Plugging into Multifamily - The Official Blog of AUM

Multi-Housing News - Making Your Mark

Posted by Alison Hoss on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 03:47 PM

Multi-Housing News (MHN) recently reached out to AUM's Dimitri Kapsis for insight regarding benchmarking in our industry. 

Below you will find the article where Kaspis speaks on behalf of AUM and sheds a light onto AUM's experience with benchmarking in multifamily.

 

Making Your Mark

By Joshua Ayers, Senior Editor - Published November, 10 2014

Most operational tasks at multifamily communities strive to maximize efficiency in order to increase the bottom line. The web-based revolution in the past 10 to 15 years has helped these businesses to streamline their operations and as that technology evolves, companies are taking a closer look at, and improving, the ways they are spending money on property utilities through benchmarking.

So what is benchmarking? Putting it simply, benchmarking is the process of taking an entity’s specific set of metrics and measuring or comparing those metrics to the metrics of another entity or the average of metrics of other similar entities. In multifamily—and commercial and industrial buildings as well—an example would be taking the total use of electricity at one building and comparing that usage against other similar buildings, or the average usage of multiple buildings that are similar in stature.

While this might sound relatively simple, there are several factors that make utility benchmarking at multifamily communities and buildings more difficult than their commercial and industrial counterparts, including sub-metering, resident privacy and the willingness of utility companies to cooperate with requests for accurate data. Having the right tools, finding the right benchmarking vendor and being aware of local, state and federal benchmarking efforts can all help companies to build a benchmarking strategy that will help reduce utility costs and increase NOI.

A few vendors and tools

In order to effectively benchmark utilities, a company needs nothing more than a method of collecting, analyzing and storing the data, as well as a way to determine how other similar multifamily properties are consuming in order to track results. An initial gut response might include opening up Microsoft Excel or signing into Google Drive, but, unfortunately, the labor costs for tedious manual data entry for benchmarking would likely outweigh any savings that could be had, and there would be no guarantee that the data could be appropriately analyzed.

“This can be done in spreadsheets, but it is time consuming and tedious, and the analysis required to do it accurately is not as simple as adding up utility bills,” says benchmarking guru Jonathan Braman, vice president of the New York-based benchmarking company BrightPower. “For example, in climates with a lot of heating or cooling needs, building energy consumption varies a lot based on how hot the summer [is] or cold the winter is. If I installed a new efficient boiler before last winter’s polar vortex, I still probably used more gas than the previous winter. I may have used less than I would have with the boiler—but utility bills alone won’t show that.”

BrightPower is just one of many benchmarking companies that have emerged in the multifamily industry. One tool that the company offers its clients is its EnergyScoreCards platform, which automatically fetches data from most large utilities, and then “provides weather-normalized benchmarks at the building, property and portfolio levels,” he notes.

Braman says that the use of EnergyScoreCards has helped long-term clients decrease utility spending since they started using the project, but he also notes that the benchmarking alone isn’t necessarily a cause for energy saving.

That combined with working with BrightPower analysts can help companies sort through the data. If consumption problems are evident, BrightPower engineers and procurement experts help clients work through the problem.

“Benchmarking only helps owners make better decisions and take action to save energy,” he says. “We think of benchmarking as a critical component of energy management, but it must be combined with smart operations and maintenance, behavioral changes, and in some cases, capital improvements, to save energy.”

Another major player in the benchmarking industry is American Utility Management (AUM) Inc., which has been providing energy management solutions to the multifamily industry since 1994.

AUM Chief Energy Officer Dimitris Kapsis says that the most important tool for benchmarking is good data.

“The most essential tools for benchmarking is the availability of the actual comparative data, its integrity and overall size of the comparative group,” he says.

AUM’s primary benchmarking tool, SCORE, utilizes data captured from a state-of-the-art data capture process that checks the data’s integrity, and then provides benchmarking that takes into account geographic region, property type and other property characteristics and their overall utility usage to rate a property’s energy efficiency again similar peer groups.

