How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
I joined Echelon back in the early 1990s and realized that smart environments could bring about real, fundamental social change for the greater good. Smart buildings were an obvious area where I thought we, as a company, could apply edge intelligence and help to make an impact in this sector. More than 20 years later, this is something that I still firmly believe in as the VP of Product and Marketing at BuildingIQ.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
It seems that no matter how much things change they stay the same. It’s both disappointing and exciting that change has come slowly. Technology companies look at the Smart Building industry as one that can be cracked with the right tech, but in many ways this industry is about people, not technology. How do we embrace tech? Benefit from tech? And does it really make things better for people? In fact, buildings have been extremely slow to adopt analytics-based technologies for improving energy efficiency. That’s why our energy intelligence platform has human capital as a core pillar, the others being data capture analysis, advanced modelling, control and measurement & verification. Using these five pillars we are able to offer a solution to a building at any point in its lifecycle. In many ways, with the advent of IoT and its evolution away from being a bunch of disparate devices connected to the cloud, we are coming back to the notion of intelligence at the edge within the building and its systems. The question now is: what’s the balance that most benefits our industry and the people it serves? And, what is the right balance of machine and human intelligence that yields the best results?
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
The existing HVAC system within commercial buildings is underrated. These incumbent networks are incredibly capable yet many are in some form of disrepair. Getting them working, and working in harmony with cloud AI or other cloud services would be a major accomplishment for everyone. Right now, though, there’s a lot of hype around “pure” IoT building solutions that are only applicable to a handful of buildings in each city leaving 99.99 percent of the entire buildings market for companies that know how to best leverage the existing systems.
What services does your company offer?
BuildingIQ offers a suite of data-driven services ranging from energy visualization and sub-metering to analytic-driven retro-commissioning, to predictive control. Everything we do is infused with our modeling and analytics technology so we’re always looking to provide value to our clients starting with the basics of what energy data can reveal to us. Our ability to predict how a building and its HVAC system will behave and subsequently make proactive changes to the HVAC system prior to hourly changes in weather and energy costs is unique. It really solves the decaying value proposition of pretty much every other energy providers solution.
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
In our experience, yes. Most building owners that we’re working with are up-to-date on regulatory changes either through working with their utility or on their own. Having said that, regulatory changes drive programs and goals, but in most cases, don’t drive the final purchasing decision.
What are the benefits of a smart building?
The benefits of a smart building are vast, but include lower operating costs, greater tenant comfort and satisfaction, higher property value and marketability, lower carbon emissions, and the ability to participate in incentive programs offered by utilities or municipalities. Having a smart building also plays well into branding a company and public perception.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
For me, it’s never been one individual, but rather the teams I’ve worked with that have influenced my career and views of the industry. Working at an IoT pioneer like BuildingIQ really shaped my vision of what could be done with smart buildings and smart environments.
What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
That question would be: why do you stick around in such a slow-moving industry? It’s a challenge that will require a unique and creative solution to overcome.
What are the best/worst things about your job?
Realizing that what could be done is not necessarily what benefits the company. There is so much that we could accomplish to transform society through smart environments, but we’re slowed by the – very real and necessary – need to make it work economically.
For instance, BuildingIQ broke into the industry with its Predictive Energy Optimization™ (PEO) Technology, which provides closed-loop control of a building’s HVAC system based on predictive analytics, almost 10 years ago now. This cutting-edge offering was ahead of its time and in some ways still is. Maybe one or two buildings in a portfolio of 10 is ready for a solution this advanced. Building systems absolutely benefit from big data analytics and real-time cloud control (within reason), that leverage existing systems to save cost and lower carbon emissions while keeping people comfortable. However, many buildings have antiquated systems that first need to be fixed before anything else. For these buildings, we’re offering a chance to sprint when they’re barely able to tread water let alone crawl. This is the reason BuildingIQ has made a commitment to developing a more diverse compilation of offerings that can tackle basic tasks like ticketing for facility managers to energy visualization to retro-commissioning and ultimately, predictive control.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
The advice I would give is to join a company that’s trying to do something great and make a true impact.
What living person do you admire and why?
President Obama because he kept his dignity through both success and failure.
What is your favourite book?
Frank Herbert’s Dune.
How do you relax?
Mountain biking, movies (mostly sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure – the superhero childish stuff!), reading and keeping up on tech gadgets.
What is your desert island disk?
A 1TB flash drive with all my music in lossless FLAC or 24/96 hires files and a portable music rig to do it all justice. If you mean a specific CD disc for music, then I’d have to go with the two-disc album of The Wall by Pink Floyd.
What is your ideal holiday?
Skiing with my wife and kids at a great resort during an epic powder/weather week. Lodging would have to be ski in/ski out.