“We needed an incredible sophistication at the building level, but we also need to do this in a way that is not just reliable, but also makes sense from an affordability standpoint and more and more makes sense from a sustainability standpoint."
The Nexus podcast (Apple | Spotify | YouTube | Other apps) is our chance to explore and learn with the brightest in our industry—together. The project is directly funded by listeners like you who have joined the Nexus Pro membership community.
You can join Nexus Pro to get a weekly-ish deep dive, access to the Nexus Vendor Landscape, and invites to exclusive events with a community of smart buildings nerds.
Episode 79 is a conversation with Lincoln Bleveans, Stanford University's Executive Director of Sustainability and Energy Management and Gerry Hamilton, Stanford's Director of Facilities Energy Management.
We talked about Stanford's Smart Buildings Program, including why technology matters so much, the technology they've implemented to cut approximately 90% of emissions, and what's next on their roadmap.
This is a fascinating look at how buildings technology started as an energy management play, is evolving into an operations and maintenance play, and will soon evolve into a core business focus that supports the resiliency of the mission itself.
Without further ado, please enjoy the Nexus podcast with Stanford University.
- Why is building technology important? To the U, to students, to other stakeholders. (7:29)
- Energy & Sustainability - unpack the goals and initiatives (net zero by 2050) (27:06)
- What use cases and tech have you implemented? (to get to 90% carbon savings (35:34)
- How have you made the business case for investment? (46:46)
- What new tech are you excited about right now? (59:22)
- Lessons learned - it starts with the people (1:06:44)
Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!
James Dice: hello friends, welcome to the nexus podcast. I'm your host James dice each week. I fire questions that the leaders of the smart buildings industry to try to figure out where we're headed and how we can get there faster without all the marketing fluff. I'm pushing my learning to the limit. And I'm so glad to have you here following along.
James Dice: This episode is a conversation with Lincoln Blevins, Stanford university's executive director of sustainability and energy management. And Jerry Hamilton. Stanford's director of facilities, energy management. We talked about Stanford smart buildings program, including why technology matters so much. The technology that implemented the cut, approximately 90% of carbon emissions. And what's next on their roadmap. This is a fascinating look at how buildings technology started. As an energy management play [00:01:00] is evolving into an O and M or operations and maintenance play and will soon evolve. Into a core business focus that supports the resiliency of the campus mission itself. Without further ado, please enjoy the nexus podcast with Stanford university. Hello, Lincoln and Jerry, welcome to the show Lincoln. Let's start with you. Can you introduce yourself?
Lincoln Bleveans: Sure. Great to be here. Uh, Thank you for the invitation. I'm Lincoln Blevins. I'm the executive director for sustainability and energy management at Stanford university covering energy and sustainability obviously, but also water and building energy management.
I've been in the industry, mostly the energy industry for almost 30 years uh, all over the world and all over the value chain. Most recently at Burbank water and power out here in Southern California and now up at Stanford and Northern California and just finding, finding it to be an amazing journey of transformation over the last few decades and [00:02:00] really looking forward to the next decade where I think we're gonna see.
The most transformation wall.
James Dice: Awesome. And all right, so Jerry, we'll go to you. Can you introduce yourself? And it sounds like you work for Lincoln. Is that, is that true?
Gerry Hamilton: That's right. James I'm Jerry Hamilton. I'm the director of facilities, energy management at Stanford. I've got an interesting crew here. We run some very complex energy programs.
We manage retrofits, we manage some complex incentive mechanisms. We do consulting for new construction and retrofit projects. We also include our facilities automation center, and that's where I spend a lot of time. I mean the opportunity to involve with new technology, smarter buildings, applications, and of course these applications save energy.
So they go, they go hand in hand. So coming at this from a couple different angles, I'm a chemical engineer by background. I've been at Stanford 11 years and did energy consulting before that. But it's been a fun ride. Can't believe how fast 11 years has gone by, but. [00:03:00] The blessed to do some pretty fun projects here at Stanford.
James Dice: And so, so Lincoln, your background's interesting, you said you're in the energy industry. So what do you, what were you doing and what were the, maybe the couple of jobs that kind of led into working on the building side?
Lincoln Bleveans: Uh, Sure. I I started out in the wild west of independent power back in the nineties when everybody in there and their mother was flying all over the world mostly to emerging market countries to do power plant development.
And I was part of that, part of that army doing deals from east Asia, Southeast Asia, south Asia, central America, south America, north Africa, middle east, all over the, all of my, a lot of requirements, a lot of jet lag a lot of great deals, but then from there to working in. Energy efficiency projects and doing some mergers and acquisitions, some renewable energy projects over here in the U S as [00:04:00] well as most recently, being at a vertically integrated utility doing doing the power side.
Very involved in the water side as well. And that was a Burbank water and power, which is a big utility down here with some very, very interesting customers, Warner brothers, Disney, Nickelodeon, the biggest Ikea in north America. And obviously very customers with very, very significant energy needs, but also very, very significant sophistication.
Around their energy. And that's what got me onto that side of the meter, so to speak. And so now, especially through the work that Jerry's team does up at Stanford, there's an opportunity to really take that to infinity and beyond. So to speak in terms of applying technologies for the most, some of the most extraordinary customers, Nobel prize, winning [00:05:00] physicist, for example, that the world has to offer.
So we're really, really playing in the big leagues, which is a lot of fun.
James Dice: Cool. And you've been at stanford how long?
Lincoln Bleveans: Uh, It is almost nine months. So still in a lot of ways, drinking from the fire hose heritage, a fantastic team of which Jerry is is one of my rock stars. So it's been really.
