How Data is Changing the Way We Design

We are constantly surrounded by information and data, but not many of us, especially in the commercial real estate industry know how to make use of all the data out there. Especially because there is a ton of data that we’re failing to collect right within our own properties.

New technological advances are making it easier to collect data in real time, more and more companies are building and  incorporating “sensors” to their properties in order to gain an in-depth analysis of how their properties and it’s tenants function on a day-to-day basis. In order to find small tweaks for improvement, not only in the functionality of the properties, but in order to “contribute to better health, wellness, comfort, energy performance” of its tenants.

Panelists at the most recent HIVE convention discussed the possibilities and benefits that come with incorporating sensors and cloud based technology within CRE properties, specifically multi-family and hotel properties. 

All data that is collected could then be used to better inform developers when developing and designing properties. Collecting data is an ongoing processes, allowing the ability to see what does and doesn’t work, but the idea behind this is that observation of live and ongoing data collection could allow property owners the ability to provide better living or working environments in addition to cutting down on costs and being more energy efficient.  

Founder and CEO of, Serena Almonen helps others track real-time data to help develop trend information about the consumption of energy within their organization.’s data shows that organizations that use “sensor” tech are consistently saving 25% in energy consumption. Savings in energy come in the form of small tweaks in the everyday operations within these companies. For example an organization in D.C. found that they were spending over $2,000 a month in energy bills; data collected with sensors found that the organization was wasting energy during the weekends and two hours extra every morning during the week when no one was physically in the building. By simply changing their schedule they were able to save 20% in the winter and another 30% during the summer.

Other experts within the industry are taking on a different approach that not only collects data on the consumption of energy but also data and information on “the relationship between health and the indoor environment,” for those who find themselves working and living in these properties. On average we spend 21 hours a day indoors, the environment that we work in and live in can greatly affect our health and wellness. So collecting data on this aspect can help developers and designers further improve living and working conditions within these properties. Some examples of this include; measuring and collecting data on indoor air quality, temperature, humidity, CO2, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.

Data collected by KieranTimberlake’s app called Roast found that most of their staff members were much more comfortable working in conditions of 80 degrees. So instead of playing with temperatures they were able to look at the information submitted by their staff and compile a report of how each member felt under certain conditions according to where they were located within the build, allowing KieranTimerlake to save money and energy. The app also allows KieranTimberlake and its users the ability to collect real time data about “indoor living aspects such as thermal comfort, air freshness, ambient light, and noise.”

Sensor are a must in order to be more efficient and aware of a property and its functionality. Almomen believes that making sensors homogenous with standard interfaces like 4-20mA, 0-5V, Pulse, BACnet, or Modbus, will allow for easy data collection and the ability to implement new strategies for energy efficiency and overall wellness of a property and its tenants.

To learn more about sensors the technology that is shaping the way we design and develop commercial properties check out MFE’s article, “Tapping Data for Better Living and Cost Savings.”