People Power in Green Buildings: A new public insight into daily energy monitoring

An Australian-made demonstration of how to cut commercial buildings’ energy use by providing building managers with timely energy performance information is now live on the web.

Pulse, a new digital tool, hosted by Green Buildings Alive updates in near real-time, providing insight into real Australian office buildings in unprecedented detail.

Australian energy prices have soared in recent years, up to 83% over five years to 2013 in Sydney CBD. [i]To meet our stated greenhouse emission reduction targets Australia needs to cut 80% of greenhouse gases by 2050[ii], and a significant proportion is expected to come from the built environment.

While a few landmark ‘green’ developments are built each year, there are thousands of office towers which urgently need to go greener by cutting power use.

“City office workers probably don’t often think about the people running the building, but these guys are key to cutting energy use,” said Craig Roussac, Director of the Investa Sustainability Institute.

Building managers may miss the opportunity for energy savings in existing systems because there is little visibility in the system’s technical performance. Green Buildings Alive merges data science, visualisations and building management techniques in one tool. Updating every 24 hours, simple, timely and actionable building energy data is provided to building operators allowing them to see the effects of adjustments they make.

This new feature will be of great value to engineers, building landlords and experts striving for low-carbon cities worldwide. It highlights the ‘ghost in the machine’: the real people who continually optimise each building’s systems to deliver real, measurable improvements for a more sustainable future.

“The energy bills for Sydney’s largest buildings are over $1,000,000 per year, so opportunities for large financial returns can be achieved by improving the effectiveness of building management” says Roussac.

“What we are doing here might look simple, but the practice draws from nearly a decade of measuring and monitoring what really makes a building greener. We’ve learnt that sustainability in our sector doesn’t have to mean a fancy façade or expensive technology.”

“Real, measurable energy savings are the bedrock of the radical changes on the horizon for cites worldwide,” says Roussac.  “Big buildings are with us for thirty to a hundred years, and we should be fine tuning them every single day. Whether you are motivated by higher electricity prices, carbon taxes, or property investment returns, everyone needs to get their electricity demand under control.”

See more:


[i]Dunstan, C. & Langham, E. 2010, Close to Home: Potential Benefits of Decentralised Energy for NSW Electricity Consumers, Institute for Sustainable Futures


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