Recently, I traveled to Newfoundland, Canada, my first visit to this beautiful province. Newfoundland is on the eastern most reaches of North America and from Cape Spear, where I am standing, you can truly be the first to watch the sunrise from the continent.
This province learned a painful lesson on sustainability. Since the 1600’s Newfoundland was one of the worlds most plentiful fishing grounds, but overfishing in the 80’s resulted in a large scale cod fishing ban which has still been ineffective in reconstituting the population.
It therefore seemed appropriate for our first Green Sigma panel discussion on sustainability and energy management for buildings at BOMEX 2011. Consider these sobering projections. Buildings are projected to be the biggest energy user and contributor to global warming by the year 2025 and Newfoundland is rapidly moving to energy exploration in these coastal waters as their key new industry to replace fishing. The need for smarter buildings is clear.
Our topic at BOMEX was ‘Excellence through Innovation: Key Learning’s from the Green Sigma Coalition.’ This coalition represents a first for smarter buildings in bringing together many companies for the good of our collective customers and to tackle the sustainability challenge. Key members from the coalition joined Michael Hayes(IBM) and myself in St. John’s for a conversation that addressed the next stage in the evolution of smarter buildings in the context of our collaborative experiences. We discussed how our companies are enabling leading edge practices in building energy, space, and operations to meet key sustainability challenges that we have faced.
Melissa O’Mara, representing Schneider Electric‘s Green Buildings Solutions, discussed the evolution of the Green Building marketplace from a focus sustainable materials and construction practices, toward a “super high performance” discipline that will be required in order to meet growing regulatory requirements, including the net-zero building regulations in Europe and California, for example. This evolution requires partnering early in the design phase of both new construction and significant retrofit projects, to enable a new generation of analytics and tools that leverage data from across today’s disparate building systems to make smarter building management decisions. A key point was made that not all LEED certified buildings perform well at commissioning or over time. LEED alone is not enough (today) to design and build the high performance buildings of the future.
Brian Dauskurdas, representing Lutron Electronics, discussed Advancements in Lighting Controls. Lighting is approximately 30% of the load on today’s commercial buildings. It is one of the main culprits of excessive energy in today’s existing buildings because there is no controls strategy implemented to optimize both the use of lighting energy and the productivity of the people in the space. One of the main challenges property owners have faced with installing building wide lighting control systems is trying to optimize the existing infrastructure. This hurdle has proved to provide an unrealistic payback to the owner unless they reside in areas with only the highest utility rates. Advancements in lighting control technology have allowed wireless radio frequency devices to significantly decrease the cost of a building wide control system, increasing an owner’s return on investment even at the average utility rate in N. America. By implementing wireless lighting control technology it opens up an architecture that can now optimize energy usage as well as easily communicate into a central building system. By providing this data to a central system, it begins the process of an owner creating rules of optimization that can influence not only lighting but mechanical systems, demand response, personal controls and space utilization.
Michael Hayes, representing IBM, discussed our new offering for Intelligent Building Management that provides a platform to drive advanced analytics in order to optimize building management and energy usage. This offering is designed to add additional insight and intelligence by integrating to systems such as those provided by Schneider and Lutron as we scale to manage large campuses, building portfolios, and smarter cities.
The founding concept of the coalition was to develop best practices, standards support, and thought leadership that allow buildings to operate more sustainably and efficiently.
Other members of the Coalition include: Johnson Controls, Ricoh, Siemens, Cisco, Eaton, HIS, Honeywell, Autodesk, and SAP. It is exciting to be with a group of thought leaders in this space and I wanted to share our first joint presentation at BOMEX which was in fact so well received we have been asked to repeat the coalition presentation at BOMA2012 conference in June in Seattle, Washington.