A carbon-reduction consultancy based in Somerset, Sustain provides energy management services to both public- and private-sector customers. They have been providing detailed analysis and modelling of the energy efficiency of domestic housing to local authority and housing association customers for a number of years. They then wanted to add value to this service by publishing the data on an online map, giving property managers the ability to access energy data online, comparing key indicators and assessing the impact of energy efficiency improvement measures. Against a background of limited resources, Sustain was keen to keep costs as low as possible, minimising the barriers to entry for customers, many of whom had no previous experience of geographical information systems (GIS).
Sustain developed a web-based mapping application designed to represent energy data as simply as possible, while giving customers access to the full range of data produced by the energy analysis. Open-source tools were used throughout, minimising costs for all parties. OS OpenData™ was selected for the background mapping layers, providing a familiar, UK-oriented navigation environment, together with high levels of accuracy and the inclusion of relevant features. The application is hosted remotely, avoiding overheads for the customer.As a web-based solution, the mapping application can be made available to a range of end-users on the customer site, ensuring that energy data is easily available to staff responsible for lettings, asset management, strategic development and sustainability.
The energy-modelling process is primarily designed to support improved decision-making by property managers – addressing the question ‘what is the most cost-effective way of improving the energy efficiency of our housing?’ By visualising the answer to this question, and combining the results with other relevant area-based data, such as fuel poverty and energy consumption figures, Sustain is able to provide a more accessible and context-rich means of delivering the results of its analysis, bringing to life what was previously a set of spreadsheets. Where customers have not previously used GIS, the service also provides an easy entry point to the benefits of geographic representation and analysis of property data. Additional layers, either free or commercial, can be added as required and any existing Ordnance Survey licensed data can also be made available in the application.
Return on investment
Social housing providers have a responsibility to improve the energy efficiency of their housing and the welfare of their tenants. This application helps to ensure that these goals can be achieved in a way that uses limited investment resources in the most efficient way possible. By adding the mapping component to the service, Sustain has been able to complete 10 instances of the web-based energy map to housing providers, with more in the pipeline.