Building owners are no longer content with old operating models or building services that just meet the status quo. In order to meet the growing demands of various stakeholders, real estate owners are looking to their traditional solution partners, building services firms, to help improve building occupant comfort, trim utility costs, adapt to changing workforce dynamics and to meet more stringent green credentials.

Envizi commissioned independent analyst firm Verdantix to investigate the current state of building optimization technology adoption in the building services sector in North America.

Our research found that over one third of the 85 building services providers we spoke to are piloting analytics solutions. While these leading firms have begun to adopt building optimization technologies, the evidence from this study shows that some firms are waiting until client demand is so overwhelming that they have no choice but to change. This is a risky approach and may not leave enough time to catch up with more forward-thinking peers. These firms will need to overcome challenges of technology adoption to de-risk the prospect of being left behind or overtaken by new market entrants. Specifically, building services firms face the following technology adoption challenges:

Workforces that are not engaged with technology

Managing change within any organization is always a challenging process. It requires rethinking of existing processes and systems (i.e. what do we do with all of this new building performance data) and can be an uncomfortable occurrence for many long standing and experienced employees. Adoption of new technologies may face resistance from a range of stakeholders including subject matter experts who feel their job is threatened, executives hesitant to abandon sunk costs in existing systems and technicians who perceive the new technology to be too complicated.

What service firms are saying

“Our standard services business is comprised mostly of veteran field guys who are not the most tech savvy.” – VP of Sales, Services


Resistance to invest without a client demanding an optimization solution

Building services is a highly competitive industry with many firms competing on price. Because of this, many firms have taken the stance that if clients aren’t paying for it, we’re not doing it. This strategy carries risks as clients may be interested in building optimization, but not have the expertise to understand how to apply the solution. However, as building optimization solutions and the broader smart building technology market matures, clients will start to ask if these long-standing solutions, and the providers who deliver them, are still the best fit for their organization.

What service firms are saying

“This would be driven by both of us and client requests. The real alpha is a client that demands it and is willing to pay for it.” – Executive VP, Building Services


Lack of clarity on what to do with data

For those service firms that are trialing building optimization solutions, some are challenged by how to best capture and manage data. This includes what to collect, how to collect it, how much to collect and how to ensure data accuracy. Not all technology solutions are created equal. Some building optimization solutions are highly customizable but require extensive engineering knowledge to configure custom rules. Other solutions work with predefined rules that focus on the most material faults, and can be implemented with minimal IT expertise.

What service firms are saying

“There is a ton of data you can get from a building that means absolutely nothing. I don’t need a 1 second refresh rate on an air dampener, just give me a 15 minute refresh rate because we are more interested in hourly changes. We are trying to figure out which metrics are worth eating up bandwidth.” – VP Facilities Services


The building services sector is maturing rapidly, and building optimization technology is creating new opportunities and challenges. Adaptive firms have begun to tackle these challenges head on to remain competitive in an evolving market.

If your building services firm has been hesitant to transition to a technology-focused market, now is the time to act.

The digital era is transforming the face of business, redefining entire industries and making others obsolete. As digital transformation reaches the commercial real estate sector, all players in the building ecosystem will need to devise new ways of working to manage the risks and seize the opportunities of the future.