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Wayne Balta, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, IBM

Wayne Balta, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, IBM

By Wayne Balta

Businesses operate in a competitive global marketplace – where they must not only deliver value and be efficient, but also must operate responsibly. That includes responsibility towards the environment.

In my view, environmental sustainability must transcend whether or not the topic is popular at any given time, and regardless of short-term business cycles.

Environmental sustainability should be a strategic imperative that anticipates and prevents, rather than reacts and fixes. It should be systemic, not an episodic fad. It’s much more than a demonstration project, or a marketing campaign. Continue Reading »

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Lisa Mandell, President, TrendPoint Systems

Lisa Mandell, President, TrendPoint Systems

By Lisa Mandell

Much has been said and written about the need to optimize the data centers of the world to be more efficient and less costly, especially in a down economy. And while the discussions have generally centered on technology solutions, such as virtualization, de-duplication, thin provisioning, etc., there is a growing need to not only explore, but to strategically think about data center power consumption.

In this age of Big Data analytics, “visibility” into the inner workings of the data center is not only possible, it’s critical. Both great savings and improved performance can result from getting control of, and fine-tuning data center systems. But it takes accurate data, robust analysis and a will to act on the results to make it happen. Continue Reading »

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Vince Ward, Project Officer at the Southern Housing Group

Vince Ward, Project Officer at the Southern Housing Group

By Vince Ward

What started out as a community-based energy project on the Isle of Wight has morphed into a bona fide social movement.

Encouraged by the work of IBM Distinguished Engineer, Andy Stanford-Clark, who created a “smart” house that monitored, managed and optimized energy use, three years ago the Village of Chale created the Chale Community Project, which seeks, among other things, to reduce home energy costs by up to 50 percent. While the project has indeed raised awareness and helped residents lower costs, it has also had a serendipitous outcome – it has brought the community together.

From the very beginning of the Chale Community Project – during planning and roll-out phases – we worked on ensuring the local community was on board. Going from door to door, the team would communicate with residents about the plan of action, encourage participation and try to boost morale. Continue Reading »

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Christopher Luongo, Writer/Strategist, IBM Communications

By Christopher Luongo

More school systems across the U.S. are looking for ways to balance their commitment to providing a top-notch education with the pressure of keeping their buildings in tip-top shape. To achieve this, some schools are moving away from paper-based systems and putting all their data, from operational and maintenance information to real estate and resource data, online. Doing so, however, is creating a whole new set of issues as the schools are now left to deal with the management of “Big Data.” 

Since it’s unreasonable to build brand new, energy-efficient buildings from the ground up, more school districts are looking within and starting to leverage and exploit the Big Data of building information. They’re starting to sift through critical data to make school structures more energy efficient and more cost-effective.

School districts from Portland, Oregon to Palm Beach, Florida are taking this approach. And with IBM’s help they’re finding highly profitable solutions that are helping to cut costs, save energy and enable schools to make smarter decisions on how school buildings are maintained and used.  Continue Reading »

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Martin Kienzle, Ph.D, Electronics Industry Leader, IBM Research

By Martin Kienzle

At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, the hype wasn’t all about the latest smartphone or tablet launch. Exhibitors and attendees alike were abuzz about the rapidly evolving smarter home – a concept that calls for connecting not only your mobile device to the web, but your TV, fridge, washing machine, thermostat and even your carbon monoxide detector. 

The analyst firm Parks Associates forecasts that more than 8 billion devices will be connected to the home network by the end of 2015. The breakthrough that’s driving this mass adoption – cloud computing. Cloud is quickly becoming the common platform to connect these disparate devices into an “Internet of Things.” Continue Reading »

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December 18th, 2012

Andreas Dummler, Director of Information Systems, ARBURG GmbH + Co KG

By Andreas Dümmler

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of injection molding machines used to make plastic products, ARBURG GmbH + Co KG is essentially a manufacturer’s manufacturer. We are as committed to smarter manufacturing processes in our own plants as our clients.

One of our foremost priorities is energy efficiency. As a family-owned business, environmental responsibility is a significant part of our culture. We make use of necessary resources, but stay true to a guiding principle to use the most energy efficient production and management systems in our plants as possible. Key tactics in facility engineering and management include the use of geothermal energy, photovoltaic technology, combined heat and power plants, rain water, waste heat from production equipment, and the use of natural ventilation and extraction in our buildings.