James Dice: Amazing. All right, Jerry, how about you? So you were in energy consulting. How did you make any you and I talked about this a couple of weeks ago at real calm at, at dinner, make the transition from that consulting side into the building owner world. And what's that been like?
Gerry Hamilton: Well, it's been a few years doing classic third party implementation program design program implementation, M and V at the work with some pretty big utilities around the country.
It was fun. It was exciting. A lot of work. I kind of refer to it as my graduate program, a lot of [00:06:00] work drinking from the fire hose. After a while it became apparent that I'd like to work for an owner. Um, I hadn't done that before my prior work until. Traditional combustion work. Ironically, I was in the industrial and boiler world power plant world.
And I'd learned a bit about automation. Didn't appreciate it at the time, but had to do a lot of automation to support these complex industrial processes. And about 12 years ago, Stanford decided they wanted to create this position I have, which was a unique combination of energy management program management and automation.
And I just so happened to be the right unicorn at the right place at the right time and who wouldn't want to come to work at Stanford. And at the time Stanford was proceeding with some facilities upgrades. That everybody else was only writing about, you know, we would write reports for large government funded entities about the potential [00:07:00] of electrification, for example, and here Stanford was actually doing it.
And this was over 12 years ago that the plans were coming together and I got on board a little over 11 and it's been a great ride.
James Dice: cool. Well, I mean, the focus of today, what I'd like to get into is what I call smart building strategy. But really that encompasses a lot of different things.
Right. Really it's it's why is technology important, right? Is that kind of the first, first place to sort of jump in? So, so Lincoln let's, let's start with you from, from Stanford's standpoint, why is smart building technology important and who is it important?
Lincoln Bleveans: Well, it's it's it's a really, I'd like to jump off of from where, what Jerry was talking about in terms of actually doing it, actually walking the walk.
In addition to talking the talk, Stanford has a, is really, it it's really a small. In a lot of regards full service city. We have [00:08:00] a electric about 60 megawatts of electrical supply. We have a, what is now a almost $600 million thermal energy facility. It was built about six years ago. That is really the beating court for the cannabis, with hot water and jewel water.
And then this incredible distribution network for hot, large, old water, as well as electricity itself to power the campus. And then you have hundreds of buildings that are laboratories, their classrooms, their offices, their dormitories, their you name it all sorts of different end uses. And so you've got an incredible diversity of.
Kind of energy people need and what they need it for. And the, I, you know, I mentioned the Nobel prize winners in physics for, you know, you have a lot of variety too in the, the urgency and the need for extraordinary reliability and [00:09:00] resilience in that supply. And so when we get down to the building level, that's where the rubber hits the road for all of this.
And that's where the whole picture comes together. Not only providing hot water, chilled water, electricity, a little bit of steam, but providing it in ways that. You know, often in the building, you'll have a physics lab and the next door down and you'll have a classroom and the next door down and you'll have an office.
Those are three very, very different needs within the same building and a very different needs for reliability, very different needs in the case of a curtailment, for example. So we needed an incredible sophistication at the building level, but we also need to do this in a way that is not just reliable, but also makes sense from an affordability standpoint and more and more makes sense from a sustainability standpoint.
And so how do [00:10:00] we not only use the thermal energy and the electric energy efficiently, but how do we then go create a unified value chain where we're going all the way up? Back to the supply, the source and creating a sustainable solution that meets our needs. And so we have our purchase agreements with solar farms out in the, in the rural areas.
And then, you know, coming in to the campus, to the, to the thermal plant. And then how do we match that up in the buildings that Jerry is responsible for in a way that meets those needs and is really, I think ultimately transplant here if at a minimum transparent to the occupant occupants, but at a maximum really empowers the occupants to be as sustainable as they can possibly be while getting what they need to get done for research and teaching and [00:11:00] administration standpoint.
So it's a really exciting walk, the walk and full value chain. Sort of solution. And of course the world keeps changing definitions of sustainability, keep changing. The electrical grid keeps changing. So not only do we have to be very, very good in the present day, which we are, but always looking over the horizon and always positioning ourselves to be successful in the next year, the next five years, five years, 10 years, 20 years.
So, and you know, when you're the last thing you want is a phone call from that Nobel prize winner saying my physics experiment just turned. That is not the one you want. We're working in a very, very wonderfully high pressure environment to get things absolutely right. All the time.
James Dice: Totally.
And so whenever I hear you, I I'm hearing all these different stakeholders, right. So I think you've mentioned three or four. You probably haven't mentioned, there's probably like construction [00:12:00] projects going on here and there as well on campus. So there's probably another set of potential stakeholders there, but, but I heard students, I heard Jerry's team.
Right. So maybe it's just like the con maybe encompass that and like the O and M staff, right. Their world. There's probably sustainability. Stakeholders right as well. I heard professors, right? That's an important stakeholder group and potentially maybe billing departments for the energy they consume that kind of thing.
So, so I guess I'm hearing a lot of different potential ways that technology could be used. Am I, am I on track there?
Lincoln Bleveans: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's, a situation where the needs are so varied within the institution and the buildings are so varied. You know, we have the buildings that if you look at our backgrounds, you know, in the original pieces of the campus that go back decades, maybe a century, [00:13:00] I should've done this, I doubt.
Um, But you also have some of the most advanced buildings in the world and everything in between. And. All of that technology has to work in a way that is transparent to the occupants or, you know, even better empowering to the occupants across that building stock. And you, you know, you make a great point.
When I first joined Stanford a few months ago, I asked, you know, if construction and demolition ever stops and the show managers know always something going up, there's always something coming down and yet everything the whole Stanford trade has to keep moving seamlessly through all of that.
James Dice: Got
Anything to add there, Jerry?
