal levels, and more.
Builders Sharing Data Across Categories
Scott Horst, the CEO of arc, a nonprofit joint venture between the U.S. Green Building Council and Green Business Certification, Inc., says, “The future of green building is not rating systems. Data is the greatest truth-teller.”
The joint venture is establishing a system that can be applied to both LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certified buildings as well as to not-yet-green-certified buildings to measure levels of eco-friendliness.
The goal is to encourage builders to share data and set benchmarks, so efficiencies can occur across a variety of categories within building and design. To date, 128 cities, every U.S. state, and the District of Columbia have made building data available to the public. Access to more data will make green building business practices more accessible, from small projects to large.
Beyond Buildings to Infrastructure
The data sharing is extending beyond buildings and homes to major infrastructure projects. One such improvement is with bridgets. Builders are now employing more sustainable building practices, such as installing solar-powered lights and traffic controls, adding vegetation, and including bike and pedestrian paths. This is a result of builders getting access to data on how projects are done in other cities.
Using Big Data for Location Decisions
In addition to sharing data on how to build, developers are also utilizing it to decide where to build. Big data provides quantitative insights, such as how to makes cities more friendly for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as how public transportation should be routed and where the stops should be.
In addition, data analytics can guide decision making on how close affordable, multi-family housing should be to downtown for jobs, while helping workers avoid long commutes.
Data on how climate change will impact geographical areas will play an increasingly important role in where developers decide to build as well. For example, coastal developments will have to take into account risk factors of flooding and storms, while other areas may have to consider the impact of rising temperatures.
Data sharing among builders and municipalities is already providing advantages, with more estimated to come as builders adapt to changing times.
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