Unlocking the Potential of the BER database with Spatial Data

Last month, GeoDirectory hosted its annual customer conference in Dublin. The event focused on the full view of data to explore how Irish enterprises are using different types of data to better serve their customers and organisations. During the event, Niall Delaney, Lead Spatial Analyst at Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) discussed how SEAI applied spatial data to its Building Energy Rating (BER) database to help SEAI reach its business goals and support Ireland’s National Climate Action Plan. Here is a recap of the presentation and the full recording in case you missed it.

Short on time? Here are the main key takeaways from the talk: 

  • Applying spatial data to SEAI’s existing database provided a spatial dimension of every record in the database which gave SEAI the ability to view the database as a map of Ireland. This provided a lot of insights to the business which may not been found otherwise. 
  • Sustainable behaviour change can be challenging to persuade households at a national level. The insights from the data helped show how this change increases when it involves direct contact with people at a community level. 
  • SEAI applied these insights into action by developing community initiatives such as local sustainable energy communities supporting communities and community based social marketing activities. 

SEAI is Ireland’s national sustainable grant energy authority. It works with householders, businesses, communities and government to create a cleaner energy future. It is best known for providing households and business grants to upgrade their energy efficiency, but it also has a primary role in informing government policy and planning. The main way SEAI does this is through the collection and analysis of energy rating data. One of the biggest databases it manages is the BER database and it has collected energy rating data of over one million buildings in Ireland.  

One of SEAI’s main goals is to support Ireland’s National Climate Action Plan which sets out how Ireland is putting climate solutions at the centre of the country’s social and economic. As part of this initiative, Ireland has committed to reducing building emissions through a national retrofit plan and aims to retrofit 500,000 homes by 2030 which is supported by SEAI grants. To meet this retrofit target SEAI is tasked to increase demand for home energy upgrades across Ireland.  

Unlocking the Database Potential  

To help meet this goal, SEAI needed to understand the behaviour of its current customer’s and find any trends amongst its BER database. The database included information about building energy ratings, but it was missing location information which limited the team’s data analysis. To build a clearer picture of the data, SEAI added GeoDirectory’s GeoAddress spatial data of all residential buildings in Ireland to its BER database. 

By implementing this added knowledge, Niall said “Linking the BER database to spatial data meant we can add a spatial dimension to every record in there and view the entire database as if it were a map. And that can lead to a lot of insights that wouldn't otherwise be obvious.” 

With statistical analysis, Niall’s team took a more complex view of the data and found interesting trends amongst the database. Niall explained “With closely at the spatial relationships between these homes, we're able to establish that there's a very definite neighbourhood effect when it comes to the installation of solar panels and the uptake of grants” Furthermore, these insights demonstrated that sustainable behaviour change is most effective when it's carried out or when it involves direct contact with people and it's carried out at the community level. 

Turning Insights into Action 

From these insights, SEAI adopted the idea that sustainable change is most effective when it happens at the community level, and it is now a core part of how SEAI tries to drive a demand for home energy upgrades. 

This core part has allowed SEAI to help develop community-based initiatives across Ireland. One of these initiatives is local sustainable energy communities which are groups of people that come together to improve how energy is used for the benefit of their community. To date, over 700 of these sustainable energy communities are registered and are run by local groups such as community centres, sports clubs or councillors. SEAI supports these communities by providing them insights into the current situation of the buildings in their area and then also providing them with a road map to how they can get to their ideal situation. 

SEAI has also developed community based social marketing to complement its sustainable energy community programme. This initiative supports community groups by offering support and funding to achieve the groups sustainable energy goals. When running this initiative Niall explains “SEAI will identify specific towns where we think there's a high potential to drive a homeowner demand for energy upgrades. We then design hyper targeted marketing campaigns that are specifically directed to those towns and it ultimately culminates in a daylong event that's hosted at a local venue and the idea of the whole process is just to make it very easy for the homeowners to avail of home energy upgrade grants, but it's also in place to start building that sense of community that's so important now in terms of promoting sustainable change.” 

If you would like to learn how you can use GeoAddress to unlock the potential of your database, find out more here 

Posted: 31/05/2023 12:30:00