Buildings Alive sends Rapid Efficiency Feedback (REF) messages every day to the operators of about 60 buildings telling them how their buildings performed yesterday. The messages are pretty clear: energy performance was either as expected or better or worse than expected.

The messages also provide trend information and graphics comparing the building’s profile with a few nearby/comparable buildings and ‘like days’, where the operating conditions were similar and energy use should have been near-identical (in the absence of operator-initiated changes).

What operators don’t see is how their building is tracking against all the other buildings that are also receiving REF. How good is “good”? How did other buildings of a similar age, size and energy intensity fare yesterday? How are they trending?

To help answer these questions we’ve developed a new interactive visualisation in collaboration with Small Multiples that works like an index to help people explore the similarities and differences between buildings.

Anyone who visits the site can explore the visualisation by hovering over the columns in the main chart and seeing a building’s performance revealed in the comment box. A selection is made by clicking on a column. This then reveals performance details in the charts below and anchors the selection so that the building can be identified as different views are chosen.

Screenshot of the REF performance visualisation

Screenshot of the REF performance visualisation

It is also possible to filter the main chart to make it easier to compare buildings with similar characteristics.

All details are anonymised for obvious reasons. However, anyone who has operational responsibility for a building is able to identify his/her building(s) by using a unique access key. That way we are able to help operators understand the context their buildings are operating in without attracting unfair attention.


So far we are showing the daily stats for about 2/3rds of the office buildings we are working with – those that have been receiving the REF service for a few months or more. Those that have recently begun receiving REF (including non-office types) will be added progressively to allow more valuable insights to emerge from a larger sample over time.


What do you think? We welcome your feedback and suggestions.