Kapsis stresses the importance of the data integrity checks, since manual data entry can be flawed, as can data that comes directly from the utility companies.

“It could be a situation where we have some data entry issues such as fat fingering, or we even have data issues coming from the utility, because unlike the popular consensus, utilities make mistakes and sometimes [they] make big mistakes,” he says.

Once the data is validated and entered into the system, AUM’s system monitors the data for anything that is out of trend, including utility usage.”

“It’s pretty straight forward. We put some variances in place up or down, and if they break through those barriers that we manually set into the system then the system notifies us,” he says. “We look into it as to if it’s a legit variance. If it is, we let it go through the system and the client receives a notification. From there, either themselves or with our help, we can work on fixing the issue.”

Kapsis referenced an AUM Energy Management client with a portfolio of more than 100 properties that was able to identify conservation opportunities through benchmarking efforts that led to $400,000 in annual savings with a ROI in just 13 months.

NWP, which offers benchmarking through its analytics portfolio, offers a product called ScoreCard, which allows clients to rank a property within a portfolio to see how it is doing against its peers.

ScoreCard also takes into account factors such as weather normalization, and benchmarks several utilities both individually and combined.

“You can look at gas, electric and then a combined gas and electric,” says Chris Dorando, product manager for NWP’s Utility Smart product line. “So for instance, if you’re a property that has electric heating and you want to know how that property is performing against other properties in the area that have gas heating, we normalize that so that you can actually make a comparison.”

NWP also works with clients that use the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which anonymously tracks whole-building energy and water consumption data that can be used for benchmarking.

All three energy management and consulting companies, BrightPower, AUM and NWP, are service and product provider (SSP) partners through the Energy Star Portfolio Manager program. According to Energy Star, SSP partners “have demonstrated their expertise and achievements by meeting strict Energy Star program requirements for benchmarking customer buildings using Portfolio Manager and gaining Energy Star certification for buildings.”

Challenges and the future

Utility benchmarking has been around since the 1990s, but was primarily restricted to more commercial buildings, where whole-building consumption data is easier to acquire and track.

Even though an assortment of industry suppliers have assisted EPA in creating and improving the Portfolio Manager, whole-building data remains one of the biggest challenges for multifamily due to property complexity and the various types of metering structures set up at those properties.

“The main difference between the rest of the industry and multifamily, especially when we’re talking about commercial or retail, is that each individual unit-—an individual unit could be a retail shop or an entire office building—tends to have central metering for electric, gas and water. So, when we capture the data, we know what the entire unit is using on a per-month, quarterly and annual basis.”

This type of cumulative data makes a platform like Portfolio Manager easy to use and compare to other similar properties by type and region.

With multifamily, however, properties can range from garden-style, to high-rise buildings and beyond, with each of those different types of buildings. Utilities across the spectrum can be measured across the entire property, such as water, which tends to be measured by whole-building, combined with utilities such as gas and electric, that are measured in either entire building or individual apartments or somewhere in between.

“To be able to compare apples to apples for a particular property, it’s not just location and type of property, it’s also what type of metering they have in place. And, not just for one type of utility, it could have a diversity of metering types depending on what utility you’re looking at … that was the difficulty that the EPA had up until recently and they still do.”

Currently, whole building data can only be acquired from utilities that have willingly agreed to provide the information in good faith or that have been mandated by
cities to provide the information, with the first option being subject to a variety of
data discrepancies.

“Benchmarking laws in several cities have also helped owners and vendors to improve the process and greatly expand the number of properties benchmarking,” BrightPower’s Braman says.

Kapsis, who notes that owners are gravitating toward individual metering for gas and electric as residents demand more control over factors like individual unit climate settings and knowing their own utility usage, is in agreement that the availability of whole-building data will help with benchmarking.

“As a result of those mandates, we will be able to capture whole-building data,” he says.

Dorando believes that the mandate trend is not going to fade away anytime soon.