Gerry Hamilton: energy efficiency has opened a lot of doors for projects and technology. And that's no exception at Stanford. Sanford's had formal energy programs since the early nineties. And so the low hanging fruit was gone even when I showed up here. So. Every [00:14:00] project that we do now, almost invariably entails automation improvements and probably the majority of projects.
Now, the big ones that are saving, you know, 10, 20, 30% for building or exclusively automation. So energy is still a benefit there, but the thing that we're focusing on right now my team and collaboration with our operation and maintenance colleagues across campus is operation and maintenance. How can technology materially improve their lives, save them money.
And it's, it's, it's tough because we can measure a safe kilowatt hour pretty quickly, or a saved therm or a save ton hour impacts on maintenance. That takes a much longer time. Consumables are one thing, but when you're trying to manage staff and staff, morale is a big thing too. We've dealt with the challenge of.
Applying smarts getting some ideas, creating work orders and those work orders, bearing staff who already feel under appreciated and over, [00:15:00] right. So we have to get smart about how we use smarts to, to help the operation of maintenance side, to the extent now that I think this is, this is a sign of the times, you know, everybody thinks about energy now, and if you can operate and maintain your buildings properly, you're going to get the energy savings for free.
So how do we really get folks paying attention to the ONM? Make sure that those folks realize, you know, this is a university program, this is a university opportunity. It's not just Lincoln. It's not just Jerry trying to push energy anymore. Bringing in that, that team. So we're, we're doing what we can on that front.
The other thing we've noticed is. Making data available, data access. It's one of the key tenants of a data governance strategy. And we're learning about these things as we go, and people often talk about students, can they see your dad or do they want this data? Well, that's one way to put it, but what does it mean if we really want to support research?
That means this data has to be readily available and instead it [00:16:00] has to be clean and understandable and it has to be normalized. So there's a lot of work that has to happen when you make data available in a practical manner to students, to researchers, to stakeholders. And that stakeholder pool continues to grow because you never know who can benefit from our data, whether it's energy data, whether it's building a HVAC system, data lighting system data.
And we learn as we go, as we try to be open-minded and go beyond the way things were maybe a decade plus ago, which was well, it's my system. Why do you need the data? You don't have to operate this, right? You're not responsible for this, but that. Prevents new ideas. Right. And that's really the door and technology's opening is the unpredicted.
What are we going to get out of this that we never thought we would in the first place? Yeah,
James Dice: that's that, that piece of it, I feel like. Isn't talked about as much. So like when I was at Enrail we national renewable energy laboratory, it's kind of like a campus in that way. You never know. It's probably [00:17:00] even more so.
Right. The, the amount of researchers on that campus that care about how buildings use energy is probably the most in the world potentially. And so the ability to like, you just don't know what they're going to do with the data, you just have to share it. And every university I've ever worked in has been that same way.
You never know when a student is going to come in and be like, I'd like to do this experiment or a researcher or graduate, you know, that kind of thing. So that, to me, when I think about universities specifically, right, there's the broader smart buildings industry and then there's universities. And what are the use cases within that?
There's the student experience, right? There's providing a, a, you know, productive, safe, comfortable, healthy, you know, Experience, but then there's also the the, yeah, the enablement piece that I think is important for you guys too, how do you accomplish that? Technology wise? No need to talk about specific vendors, but you know, specifically when you think about that data in a [00:18:00] BIS or a metering system, it's not necessarily designed to do what you just described, Jerry.
Gerry Hamilton: one of the things that I'm most proud of my team about is the pragmatic approach of building controls and, and managing that data. And the subsequent analytics platforms that, that, that we use is really working backwards. Instead of trying to get the best killer app. Flashy is tool start with where's this data coming from, and how do we ensure that this data is right and being effective?
So we started the building management system. We try to have good, solid sequence of operations. We're under a lot of pressure not to over specify. You know, we don't want our projects to be so expensive that the university can't afford to build them into our new construction projects. So to be as practical as possible but where we need good instrumentation, where we need good.
We, you know, we, we push forward and where we can live with a little bit less. We, we accept that, but we find it's very important to get that data [00:19:00] normalized and set up at the very beginning in that, in the source system, because then it flows easily into whatever tool are you using to manage that and that data base, that leg, whatever you want to call your system, it has to then be able to share that data someplace else.
And it starts at the beginning. What we found is that you can buy as many apps and tools as you want, but every one of them has to be integrated. And there's a cost associated with that. And there's the vendors, labor costs. There's your support, labor costs. There's your it partners labor costs. And sometimes those costs are hidden and you don't see them sometimes there's opportunity costs because you can only onboard one tool at a time.
So really streamlining how that data flows. Fortunately just within the last 12 months, we've had a couple of new construction projects go through where we used a fault detection, diagnostic software to do the commissioning. And it was great to see that the data points were set up in the automation system.
They [00:20:00] automatically fed into the fault detection, diagnostic platform. The commissioning agent could plug right into that and run all of their tests and needs and things just went really smooth really quickly. We saw tremendous cost savings in a way. It was almost too good to be. But the fact that we spent a decade building up to that point, I think, and so then this then leads into, you know, ongoing commissioning, you know, these tools don't go away.
And so then we've got an ongoing commissioning team it's about a year old. We're still norm normalizing how those people get along, but using the, the technology to deliver specific results, whether it be. Building commission as soon as possible. Or we want to be able to have metrics for across our operating team that say definitively yet, these are our priority buildings.
These are the priority issues in the building. These are the priority work orders that we're going to release this week. These are the priorities that we're going to get done this week. And you don't always get to pick your favorite, but you [00:21:00] have a framework that you can justify. So you may have an energy management system.
