We expected to learn a lot, but we've never expected to run so fast and for things to take so long at the same time. - Welcome to the world of energy entrepreneurs!
This past 28th of October marked the seven-year anniversary of Fabriq (aka EnergyDeck, if you haven’t tuned in since April). It’s been a long time with many ups and downs, yet it still feels like we’re just getting started!
In the beginning, there was ... nothing!
When I left Google in late 2011, I set out on a mission to “democratise” building users’ access to practical energy performance benchmarks and savings advice. The key "market failure" I had spotted during my time at Google in my Green Business Operations role was that good data about building performance was hard to come by, and reliable benchmarks even harder. This made it near impossible to pinpoint underperforming sites, let alone fix them. In addition, trust in suppliers of energy efficiency solutions was traditionally low, and reliable impact assessments and savings business cases were not available. As a result, the sustainability industry at the time couldn’t have been further behind the levels of scalability that companies like Google exhibited in their core business.
None of the software solutions available in the market was able to do what I had in mind. So the answer was - you guessed it - to build a new platform from scratch that would solve all the world’s known energy efficiency problems, and create a sustainable business model at the same time. How hard could it be?!
Making something out of nothing is actually really hard. But if you succeed, it’s the best thing in the world! (And thanks Scott - you’re a god!)
Just look at what we've done!
Since the initial launch in March 2012, our platform has come a long way. Initially a simple charting tool with manual data inputs, it has evolved into a full-fledged real estate resource tracking and analytics platform, covering pretty much all aspects of building operations from energy to air quality and occupancy. The platform automatically captures data from almost any type of source and caters to a wide range of stakeholders and building users. Most importantly, Fabriq OS, as it is called today, is easy to work with for any operator and beautiful to look at across desktop and mobile versions. This matters - a lot!
At a product level, we’ve recently launched spacemaps (for “spatial heatmapping” - get it?! you’ve heard it here first!). These are interactive floorplans that can show almost any type of metric in a highly visual form that’s accessible to non-technical people, like the rest of us. We now also provide automatic outlier detection based on machine learning of patterns in historical high-frequency readings. This can be used to quickly filter very large amounts of e.g. consumption or environmental data for significant events and cost saving opportunities. It also enables more precise forecasting and predictive maintenance.
In short, our trusty Fabriq OS platform is really starting to live up to the “end-to-end” mantra, and we’re super proud of it! Full kudos go to our amazing team of contributors and long list of supporters over the years. At the same time, our work is never done and the wish-list for new features and capabilities is constantly evolving. Which is due in large part to our highly engaged customer base and the growing size of building portfolios and datasets we have access to (a warm welcome on board to our most recent additions Savills and University College London!). By working closely with our users, we continue to push the envelope of what is possible.
We define success as being able to to help our clients deliver significantly better outcomes than they could do without us. These range from cost efficiencies, reduced environmental impact, streamlined reporting and compliance to optimised asset utilisation and staff productivity. I'm happy to report that we’re seeing some very good results on this front -- cue more case studies coming soon.
To the tipping point - and beyond!
Have we saved the world yet? Far from it! Have we managed to connect all building users with a network of suppliers for validated improvement measures, as was our mission at the outset? Not really (sadly, the sector on the whole is not materially different compared to 2011 in this context).
However, I do feel that we're reaching a point where we're finally able to "connect the dots", so to say. After seven years of ongoing development, the platform is capable of doing things that customers didn't even know were possible. Furthermore, we're starting to see growing amounts of high-quality data from more granular metering and a new crop of smart sensors, which are becoming more affordable and easier to deploy.
Most importantly, a new type of awareness is forming in the industry - particularly at the top level of organisations - that a steady-state approach just won't cut it anymore. Not only that, but clients are increasingly looking at data from buildings in a more holistic way. On average, energy accounts for just 1% of building operating costs. So maybe it's no surprise that not too many people are too concerned about a 10-20% reduction opportunity in this line item (though that doesn't mean that the sector's 40% of global warming contribution is immaterial - we still need to cut energy consumption in buildings by 80% globally over the next 30 years!).
For any comments, questions, words of encouragement and spontaneous offers of support please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and be good!