An exciting new era is upon us, one driven by data and increased control over building performance. We have programmable thermostats that allow us to set our home’s temperature when we’re at work or out of town. We have smart light bulbs that can automatically adjust brightness based on the time of day. We even have smart refrigerators that allow us to see the contents of our fridge from our phones when we’re at the store.
The best smart buildings use data to help measure and improve their performance. Over the last two decades, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) have been collecting more green building data than any other organization. As a result of tools like LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and other green building rating systems, building managers and operators have a flexible framework for identifying practical, measurable, and sensible green building strategies. With more than 91,000 LEED-certified residential and commercial projects across 167 countries and territories using LEED, the green building sector represents an enormous opportunity for positive change.
That’s why USGBC and GBCI have introduced Arc, a state-of-the-art digital platform that allows buildings and spaces to benchmark, measure and improve sustainability performance. From buildings to portfolios to cities, users can compare performance against regional and global averages.
Arc tracks data across five categories – Waste, Water, Energy, Transportation and Human Experience – and delivers a performance score out of 100 that helps drive continuous improvement and provides a holistic picture of a building’s impact. For example, building owners can enter the results of a waste audit into Arc, and see how much waste the project has generated and diverted from landfills and incineration facilities over time. They can use Arc’s survey to log their employees’ commuting habits. They can see exactly how much water their building uses for irrigation, heating and cooling, in restrooms and kitchen areas, and other fixtures, and they can record energy usage in order to hit key energy efficiency and carbon reduction goals.
The Arc platform connects all sustainability actions in one place, encouraging teams to make more informed decisions using data. Projects do not need to be LEED-certified or pursuing a green certification to use Arc, but Arc can help buildings understand where they’re starting from and how they can move closer to certification through incremental improvements.
Arc goes beyond buildings, though—it is a performance solution for communities and cities, too. A new certification program called LEED for Cities is available through the Arc platform. The idea behind LEED for Cities is to revolutionize the way cities are planned, developed and operated; this has the potential to improve the quality of life of citizens around the world by measuring performance and capturing metrics across Arc’s performance indicators.
It’s more important than ever for local communities to take the lead on sustainability efforts. LEED for Cities is the ideal framework to promote smart cities on a global scale as it provides all citizens and their leaders with a detailed view of citywide performance. Again, metrics and transparency are key.
In Colorado, local municipalities are becoming global leaders by pursuing policies to meet the ever-growing threat of climate change. Denver has already implemented a benchmarking ordinance for large buildings, and cities and towns across Colorado are committing to renewable energy standards under the Paris Climate Agreement, independent of Federal support. Arc allows building owners to take that next step, proving that these efforts are paying off economically, socially, and environmentally.
Arc represents a new way forward for smart green building—one that focuses on the interconnections between sustainability, mobility, technology and data. With its aggressive sustainability goals and supportive leaders, Colorado is the ideal place for a culture of data-driven green buildings and green communities to take hold.