You may have an HVAC call detection diagnostic system. You may have some fancy tools on top of your computerized maintenance management system, or you just may have an individual who just knows a lot. Right. And then there's always the individuals on campus who know all the historical anecdotes and they're important to I, you know, I don't know how to put those into the database just yet, but you've got to capture that because only when the teams working together, are we going to knock these things out?
So it had some good success there. But again, it's almost technology agnostic. It's just getting the right information to the right people so they can work well together.
Lincoln Bleveans: Yeah. I'd like to I want to go back to your point that you made earlier and then tie in what Jerry just said. We're really at a point in our world, but specifically at Stanford where climate and therefore energy has really moved from the edge of the conversation to the, to the center of the conversation.
And [00:22:00] so there is a hunger for knowledge and a hunger for creating new knowledge, which of course means in a lot of cases, turning data into insight that I'm not sure we're ready yet, you know, ready for yet. The, the tools that we have are really operationally based tools. That's w that's how the world has been set up for the last a hundred years, but what we're finding.
And again, especially in an academic environment is that we're, we're having a lot more people wanting a lot more data, a lot more access to what more data, because this is the thing now. And for all the right reasons, this is the thing now, but the legacy systems aren't set up to support everybody's research project everybody's desire to know.
And so I think one of our biggest challenges over time is to realize that we're really on the front [00:23:00] end of taking of, of opening. I kind of picture, you know, French doors or big barn doors or something into our world and allowing people to look in and allowing people to do things from a research perspective, with data that isn't necessarily.
To be useful to them or to be delivered to them in an efficient and reliable and replicatable way. So I think that that's a big part of what we're seeing. We're just seeing the beginning of that wave. We haven't seen quite the tsunami yet. I don't think, but we're just seeing the beginning of that way of a lot of people getting very curious about our.
And yet, and our world isn't quite yet set up to allow them the visibility to satisfy their curiosity. So I think that is going to be a really interesting thing, especially at Stanford [00:24:00] where the level of intellectual horsepower and the level of curiosity is as high as it is anywhere in the world.
And of course, sustainability and climate change are front and center. So it's a really exciting,time.
James Dice: This reminds me of a conversation I was having last week. It was with a group of software developers. That's one of my clients and they were looking at trying to provide some sort of decision-making tool for someone that is able to look at indoor air quality and energy, and look at trade-offs between the two, which is a, is there, that's a great question to ask and it's a great attempt at.
You know, providing value to operations folks. But when I had to explain to them was like, if you just look at, say, indoor air quality is measured in the zone and then energy metering happening across all these different systems and metering and all [00:25:00] these different ways. And like you guys have the campus and central plant aspect of this as well, added on to that, the actual work required in any given building to, to compare those two for a given room is so difficult.
Is that sort of like what you mean? As far as the questions being asked, we just don't have the data to support them at this point.
Lincoln Bleveans: Yeah, I think that's, I think that's definitely part of it, but I think I think that the world is asking for information that, that we don't just don't quite generate yet, but I think there, the world is also asking for it in a format that we're just.
Used to provide it. I think the world is asking for information about the world of energy and especially at the more granular levels, like the building level, you know, in, in ways that they, they can understand and consume. And the fact is we've never, that's never really been [00:26:00] part of our RMO before.
It's been talking to ourselves and experts talking to experts and within this energy world bubble all of a sudden we have to talk to everybody else too, and they don't necessarily have the training or the technical skill to understand what they're seeing completely or even to access what they want to see.
And that is that to me, is an emerging challenge because to the extent that we put up. R what do you call it? And star Trek our our force fields against that, to the extent that we, we both adore against that. I think that that's going to be very counterproductive in terms of our, our credibility and our ability to participate in the solution.
That's very, very broad brush, but that's a, that's a perspective that I see developing over the next few years. We simply, can't keep the [00:27:00] barn doors closed anymore. We've got to open them up and, but we've also got to get in there and make sure that everything's ready for public consumption.
James Dice: Fascinating. So let's, let's zoom back out a little bit to overall energy goals. Where is Stanford? What's their target as a campus? What are you guys trying to hit? And by what.
Lincoln Bleveans: Right now, we're, we're targeted at net zero by 2050. that's where we are right now. I think that's where a lot of institutions and corporates and country.
R right now. There isn't a whole lot of definition around that yet. That's something that I feel that we need to, we really need to start to find it, but I think it's good to have that macro endpoint and then we can both work backwards and get more granular as we go. And I think there, there are two big components to that to actually meeting that.
One of course is behavior, [00:28:00] which is not quite the subject of this discussion, but is, is, is absolutely crucial. But then there's the technology and I think there's going to be, or, you know, again, we're right at the right at the beginning of a very big, you know, tsunami wave of technology that is going to help us meet that.
James Dice: Cool.
Yeah. So I guess my up question there was, what's the sort of roadmap to get there, but it sounds like maybe that's, you're still on the sort of defining phase.
Lincoln Bleveans: To a certain extent. And you know, I I'll, I'll give a shout out to our latest sustainability, your review, which is on the Stanford website, beautiful piece of work from our office of sustainability talks a lot about what we're doing from a renewable energy standpoint.
We're going to be a hundred percent renewable energy by well, depending on supply chain issues by the middle of next year at the latest, but also looking at fleet electrification [00:29:00] about electric vehicle chargers about, you know, as Jerry, Jerry mentioned, you know, energy efficiency, a lot of the low-hanging fruit is not there anymore.
How do we take that to the next step? So there's, there's a lot. And then when we look at, you know, scope one scope, two of it, we've got those pretty well sorted, but then there's this giant and incredibly impactful world of scope three emissions and. Stanford, like the rest of the planet is, is really figuring out in real time.
