Honest Buildings, launched in the UK today, may look like another business networking site, but this one puts the buildings themselves at the heart of its connections, with their sustainability open to scrutiny, and scope to integrate with other platforms.
Honest Buildings, a US-based property network that connects decision makers to service providers for millions of commercial buildings, is expanding into the UK, and, through a partnership with BRE Global, is displaying the environmental performance certifications of thousands of buildings that are certified under the BREEAM standard.
I first encountered Honest Buildings when its then sole UK representative Nick Katz spoke at the Be2Awards event I organised in London in September 2012. Since then, he has been busy marketing the platform to UK businesses; firms using the platform now include Aviva Investors, British Land, and Henderson Global Investors (among others; we’re talking 14.1 million square metres, or more than 9,500 commercial buildings).
Launched in New York in March 2012, superficially, it has similarities with social networks such as LinkedIn, but rather than linking individuals and companies, its main focus is on buildings. Planned, under construction or completed, buildings can have profiles created for them with which owners, consultants, contractors and other service providers can then associate themselves.
Over time, these profiles can be developed by the firms into online and app-based HB Portfolios of the work they’ve undertaken (echoing Woobius Showcase here; pwcom post). Equally, customers looking for consultants and other service providers for future projects can use Honest Buildings as a match-making service (HB Match) to source, qualify and select firms for their next schemes.
Mark Chadwick of London consultant Carbon Clear used HB Match to find an engineering firm for an energy efficient HVAC retrofit of a 10,000 square metre luxury hotel outside London:
“The speed and efficiency with which HB delivered was very impressive, providing qualified contacts with virtually no effort on our side. We expect to use the platform for rolling out this pilot and expanding to the rest of the hotel portfolio.”
Also, as part of today’s launch, BRE Global is, for the first time beyond its own website, sharing the BREEAM certifications of thousands of buildings online. Honest Buildings profiles will help users identify projects with good sustainability credentials, and also link to the firms that helped achieve the relevant BREEAM certifications. Large design firms such as Arup, WSP and Buro Happold already have profiles on the network, as do smaller specialists like Carbon Clear, and Carbon Saver UK whose MD Janet Becket says:
“The Honest Buildings Network is such a useful resource and so handy to display our portfolio of work. There’s the possibility to get discovered by all sorts of property decision makers, partners and others, as well as the unlimited upside of gaining new business from HB Match.”
The BRE Global partnership echoes similar relationships in the US, where Honest Buildings has worked with state governments to power their online platforms for building and energy efficiency initiatives. It powers a platform for New York State’s Build Smart NY initiative, which aims for a 20% reduction in energy use across 224 million sq ft of government-owned property by 2020. In London, Honest Buildings is based at the Open Data Institute in Shoreditch and collaboration there will allow Honest Buildings access to further data sets in the UK and beyond.
Collaboration and integration?
When I first heard about Honest Buildings I immediately thought there was an opportunity for re-use of information from the construction collaboration platforms used by project teams to plan, design, deliver and (sometimes) to operate and maintain built assets (and asset portfolios). Details about the supply chains involved are already stored in these mainly SaaS-based systems, along with thousands of documents, drawings, photographs and other files produced during project delivery. In my view it would involve a simple export/import process for data about a project to be re-used to populate a detailed building profile, and include links to all the relevant parties (perhaps even with peer review ratings and/or recommendation on their abilities).
Moreover, some of the certifications and associated documentation that might be used by Honest Buildings may already be stored in the system so retrieval of these for re-use will be straightforward. And where a platform is also used for operation and maintenance or facilities management purposes, then it could also be used to help share detailed information about energy performance or other metrics from Honest Buildings data partners (including perhaps asset management specialist KyKloud [post] – or ‘internet of things’ developers such as Cosm). This might also fit with the corporate social responsibility ambitions of some SaaS vendors (Conject, for example, has made a big carbon-neutrality pitch).