“As those urban areas like Seattle and New York and Washington D.C. [and] Chicago start to roll out, I think you’ll start to see a lot more of that happen across the country,” he says. “Other communities will start to follow that. It’s something that’s going to be happening, and it’s something that we help our clients with. It’s pretty cutting edge at this time. I think it’s going to be a valuable tool for the property owners because they’ll be able to really improve their properties.”

As this whole-building data becomes more accessible to vendors and their clients, more research and evidence on the effectiveness of benchmarking will become available to owners and operators.

“People used to say, rightly at the time, that there were no good databases of multifamily energy and water use data, so no one knew what was good or bad,” Braman says. “Now we know.”


Tags: Energy management, Multifamily, Utilities, Submetering, ENERGY STAR, Benchmarking, Data analysis, Data capture

Utilities are Installing Smart Meters; But Who Owns the Data?

Posted by Alison Hoss on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 @ 11:16 AM

 

Over the past few months, we’ve all been inundated with reports on the new Apple iPhone 6 release and all of the new features it has to offer.  It got me to think about all the data that travels through the air, across phone lines and over the internet; and about all the new devices that are being used to gather and send all the data.   The Internet of Everything (IoE) phenomenon, which is the next big wave of how people and things connect to the internet, is growing exponentially.  IoE applications (often Machine-2-Machine applications) include: smart meters, video surveillance, smart cars, package tracking chips, chipped pets and livestock, and digital health monitors.  Today, there are over 2.9 Billion M2M connections and they are projected to grow to 7.3B by 2018. 

But what about the business aspect of all these new devices and resulting data: 

1)    Who Owns the Data? 

2)    Who has Rights to transform the data into valued information?

In the utility world, these are hot topics.  Recently in Chicago, ComEd installed 425,000 smart meters as part of its $2.6B grid-modernization project; that number of smart meters is planned to grow to over 4 million meters.  The list of companies wanting access to the data is almost as long as the number of meters themselves, but no data is flowing.  No one is able to see the benefits of energy efficiency as a result of the new energy information gathered via the smart meters.  Why?  Because regulators are still determining who owns the data (the utility or the customer) and how data is to be released in order to comply with privacy laws.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has established  the “Green Button” as the standard for smart meter data access by customers.  Green Button is a good start.  However, the local utility is the only one who presents the energy data to the customer and only in the format or manner that the utility chooses.  In order to enable the markets to develop products and services around smart meter data, rules must be established to enable easier access to the data for enterprising business as well as property managers like you.

At AUM, we are fortunate to gather all of the utility data from your invoices as a part of our invoice processing service.  On the AUM Advanced Analytics Platform, clients get instant access to their information via a myriad of on-line reports, a first-glance Performance Dashboard with data drill-down capabilities, and other self-serve Ad Hoc Reporting Tools.  

But the next generation of data coming from smart meters has yet to be made easily available to customers and energy solution providers.  AUM’s question to you is:  How should AUM advocate on your behalf to ensure the data is most accessible to you?  What is the best solution to gather your residents’ utility data?  Do you want to access your residents’ usage data in order to help them become more efficient (and enable your properties to become more energy efficient)?

 

Tags: Energy procurement, Multifamily, Utilities, Submetering, utility expense recovery, Energy Efficiency, Data analysis, Data collection, Data capture, energy expenses, analytics

Turning Multifamily Energy Expense Data Into Actionable Information

Posted by James Kenneally on Tue, Aug 05, 2014 @ 03:15 PM

“You lose with potential.  You win with PERFORMANCE.” 

- - -  Bill Parcels, Hall of Fame Football Coach

Yes, it’s almost football season, but this truism applies not only to sports, but also to business.  Our season is every day of the year. We all strive for peak performance; yet without a great way to measure our progress, our efforts are meaningless. The all-telling statistic that measures success in business is the income statement, and the difference between wins and losses is Net Operating Income, or NOI. 

In Multifamily, a key component of improving NOI for property owners is the ability to manage energy expense and usage.  The ability to transform energy expense data into information means the difference between profit and loss. 