How do we, what are they, how do we measure them? How do we do something about them? How does our behavior need to change and, or technology need to change in order to bring those down to sustainable levels. So, yeah, it's a lot of insomnia right now trying to figure this stuff out. And but you know, you look at the folks on Jerry's team, absolutely.
At the cutting edge of, of trying to make this happen at the building level.
James Dice: That's an
important point. So when Stanford has a net zero by [00:30:00] 2050 goal, they mean scope one, two and three. Whereas we say, and usually in the building's world, we're talking about scope one and two, right? When we say net zero building, usually we're talking about John, the boundary around.
You know, one and two. So Jerry, is that how you're thinking about this? H how do you think about what needs to happen from an energy and, you know, operation standpoint to get to that target?
Gerry Hamilton: Really fortunate. We've already electrified the, you know, the thermal processes that our central energy facilities.
So for our main campus, 90 plus percent of our heating energy is already coming from electricity for our buildings, heat recovery, chillers, or how does that? Yes, we have the heat recovery chillers that are moving waste heat from our chilled water loop into a new, relatively new since 2015, a low temperature heating hot water loop that goes to the buildings.
And that's, that's great. That was a major achievement. The central energy facility came online [00:31:00] in 2015. So from a steam distribution system and steam receiving buildings to low temperature, hot water, but like anything it's what have you done for me lately? And so we want to go to that, that next step 15 informal program that we call them.
10% because we eliminated 90% of our main campus scope one and two greenhouse gas emissions. So how do we get that last 10%? Which means we've got to come up with means to electrify periphery buildings that aren't tied into our central plant system. Things that, you know, going back 10 years ago were too expensive to convert.
Well, let's look at them again. How has technology changed? How can technology we use to reduce costs, taking a fresh look at what is the cost of carbon, for example, Interestingly, there's less pressure on me now for energy efficiency on the demand side and more pressure on [00:32:00] making the buildings smarter.
For example, our central energy facility as the first of its kind optimization engine running on it. And it's constantly forecasting out hourly dispatch model. Over a seven day, a four looking horizon and it's updating every 15 minutes. So it can optimize for load. It can optimize for costs and a number of other variables.
You can take equipment out of service and it'll recalculate. We need to build into that same level of smartness, such that I have a model for every building. What is it's hourly electric, chilled water, hot water demand going to be. And on top of that, I need to model what my demand side management measures are.
So it's kind of a combination of energy, temporary energy efficiency, temporary demand response. But when you think demand response, the industry has been electric. We're looking beyond just instantaneous electric load is [00:33:00] if I make an impact to the HVAC system at the building level, how's that going to impact the total campus?
Our central energy facility has. Significant amounts of thermal energy storage, both for hot water and for chilled water. So if I save something on what I think is peak peak cooling, it doesn't affect anything at the central plant because the chillers aren't running because we're running off of storage.
So suddenly we have the model over a 24, 48 hour period. And what's the impact of the building over that period. What's the impact to the central plant. So my demand side management work got a whole lot more complicated. I've got job security here. We look at things like return temperature coming from the buildings.
How well are the buildings utilizing the chilled water in the hot water? Are the buildings drawing out as much energy as possible? That improves operation of the campus as a whole, even though the absolute is being consumed, doesn't change. [00:34:00] And if we factor in these indoor air quality concerns that you alluded to James about.
Are there situations we're going to have to increase ventilation and are we going to have to increase air flow? And yes, we probably will. And we'll deploy technology to assess that and to you know, measure what is the appropriate amount and when, and I'm fine with that because that technology is also going to help us identify where we're currently over ventilating.
And I think those opportunities to reduce ventilation will greatly exceed the areas where we need some more. Also, as I mentioned before, I want this smart discussion to get beyond. So if my operations team partners, if my resiliency program management team says, we've got a real issue in X, Y, Z buildings, we need some more air flow or we're concerned about particulate matter because of the location of the air and lift.
We want to fix that. And we don't want [00:35:00] energy to be perceived as a reason, not to do the right thing because in the end we manage these buildings. Well, this campus is going to use less energy and obviously anything that's still burning natural gas on campus. It's going to get special attention, right? So we know you like this old gas, hot water heater.
What if we put in a new electric, hot water heater and some new technology, it's going to be better than it was before on any, any account. Right? So sometimes you get the little sweetener in there. And technology helps, right? You couldn't monitor this old tank, but now you can monitor this one. So
James Dice: I want to circle back on what you said.
You're in the last 10%. What was the path to get here from a technology standpoint, to the fact where you decarbonize to 90% scope one and two, what were the different technologies that had to happen
Gerry Hamilton: to? If you look over about a 10 year period, we went after, you know, the big energy consumers started even before I was here and we called them [00:36:00] the dirty does.
So we did a study of the top dwelled energy consuming buildings is started all the way back in 2004. And we developed a capital program to go after the, the, the biggest energy consuming buildings and those 24 bill, those 12 turned into 24. We've got some more fun. And over about a 15 year period, we knocked out 24 to 30 large capital projects, which we're seeing 20 to 30% energy savings per project and even more.
And so that definitely moved the needle. We implemented new construction standards that are pretty common folks do that. So we've got our energy use per square foot trending down into areas that we were comfortable with. Then we looked at this heat recovery possibility. What if we converted the campus from steam and really address our energy use from a supply side, which is a radical way of looking at what if we changed the way we are procuring, manipulate, and [00:37:00] supply and energy to our buildings, with the benefit of saving a lot of energy and saving a lot of carbon.
So that was the big emphasis from about 2010 through 2015. With an meantime, we were also electrifying our fleet. We were looking at other means to reduce carbon, you know, just strictly measuring carbon, not just energy. So a combination of these factors have gotten us to where we are today. The nice thing that happened in parallel with electrifying our central plant is that our ability to procure renewable energy through power purchase agreements and highly affordable prices came to fruition much faster than we thought.
