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Case study

Reducing carbon emissions from commercial real estate

The climate emergency is upon us and property fund managers must act fast to reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings. But where to start? With leading sustainability consultancy EVORA Global, we designed a powerful ESG data platform that starts to provide answers.

Japanese city green architecture
Commercial property owners must take measures to reduce emissions or risk devaluing their assets

From expert-friendly, to client-friendly

As climate change advances, property fund managers and their teams are under increasing pressure to reduce the emissions generated by their assets.

EVORA Global’s software platform, SIERA, helps them decide where and how to act by capturing, crunching and visualising all their energy and emissions data.

This is no mean feat given wide variances in the flow and accuracy of data from different assets. But EVORA’s consultants are recognised experts in the field, and SIERA is the most powerful tool on the market.

There’s just one problem. SIERA is not as user friendly as it could be. It works for expert consultants, but less so for their non-expert clients, who increasingly rely on insight from the platform to inform their investment strategies.

Evora asked us to help them design a new version of SIERA. One that brings Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) data to life for their clients, and helps them make good decisions. And one they can use themselves, whenever they want, rather than relying on EVORA consultants.


Focussing on core needs and delivering an MVP

We began with user research, to understand the needs of these new, non-expert users. 

We spoke to fund and asset managers who oversee portfolios worth billions. We spoke to their property management teams who let and maintain the buildings. And we spoke to the ESG leads charged with making thinking about ESG a central part of decision making in these large financial institutions.

User research outputs
Outputs from user research included storyboards and journey maps highlighting opportunities to improve the experience of our target users.

Some needs were shared by all user groups, but often they were specific to a role. For example, a property manager needs to report on events in a building that may have affected energy consumption, whilst a fund manager needs a helicopter view on the pathway to Net Zero for an entire fund.

We needed to prioritise, so we agreed to narrow our focus and start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) aimed primarily at property managers and their teams. Our embedded team of UX, UI and Product people worked with EVORA’s internal team and their technical partners Trivium, to design and build a solution to meet their needs.

The result is SIERA+, a brand new product, that helps property managers track the energy performance of their assets, manage their action plans and report to their asset manager clients.

Asset list page on a screen
SIERA+ helps property and asset managers track the energy performance and emissions of their buildings.

Iterating and expanding on the MVP

Since releasing the MVP of SIERA+ in July 2021, we have continued to work with EVORA to iterate the product with feedback from end-users.  

It’s a major undertaking. SIERA+ is a complex web app, ingesting and refining data from thousands of sources, and displaying it in various ways designed to engage and satisfy the needs of different user groups.

We have had to think hard about how to make complex data simple to grasp, how to draw attention to salient information, how to balance the needs of experts and novice users, and ultimately, how to inspire action to reduce emissions.

In 2022, we have broadened our focus to encompass users who deal at the fund level – fund and investment managers who need to model effect of changes to their funds on ESG metrics and make investment decisions. There’s a lot to do, and fantastic progress is being made.

Building a user centred culture

EVORA has always focused on the needs of its customers. But because the SIERA software was mainly used by internal consultants, there was less emphasis on involving users in the software design process in a structured way.

Panda has supported EVORA to adopt a more user centred approach. Starting with needs. Then testing solutions with users repeatedly throughout the design process – from rough concepts, to high fidelity prototypes, to working code.

We have also mentored members of the EVORA team and helped establish cross-functional squads, with product, design and technology people collaborating more effectively.


A new platform for growth

EVORA now has a product that can be used directly by their clients,  enabling their consultants to spend more time delivering valuable advice, and less time wrestling with data.

Meanwhile, EVORA’s clients have a tool they can use themselves, to see how their assets are performing, and what they need to do to deliver on their Net Zero commitments.

Panda has been our trusted design partner as we develop SIERA+ and build our internal design capability. They have helped us navigate a series of complex design decisions with great care and reinforced our belief in user-centred design.

Nick Hogg – Product Director, EVORA Global

The SIERA+ team is now established and growing, with cross-functional squads focused on adding value for users and therefore the business.

In fact, EVORA has recently completed a major investment round to expand their offering, and accelerate the development of SIERA.

And we, the Pandas, continue to be inspired by the opportunity to design ways to help people take action to build a more sustainable future for everyone.

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