AUM Performance Dashboards reduce millions of data points into simple, visual information that allows Multifamily property owners to make critical energy expense decisions quickly.  The Dashboards enable owners to view their performance at a single glance for their entire portfolio or an individual property.  With just one click on a performance gauge, owners see actionable opportunities for improved performance. 

Some key features of this new tool:

  • Critical Key Performance Indicators (KPI) on a single screen.

  • Easy to read gauges for quick visual analysis

  • Interactive gauges for simple drill down to more detail in chart or table format.

  • Each new view opens in a separate tab for fast & easy switches, comparisons, analyses, & root causes.

  • Ability to be used anywhere you have an internet connection – including your mobile devices.

So, whether you’re managing energy usage, utility expenses, vacant cost recovery, resident billing, invoicing or late fees, AUM’s Performance Dashboards on our Advanced Analytics platform provides all the energy and utility knowledge you need to support your decisions and help you maximize your NOI, and be a winner. . .even by Bill Parcell’s standards.

Tags: Energy management, Multifamily, Property owners, Energy Efficiency, Data analysis, energy expenses, analytics, Business Intelligence, Big Data, Dashboards, management, Bill Parcells

Finding $575,000 on Just Three Properties: Why You Need a Multifamily Energy Management Expert

Posted by Michael Miller on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 @ 02:20 PM


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I have written numerous times in this blog about the need for focus and knowledge in multifamily utility and energy management. On many occasions, this has centered on the collection and interpretation of data for increasing your Net Operating Income (NOI).

NOI is the residual that is left after you take the operating income (rents, laundry money, fees) and subtract out the operating expenses (taxes, insurance, maintenance, management, etc.).

 

There are only two ways to increase the NOI:

  1. Raise the overall income by raising rents, fees, etc.
  2. Lower expenses


Our clients expect us to lower their energy expenses to increase NOI. We do that through three different disciplines: allocating the proper expense to the residents that are using energy and utilities (AUM Resident Services), accounting and paying that expense appropriately and timely (AUM Invoice Processing Services), and monitoring the rate and usage (AUM Energy Management Services).

Managing multifamily energy and utility expenses is complicated. Each of the 50 states in the US treat multifamily differently, including whether the rates are regulated or deregulated. Tax treatments alone for multifamily are considerably cumbersome.

Can your operations capture the maximum NOI by understanding and applying all of the particular state nuances around energy and utilities?  AUM can, and we have.

AUM was commissioned by one of our clients to conduct analysis on rates and tax treatments for just three of their Texas properties. Multifamily in Texas is considered mixed use, and utilities cannot charge sales tax for residential energy and utility usage (Here is the tax code for your reference). Additionally, rates are deregulated for electricity and natural gas in the state (Here is a complete list of state deregulation for you too).

We conducted a detailed review and analysis of all of the utility accounts for tax exemption eligibility and historical utility costs and consumption. The results of the review on just three properties were unbelievable:

    •  $185,000 in tax refunds/credits
    • $46,000 in future annual tax savings
    • $332,000 in annual commodity savings through more advantageous rates
That's a total overall savings for just three properties of over $575,000!

There are many companies that tout expertise. At AUM, our expertise is in creating increased value for our partners every day. We welcome the opportunity to increase the value of your properties. If you want to learn how, drop me a line, we’d be happy to talk.

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy consumption, Utilities, Utility bills, Case study, Legislation, Data analysis

Emmy Winner Tom Brokaw of NBC News Headlines Day One of NAA in Boston!

Posted by James Kenneally on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 @ 02:52 PM

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Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent to NBC News and one of the most trusted and respected figures in broadcast journalism, gave a thought-provoking narrative and insights from more than 40 years of firsthand experiences talking to everyone from world leaders to average citizens in the midst of life-changing events.

Key to his talk was the Country's treatment of Military as our fighting men and women come back to the US after a Tour of Duty.  As they return, we as a Country need to improve out integration of military back into modern society.  At every airport in the United Sates, we should be greeting, hugging, and helping to re-acclimate our brothers and sisters back into society and the workplace.