We knew that we wanted to be able to procure an electric portfolio. And we knew at some point in the future, the costs would come down. We just know it, come down this quick. And so that's why within a few months, the next, this next calendar. We should be able to say that all of our electric purchases for our campus are renewable.
And [00:38:00] I didn't see that happening 10 years ago. Right. I had several of my staff was like, what are we going to do to, you know, get rid of this fossil fuel power on campus. We were so frustrated. A lot of folks, the wind was out of their sails and it's happened, we're here. So what do we do next? And so we do have to deal with the other scope, two emissions in the, in the scope three, we have some more fleet work to do but a lot of periphery of buildings.
And that's what we look at with, we say the last 10%, it's like, okay, now we can go after the smaller thing, Sanford owns property uh, around north America and even you know, handful of facilities around the bay area that people don't know about them. So they're in our portfolio as well. And what do we do there?
Interestingly, just a few years ago, we built a new administrative campus in Redwood city and it's a pretty good sized campus and it has its own. We call it the mini central energy hub. It's, it's built like the one on main campus with heat recovery chillers, and it works very well there as well. So how do we apply these lessons from main campus to other [00:39:00] facilities?
And we are quite serious about sharing this knowledge with other institutions of higher ed. Any, anyone really operates a campus type environment and how can they use it? And it's not dependent upon our mild Mediterranean climate here. It works in the cold climates that works in the hot climates cause there's always some energy that can be salvaged.
James Dice: So if I can repeat that back to you and this, this journey matches universities that I've had the pleasure of working with as well. So it's, it's essentially metering to understand which buildings use, how much energy to find the energy hogs. Benchmarking. Right. Identifying those top energy hogs, doing pretty well deep retrofits, right?
To bring them down to an acceptable target value. Starting with the end loads. Right? So I think that's a misconception that a lot of people have that I've had this argument a lot of out before you start [00:40:00] with the end loads and, and I'll, I'll take this to my death. You, you start the end loads before looking at the plant.
Now that you've optimized your end loads. Now you go back to the plan and you say, okay, now that we've curtailed and minimized the loads out in the space, what are our actual plant needs? And then what you guys have done is I think taken it a step further and said, okay, well, how can we actually decarbonize that?
Source as well, which is fascinating. And if I put this entire conversation so far together, it sounds like the next phase is kind of a rolling into making sure you have controls everywhere, digitizing everything, getting the right sensors in place. And then kind of moving into the maintenance phase.
You're talking about the peripheral buildings, the last 10% as well, but for the 90 that the rest of the buildings, it sounds like it's you know, moving into FDD, you said ongoing commissioning, right? Getting the tools in the hands of all the operators and the O and M staff really getting them on board to keep the buildings where they should be at.
Is [00:41:00] that kind of what I'm hearing?
Gerry Hamilton: Yes. The technology will be able to squeeze some more energy savings out and we do need to see cost savings in other areas. So we want to get that technology applied there. The latest buzz word is resilient. And how do we make our spaces resilient at the building level, at the room level?
So that's giving us a mission to look at, and that includes air quality includes anything related to safety and occupant experience. So we're going to have some fun there.
What do you mean by resiliency and how does it relate to things like air quality,
more metrics to quantify what resilience is in buildings? You know, what does it mean to have a healthy space for occupants now obviously particular matter in doc and anything else we could think the measure is important, but there are many practitioners who can tell you what Yeah, the real threshold should be there.
There's, you know, the EPA publishes [00:42:00] levels. But as we know, from operating buildings, you know, metrics are dynamic. They, they fluctuate and even temperature. There's no such thing as a temperature in a room, right? There's a temperature that the thermostat reads. There's a temperature over by the window.
This is the temperature. It feels like sitting next to the window in the afternoon versus the morning. And we've just learned how to work with this. And I think we're going to have the same experience when it comes to measuring BOC and particulate matter. And there could be a small corner in a room that has an unusually high reading, but the room in general could be quite low.
I'm just guessing because we ha we don't have experience with this, but it's an area that we're going to have to explore. And the sooner we can apply technology in a cost effective manner to help us the better we'll be. We don't want to scare people or spook people, but at the same time, There's some way to quantify that this room is above average in terms of air quality hazards.
We want to know that, but we want [00:43:00] to know it. We don't want to just be chasing numbers that come off of a sensor that we implied, that we installed that implies something's wrong, but we don't know if something's wrong.
Lincoln Bleveans: And I, I wanna, I wanna take that a little bit more broadly. You know, it's a lot of people don't realize, or they don't quite put the the, if you're not in the bay area, you don't really quite realize that we are really a living lab.
We call ourselves a living lab at Stanford for a lot of reasons, but being in the bay area makes us a living lab of Brazil, resiliency in so many different ways. You know, we we've always had earthquakes. In fact, if you look at the fault lines running through. The area that we're in it's, it's basically like you're the pinstripes of the achy uniforms.
But so you've always had the earthquakes, but you've also got wildfires. You've got droughts, you've got sea level rise. There is you know, we're, we're at the end [00:44:00] of say the natural gas infrastructure and the petroleum infrastructure for the country being up against the coast. So we have a pretty much, you know, I don't know zombie attack, but pretty much every resiliency risk that you have is present in our area.
And so when you think about resiliency from. A more traditional kind of earthquake centered viewpoint, or you look at everything that's coming at us with climate change. Those are very, very real to us. Those are, those are right there in our neighborhood and that's going to have to, you know, or we're, we're starting to work right now to look at our buildings and say, how do we keep these resilient?