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David Bartlett, Vice President, Industry Solutions, Smarter Buildings, IBM Software Group

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

Every time you walk into a building, think about this: it’s alive and kicking and wants to be fed.

It’s not just some static structure standing there. As Dave Bartlett, vice president of smarter buildings at IBM, sees it, a building is remarkably analogous to a living organism.

The heating and cooling system is also the building’s respiratory system, bringing in fresh air and removing carbon dioxide. It consumes enormous amounts of energy and water along with producing the associated waste.

The musculoskeletal system provides form, support, stability and movement to the building. Sensors, computer monitoring and other instrumentation make up the building’s nervous system.

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September 11th, 2012

By Danny Lu, business analyst, Los Angeles Unified School Districts

Heading into the second week of September, the hallways of the Los Angeles School District (LAUSD) are already buzzing with the sounds of students and teachers settling in for another school year.

Similar to many other schools around the nation, LAUSD is also facing another year of budget cuts to several of its education programs and extracurricular activities. In fact, a survey from the American Association of School Administrators cites that more than 8 in 10 school districts in the U.S. are inadequately funded for the coming year. Clearly, we all must do more with less.

We chose to tackle this problem head on and find innovative ways where we could help reduce costs and keep the focus on our number one priority: the students.

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September 5th, 2012

As New York City public school children return to the classroom with the promise of new knowledge and a clean slate, the school buildings themselves are on a path toward intelligence.

It’s part of an innovative First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) project that will help public school buildings in the city reduce their energy consumption through analytics.

In New York City, where buildings account for 75 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions each year, it’s unreasonable to build brand-new, energy-efficient buildings from the ground up.

But what if you could use technology to sift through critical building data to make school structures more energy efficient and more cost-effective?

Members of the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York (CUNY) asked IBM this question as they began to think about new ways to improve energy efficiency in the city’s public school buildings.

IBM’s answer was to invite them into its labs, where researchers were working on advanced analytics and statistical modeling technologies that could provide insights into the every-day operations of buildings, including energy usage.  Another First-of-a-Kind project was born.

The system that was created lets facility staff track and analyze energy use, compare school buildings’ energy efficiency, forecast power needs, and run simulations on building improvements to predict the benefits of various retrofitting projects.

For example, a facilities department manager or custodian could run the tool, click on the simulation capability, and find out how much energy could be saved by replacing old, single-pane windows with double pane windows.

Also, heating energy used in one building could be compared with that of a nearby building of similar size and age. Perhaps that building serves the same number of students but consumes 20-percent less energy. To improve the less-efficient facility, facilities staff could explore retrofitting projects through computer simulations.

The CUNY project stands to benefit not only New York City’s school buildings, but also the 1.1 million students within. IBM and CUNY are training teachers on the system’s interactive features, which can help examine real energy use and translate it into tangible classroom lessons on environmental impact.

As the City University of New York is discovering, bringing greater intelligence and connectedness into a building’s operations can go a long way toward creating a truly integrated and smarter building system, while reducing energy consumption and developing energy-conscious students along the way.

And as all the FOAK projects are proving, it is the dynamic nature of this close interaction with IBM clients and the changing forces of the real world that drives innovation and brings it to market at an ever-quickening pace.

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By Jim Fletcher, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect, Smarter Infrastructure, IBM

With gas once again flirting with $4 per gallon, imagine shopping for a car in a world where vehicles didn’t come with mileage ratings.

Sure, a smart driver would likely a gut feeling that the pint-sized Prius would be cheaper to fuel than the hulking Hummer for sale next to it. But without official data, or at least a Hummer driver willing to share mileage figures, it’d be tough to know for sure what it would cost to operate the two vastly different vehicles for years to come.

It sounds absurd. Yet for most buyers of houses, commercial buildings and other properties, that far-fetched scenario is pretty much the reality today. Buyers have precious little information of how much energy a given property will consume.

Yet while we’d roll our eyes at the owner of a super-sized SUV who seems surprised about high fill-up costs, who hasn’t heard a story of a person who bought a home only to discover later that it’s hugely expensive to heat and cool?

Luckily city planners, engineers and companies are recognizing that the vacuum of information about building performance is a key to boosting building efficiency, and improving real estate market information—better data helps owners and their tenants make smarter decisions.

An intriguing effort to make this sort of building performance data more transparent surfaced recently in New York City. It’s a map of the city’s five boroughs, color-coded to show the energy intensity of practically every building in the Big Apple’s dense mix of commercial, residential, and mixed-use regions.

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