US Armed Forces make up 1% of the overall US population, yet they have the highest suicide rates, divorce rates, and unemployment rates as a single population group.  He has started a Foundation to help put a dent into these problems.

American Utility Management would also like to congratulate and Acknowledge 2012 NAA Hall of Fame Inductees Tom Shuler, CAPS, of Berkshire Property Advisors and Jerry Warshaw, CAPS, CPM, of Warshaw Properties, Inc.  Congratulations Gentlemen!!!

Tags: Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy consumption, Multifamily, Utilities, Utility bills, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Resident Billing, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Energy Efficiency, EPA Portfolio Manager, Benchmarking, Data analysis, Business Intelligence, NAA, Press coverage, NAA Education Conference & Exposition, Press releases

Roger Dow Leads Spirited First Session at NAA in Boston!

Posted by Dave Carpenter on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 @ 02:51 PM

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What an inspiring first session at the National Apartment Association Education Conference and Expo in Boston (@NAAEduConf)!  Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Travel Association, and former Marriott executive, gave an uplifting pep talk to a packed room!

Roger's talk centered around empowering people to make the difference in any organization.  Using companies like Harley-Davidson as an example of creating enthusiasm within an organization, he talked about ensuring that every employee believes they make a difference.  did you know that Harley-Davidson actually encourages their employees to get Harley-Davidson Tattoos!?!?  I'm thinking of giving employee incentives for the most creative AUM multifamily energy efficiency tattoos.  Perhaps one of our valued colleagues will even get the AUM Score energy efficiency benchmarking logo tattooed!


So what creates an enthusiastic company?  Roger spoke of four basic tenants:

    • Quality
    • Trust
    • Value
    • Relationships - with vendors, suppliers, and customers

At AUM, we aim to be THE Energy Management partner to the multifamily industry.  As we continue to to provide the tools to make multifamily energy management easier, faster, and most importantly, more effective for property owners, we hope that you find our products, AND OUR PEOPLE, provide the Quality, Value, and Trust that you seek in an energy and utility management partner!

Stop by booth 761 here at NAA and check out our new AUM Advanced Analytics tool, the most comprhenive energy expense reporting tool in multifamily!

If you can't stop by, follow us on Twitter (@AUM_Chicago) for the latest on multifamily energy management!

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Energy management, Multifamily, Bill Processing, Resident Billing, Energy services, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Benchmarking, AUMScore, Data analysis, Data collection, Data capture, Business Intelligence, NAA, Press coverage, NAA Education Conference & Exposition

We're blogging LIVE at National Apartment Association Expo in Boston!

Posted by Dave Carpenter on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 02:53 PM

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Welcome to our LIVE blog site during the NAA Education and Expo in Boston!  You can follow us on Twitter (@AUM_Chicago) and follow the show (@NAAEduConf)!

If you are at the Conference, be sure to visit the AUM Green Monster in Booth 761!  So if you can't make it to Fenway Park for a baseball experience you can come to us for a multifamily baseball experience, complete with beer and peanuts!

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At AUM, we announced the release of our new AUM Advanced Analytics tool, to be unveiled at the NAA show.  AUM has harnessed the power of big data for faster, customized multifamily energy management decision-making.  As the premier energy management partner to multifamily, we look forward to bringing the industry tools and services that continue to help multifamily property owners increase their Net Operating Income (NOI)! You can read the press release here.

I look forward to keeping you updated over the next three days.  Refresh often!

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy consumption, Conservation, Energy budgeting, Utilities, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Energy services, Energy Efficiency, Data analysis, Data collection, Business Intelligence, NAA, NAA Education Conference & Exposition, Press releases

BUSINESS ANALYTICS – BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE TECHNOLOGY APPLIED TO YOUR BUSINESS

Posted by Bob Malpasuto on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 @ 02:54 PM

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In my last Blog, Big Data to Information – The Art of Business Intelligence, I discussed a common definition of Business Intelligence and the three layers that make up a comprehensive Business Intelligence Platform:  The Data Layer, the Analysis Layer, and the Presentation layer.  After the explanation of these layers, we focused on the Data Layer . . . the accumulation and storage of the data collected for a business.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the Analysis Layer of the BI Platform.  Many in the BI space have dubbed this layer with a relatively new term – Business Analytics.  BA is an advanced discipline within BI, where the data is analyzed and reports and/or dashboards are designed to guide the user to real actionable items, specifically for their business.