Whether it is air quality from. Airborne pathogens or, or, you know, like COVID to to wildfire [00:45:00] smoke, what's going to happen with sea level rise at our various facilities, for example, you know, some of which like Redwood city, or very close to sea level and very close to the ocean, what do we do about things like electrical supply when we're, you know, on not only on the coast, but on a peninsula?
So we're really, I think we're, you know, at the same time that we're facing a lot of these risks, we're also in a great. Uh, We're, we're very well situated to take a very hard look at these risks and hopefully mitigate them and not just mitigate them for ourselves, but mitigate them in a way that helps the rest of the world mitigate their own risks.
So, but you know, when you think about it, I didn't realize this until I had really spent some time up there, but we really are in, in a laboratory of, of, of resilience. Almost literally almost everything you can think of is, is a clear and present danger in the bay area.
James Dice: Yeah. I didn't think about that either. There's [00:46:00] also the brown outs on the grid as well.
Hey guys, just another quick note from our sponsor Nexus labs. And then we'll get back to the show. This episode is brought to you by nexus foundations, our introductory course on the smart buildings industry. If you're new to the industry, this course is for you. If you're an industry vet, but want to understand how technology is changing things.
This course is also for you. The alumni are raving about the content, which they say pulls it all together, and they also love getting to meet the other students on the weekly zoom calls and in the private chat room, you can find out more about the email@example.com lab. Start online. All right, back to the interview
Yeah. You guys are dealing with everything.
Lincoln Bleveans: Wow.
James Dice: So I think this is a good segue actually into the business case. So, so can we go back to before Lincoln was around Jerry 10 years ago or whatever you guys started down this path?
It sounds like this path has been going on for a long time, but maybe we've got to draw the [00:47:00] line somewhere. How has the business case been made up until today in the past to get to where you are today,
Gerry Hamilton: from an energy perspective, we've always worked on a rule of thumb that we could justify investing energy funds and we operate like a utility on campus.
So we have You can say we've got rate payer funds. So we have always justified, contributing up to five times the equivalent annual energy cost savings as upfront money to a project. And that's pretty significant. That's, that's quite a bit of money, but we deem that it's worth it to the university.
It's worth it to our rate payers for the benefit that it provides. So many of our early projects were paid for using basically utility money that made it pretty easy. We had the funds, we could then fund from the projects. Uh, We've also managed programs. You can call them more like mass market programs where different business entities around the [00:48:00] campus who procure energy from us could approach us with a project.
I want to retrofit a laser in a lab, right? This is a 20 year old laser. And guess what? The new one's used, you know, a 10th of the power or. Let's say I have an ultra low temperature freezer and one of my laboratories, I want to replace it with the new one. That's, you know, four times more efficient. So these sort of mass markets, we dress the small as well as the large lighting retrofits come in all different sizes.
And we want to make sure we don't miss the small ones there. So go to that. Five-year payback threshold. Well, things got interesting. Once we cut through the big bill, right? Because any significant retrofit project, you've got to hire contractors and consultants and they're soft costs and there's internal costs and suddenly five year payback just wasn't quite enough to pay for everything.
So within the past five years, I would say we've developed a real. Great working relationship [00:49:00] with our capital renewal teams, folks who are planning on the 20, 30 year horizon for the building. You know, one of the roof's going to get replaced and one of the HVAC and control systems due for renewal.
And so we work with them and we are still contributing energy funds, but it's, it's really to help steer which projects get a priority. And what we've found is we've got more projects than we can handle right now that have the joint benefit of big energy savings, make the building smarter address a renewal need in the HVAC and automation system.
So we're continuing to plug along. We, we aren't in a situation right now, at least knock on wood that we're not pursuing good bid projects. And I think that was kind of what folks always talked about doing, you know, combining maintenance and energy cost dollars and it is working for us. It's working well.
We haven't monetized. We obviously implied that it's a priority for our last 10% buildings, but we haven't been pushed real hard on what an appropriate [00:50:00] level the spend is. We don't know yet how to put a dollar value to resiliency. But it's very important. So there's a lot of premiums that we've identified that are justified.
We just don't have those metrics yet, James, but um, I'm looking forward to, that's one of the things that we do, I'm very proud of the energy programs we work. We know what the total life cycle costs are for the measures. They're very cost effective. And I think the university likes to be fiscally pragmatic, and I think we will continue to do so, but I think in the coming years, we will be in a situation where we can publish the material costs for carbon, and we can put some tangible costs to safety and risk avoidance, things like that.
So I think that's going to be in the coming years and that'll be fun. Oh, so
James Dice: how, how have you made the transition from energy only ROI to energy and operational costs our lives? How, how have you put numbers to that
Gerry Hamilton: side of things? Well, we're still trying to get some good numbers there. I don't, I don't have the magic [00:51:00] formula right now.
Other than we've stepped back a little bit from energy is the energy pushing, pushing, pushing. It's like, well, it looks like we've got, there's probably a half dozen buildings that would be good candidates to feed into our retrofit pipeline that aren't currently getting attention. This is what the energy value is for each of those.
And then we stepped back and this allows some, the, for example, our preventative maintenance program manager. Hmm say, wait, no, this one's really been a pain. I want to address that one subject or someone in our environmental health and safety team. So you can say, you know what, we've been studying this building.
We've got some really constraint concerns about X, Y, and Z, because we really can't see what's going on in that space. Okay. Well, that's fine too. So really letting others voice their interests and their, and their concerns. And if it's worth it to them, they can contribute their funds. So, definitely emerging area to say, you know, what, [00:52:00] what is the cost per unit safety improvement?
