Companies today have access to more data than ever before, but, unless they understand what it means, its value is limited. Sweden’s largest real estate company, Vasakronan, is using Idun ProptechOS built on top of Microsoft Azure to process and analyze the massive amounts of data generated by its commercial properties.
Vasakronan is Sweden’s largest real estate company with a portfolio compromising of close to 200 commercial properties, in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Uppsala. The company is also a sustainability frontrunner, currently ranked in the top 15 in the world, according to the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB).
“We want to be the world’s most sustainable real estate company and our ambition is to become climate neutral,” says Sandra Jonsson, Technical manager for Vasakronan in Stockholm. “Taking control of all useful kinds of data generated by our buildings, and using it to for instance optimize our energy use, is an important step on the road to fulfilling this ambitious goal.”
Unlocking the potential with Idun ProptechOS and Microsoft Azure
Vasakronan saw the potential in their data and used the open source semantic language, RealEstateCore to map all the data and used Idun ProptechOS to enable them to unlock a host of smart building benefits in order to improve better sustainability, well-being, productivity, and business. ProptechOS is a Building Operating System designed specifically for real estate owners that leverage the capabilities of Microsoft Azure.
Idun ProptechOS includes Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, an advanced cloud platform that makes it possible easily to connect, monitor, provision, and configure a variety of IoT devices; Microsoft Azure IoT Edge, a service built on Azure IoT Hub, which enables users to deploy models built and trained in the cloud and run them locally; and data analytics tool Microsoft Power BI.
Charlie Lagervik, Microsoft Sweden’s Principal Program Manager IoT, explains that Microsoft Azure IoT Hub is a platform service that currently links sensors from a number of Vasakronan’s buildings and connects them to Microsoft’s cloud-based service, Azure. Meanwhile, Azure IoT Edge works locally at each individual site, monitoring parameters based on thousands of data points. Azure IoT Edge collates this data and sends it to the cloud where it is integrated with data from some of Vasakronan’s other buildings. Last but not least, the data can be used in different applications. Power BI is used in some applications to visualize the information contained in the data.
One integrated system
“Together the systems combine local data with the power of the cloud and this enables visualization of them in real time, in an integrated manner. This information can be used to study the health of an individual building, a group of buildings, or to look at Vasakronan’s portfolio as a whole,” continues Lagervik.
Sensor monitoring is nothing new for Vasakronan. However, Sandra Jonsson explains that these solutions have never before been integrated in one system.
“We have millions of data points in our buildings but they used to be spread across multiple different systems – many of which were closed – that didn’t communicate with each other. We realized that we needed to take control of our data and structure it so we’d understand what it actually means and what is useful. In addition, it is an advantage to integrate it into one platform to allow buildings to communicate with each other,” she says.
So why does Vasakronan need an advanced surveillance and control solution like the one Microsoft has provided?
“We see several potential benefits. Energy monitoring is one that is key to our sustainability work,” explains Sandra. “Once we get a grip on how and when our buildings use energy and generate waste, we’ll be able to implement measures to make them significantly more efficient. For example, if we can see that a certain part of an office is empty at certain times of the day, there will be no need to dedicate valuable resources to heating, air conditioning or lighting.”
Another important factor is Vasakronan’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification process. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, which verifies that a building was designed to improve performance across metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources. LEED also offers building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
Whereas Vasakronan’s previous system required operators to go out and manually read the sensor data from each individual building, Idun ProptechOS and Microsoft Azure collects, analyses and collates all this data automatically, thereby vastly reducing the number of man hours required to complete the LEED certification, as well as the risk of human error.
Since Microsoft Azure is an open platform, Vasakronan is now also able to integrate all its various third-party sensors and solutions into one single system.
“Within this open ecosystem, Vasakronan has the freedom to adapt the functionality inhouse as its needs evolve. The solution can be integrated with multiple other third-party suppliers or even transferred to another partner if the customer so wishes. In this sense, Microsoft Azure is future proof” explains Charlie Lagervik.
The sky’s the limit
Vasakronan is currently using the Microsoft Azure platform in a number of pilot projects across its real estate portfolio. For example, one of these monitors the indoor climate, while others analyze issues like fault reports, solar cell production and hourly energy consumption.
Going forward, Vasakronan intends to explore integrating Idun ProptechOS and Microsoft Azure with its Building Information Modeling (BIM) process to create digital twins of its buildings. This would better enable issues to be resolved and analyzed remotely using a virtual, three-dimensional model. Sensor technology can also be used to predict faults before they occur, thereby reducing maintenance costs, and improving the level of service for Vasakronan’s tenants.
As for the total scope of the opportunity that AI and IoT technology offers a company like Vasakronan, Sandra Jonsson says the sky’s the limit.
“We haven’t had time to grasp the full extent of what this solution could potentially do for us. We’re keeping an open mind, staying curious, and seeing how far we can go, but, personally, I think we’ve just scratched the surface,” she concludes.