I learned long ago that reports have little meaning if they don't produce actionable results.  How do you combine all of your disparate databases into a single reporting engine?  In multifamily, many Property Management Systems attempt to tie together occupancy, rent information and financial data into one system.  And while these systems do an admirable job of collecting and stratifying the data (yes- the DATA LAYER), they cannot analyze the data – ergo turn it into ACTIONABLE INFORMATION for disparate departments.  Property managers want to see occupancy.  Energy Managers in a Property Owner’s corporate office want to review energy and utility usage, and the financial departments want occupancy, rent, and energy expenses quantified and bucketed into General Ledger codes to explain the whole financial picture.  In order to go to the next level and realize the true power of BI, you need to include BA capabilities into your system.

Now, there is no magic BA button that Multifamily Property Owners can push that will automatically generate these action items and guide you to greater prosperity. It's a complex system that requires three essential elements:

  1.  An information system that contains a technological element used to collect, store, and deliver information (BI);
  2. Human competencies: someone must be able to retrieve data and deliver it as information in a front-end system, and analysts must know how to generate knowledge targeted toward specific decision-making processes; and
  3. The information system must contain specific business processes that make use of the information or the new knowledge to guide the user to intuitively ask for the information the way they need it and present simply so the particular user can take action based on his/her needs.

BA is delivering the right decision support to the right people at the right time.

AUM has a large number of Multifamily Energy and Utility Management experts. They are responsible for analyzing Multifamily energy expense data and creating reports and dashboards designed to assist you, our valued client.  YOU can take action to make your properties more energy efficient, reduce expenses, and improve your bottom line.

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Energy management, Multifamily, Utilities, Utility bills, Sustainability and Benchmarking, AUMScore, Data analysis, Data collection, Data capture, Business Intelligence, NAA

BIG DATA TO INFORMATION - THE ART OF BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE

Posted by Bob Malpasuto on Fri, Jun 08, 2012 @ 02:55 PM

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In my last blog article, USING BIG DATA TECHNOLOGY IN MULTIFAMILY TO SAVE ON ENERGY AND UTILITY EXPENSES, I talked at length about the enormous amounts of data that AUM collects on behalf of its multifamily property owners to manage their energy spend.  We collect 75 data points of each and every energy and utility invoice that we process on our clients’ behalf.  Processing over 55,000 invoices, that means we collect over 4 million specific energy and utility data points a month for our clients.

Now that’s a lot of energy and utility invoice data.  But data in and of itself is wasted space.  The key to any business success, and for our purposes, effective multifamily energy management, is the ability to turn that data into knowledge to support informed decision making.  That, my friends, is the art of Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence requires expertise to identify, store, extract, and analyze business data and then present the data in a simple, clean format to allow for quick business decisions.  Many organizations, (depending on the size of their datasets) rely on their own-developed business intelligence tools or a software solution custom-made for their particular needs.

HOW BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE WORKS

Business Intelligence tools are used to identify and extract electronic data from multiple databases where it's consolidated for reporting purposes. In multifamily, that might include the database from the on-site system, the financial system, Human Resources (HRIS), various vendor data, etc.

The data extracted from these systems is then typically stored in data warehouses or data marts where the BI tool is able to use that consolidated data for reporting purposes.  The ability to combine the data for reporting purposes is what gives the BI tool significant value.  You no longer need to create separate reports, typically in Excel, and then manually combine them taking hours, days, or even weeks to do so.  A good BI tool will provide you with the ability to not only replicate your existing reports and consolidate data, but will also provide you with a means of slicing and dicing the data in ways that you could never do before (analyzing), which in theory will lead to more informed business decisions.

 

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE TECHNOLOGIES

To implement Business Intelligence in any organization, the technologies required typically run across three layers of presenting the data for decision-making:

    • The Data Layer – this is where organizations store their data;
    • The Analytics Layer – This is where data is processed to support the analysis required to achieve knowledge and insight;
    • The Presentation Layer – This layer present the processed data in a relevant way to the users in an organization.  This layer can be in the form of dashboards, scorecards, or Reports that have been betted by the organization to be useful to the operations or profits of an organization.

If you are a customer of AUM, or a frequent visitor to this blog, you have seen the Presentation Layer of Business Intelligence in the form of AUMScore, the energy efficiency benchmarking tool we developed specifically to multifamily.  This benchmarking dashboard takes complex data from property characteristics and utility invoices for multiple properties of any owner and turns it into a simple red, yellow, and green dashboard for a property owner to determine quickly which properties should be reviewed more thoroughly.

 

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 Soon AUM will be introducing the next level of Business Intelligence tools for Multifamily that will allow our Clients to analyze their utility usage and expenses in ways that produce better, informed decisions. Clients will be able to view the data in reports and in dashboards, drill down into the data, and create custom reports that fit their particular needs.  This tool is being developed in partnership with our clients, and we will continue to seek opinions to ensure that the data we collect on their behalf creates quick, useful, informed decision-making.  THAT is business intelligence!

 

Tags: Energy cost, Energy management, Energy budgeting, Multifamily, Utilities, Utility bills, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Utility bill payment, Energy Efficiency, Benchmarking, AUMScore, Data analysis

Using Big Data Technology in Multifamily to Save on Energy and Utility Expenses

Posted by Bob Malpasuto on Mon, Jun 04, 2012 @ 02:56 PM

In today’s business environment, an immense amount of information and data is being created and stored creating large databases of information. This concept, called Big Data, has emerged in many of today’s industries.

The concept of Big Data is to create a high velocity and high efficiency way of capturing, storing and analyzing high volume of data that many businesses today handle. Terabytes upon terabytes of data generated each day will overload the conventional software systems that are used to store, manage and analyze the data. Since the amount of data is too large and is moving too fast for the processing capacity of today’s technology, companies are looking towards big data technologies to produce information that can be acted upon real-time.

Big Data can be structured or unstructured and come in different data forms such as audio, video or text files. Big data technologies first must have the space to store the extreme amounts of data. Then they must “link” the data so that it is relevant to the user and easy to work with. This requires the technology to sort and reference each data point which is sent in for processing. This way of processing the high amounts of data can be applied to many different fields in business to find trends and increase efficiency. In the retail industry, Wal-Mart collects data from its millions of retail sales. These data points are then put into databases, which are estimated to be about 2,500 terabytes. Big Data technology takes the data from these sales and puts it into a format for Wal-Mart employees to be used to monitor specific customer trends then inquire how to market items more efficiently using the data gathered.

Big Data technologies can separate businesses in terms of how well they know their customers and the data being generated. At AUM, we use data collected off of every energy and utility invoice so property owners can be well-informed of their expense and usage. Just one invoice contains approximately 75 firm and derived data points, such as usage, expense, and daily effective rates, that should be used to manage multifamily energy spend, be it financially or operationally.

If each property received 40 bills a month, that’s 3,000 separate pieces of data. Over 50 properties there are 150,000 data points for the month. Annually that is 1.8 MILLION DATA POINTS for a multifamily owner of 50 properties.

Big data technology can be made simple for property owners, allowing them to interact with their data and understand its meaning. Understanding utility usage and expense each month is crucial for property owners, as well as their residents, and knowing this information can help owners manage their utilities more efficiently. For a company like AUM, our ability to share real-time data and information with clients saves them money, and allows them to focus on filling their properties with residents.

Be sure to stay posted to this blog as we apply our own “Big Data” initiatives to multifamily and share our experiences with you.

Tags: Energy cost, Energy management, Energy budgeting, Utilities, Utility bills, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Utility bill payment, Data analysis, Data collection, Data capture, Big Data