I don't know, but I think we're going to get there, you know, what's the cost per unit of perceived maintenance savings, right? If we retrofit a building and we think we'll have to spend fewer hours per year doing reactive calls to zone level HVAC systems, How do we verify that that would have figured it out, right.
We know what the baseline is and how do we know what it's going to be in the future. The other thing is when we put new technology in, you find things that you didn't see before. And does the technology get dinged for that? Is it the technology's fault? Now you can see problems that you didn't see before.
And that's my analogy. It's kinda like a CD. What do you want to know? Do you want to see the mice in your pantry at home? Or would you rather not know they're there because I'll show them to you, but then imagine the stress you're going to have once, you know, they're there. Cause what are you going to do about it?
Right. Same sort of, sort of thing. If we've moved beyond that, sometimes I'm scared to show folks and senior management, our fault [00:53:00] detection diagnosis. Yes, because when you look at it, there's thousands of faults that are there, they're there currently involved. And if you haven't worked with it, you're not a practitioner.
You would panic and think this is absolute failure. We look at it more like the faults themselves or the metric. How many faults per building per year do you have, right? Or which faults are recurring. And that becomes data in and of itself just like kilowatt hours per year, you know, active faults on average per month.
Oh, we went from 500 to 300, right. This building is doing great. And you just got to make sure if somebody looks at it the first time, they don't say, why do you have 300 faults? You guys are terrible.
James Dice: And I want to circle back on that real quick, but Lincoln, I wanted to hit you with. With the net zero by 2050 with the resilience focus with, we've got to get the students back into, on campus.
Right. We've got to tell them about their [00:54:00] indoor air quality. How, how do you see the business case changing over time? And, and maybe changing today versus that what Jerry just described on how it's been done and being done right now?
Lincoln Bleveans: I think the jury is still out on a big part of it. I look at the mission of the university and I see, you know, research and teaching.
I, my impression is, and I use that word very intentionally. My impression is that the world of research hasn't changed that much, that it's still human beings interacting, maybe not coming to labs, but interacting with. In large part. And so that physical, the physical presence on with physical infrastructure is still somewhat important.
I may be proved wrong about that. And I want to leave that possibility of wide open. I think, where it really [00:55:00] gets interesting is the, the education component of it, the teaching component of it. My impression is that the Stanford and the world is really at the very, very beginning of figuring out what a, a post COVID zoom, inclusive education.
It looks like. I actually think, and you look at the great dislocations in history, whether it be war or disease or technological innovation over the last couple thousand years, it takes a while for these things to work their way through the system. And I feel like both with the post pandemic or hopefully nearly post pandemic world that we live in, but also this incredible technology that we're using right now to create, to, to interact with [00:56:00] each other visually over extraordinary distances in real time is I think that's going to have to work its way through the system.
I think the world of work obviously is changing in ways that we wouldn't necessarily have predicted and it's going to continue to change in ways that we still can't predict. And I think that's the same thing for teaching. And then for us, we then look at our. Our university environment, which has been growing, but more or less under the same assumptions for a century, those assumptions are changing.
And so what does that start looking like? How does that evolve? Is there a new normal or, or stasis now just impossible and it's just constant transformation. What does that mean for buildings? What does that mean for the way the buildings are used? How often they're used, how, what does [00:57:00] that mean for cost allocation and thus what you can do, what you want to do with buildings?
Where do we, I, I, I would love for, to have some answers on that, but I think the, the smartest answer is a very curious version of, we don't know. And we just have to be ready. I look back at, somebody asked me what the size of the energy storage work. It would be a couple of days ago. And I said, it's going to be huge.
And she said, well, you've got to have a number. And I said, yeah, a lot of people have numbers in the same way that, you know, back in 1910, people had numbers about how big the automobile automobile industry would be. Or in 1980, we had ideas about how big the PC industry would be. Everybody's wrong. We just know it's going to be huge.
And that's how I look at this transformation that we're undergoing is that we simply don't know. We have to embrace the fact that we don't know. And, but we do know that it's going to be huge, a huge [00:58:00] transformation. So when that, when we, when we bring that back to reality for what we're doing at Stanford and specifically what we're doing in buildings, I think the time right now is absolutely crucial to be, to have as many eyes and ears out into the marketplace as possible in terms of what's possible as many eyes and ears tuned towards our customers to see what they need and what they think their needs are going forward.
And ultimately it's less about the technology and more about the human beings. And that's where we're so blessed that I'll give a shout out to Jerry, even though I'm embarrassed, having people like Jerry and his staff, it's really the people who are going to solve. Solve all of this with technology. And so having the best team, empowering the best team, equipping the best team, that's how we jumped this chasm.
It's [00:59:00] with people, people using technology but people first and foremost so I I'll get off my soap box, but that's, I think we are at the, at the front end of an extraordinary change. And it is the people who will figure this out using technology as opposed to the other way round.
James Dice: Fascinating. All right.
Let's end this not so fast, but I want to do to kind of like rapid fire rounds. So one is looking forward, maybe what are the top three to five things you're working on right now and specifically technologies or you're trying to implement either. A new tech or a new technology that you're just trying to get the people's side.
Right. That's okay. W we, we, we understand that it's flashy things are only as cool as the operational processes that they're implemented into. Um, So what are the top three to five, and then we'll do another rapid fire round after that. But [01:00:00] what, what what's, what's the top technologies that you're thinking about right now?
Lincoln Bleveans: from my viewpoint, we're looking at a couple of really interesting challenges. One is how do we maintain electric, reliability and resilience from the grid level, all the way down to the building level in a decarbonized world, we can't rely on, I don't think on, on backup generators at the campus level.
I think we have to look at a world where our, the little diesel gen, gen gen sets that the buildings are going to have to start to go away. So, but how do we maintain reliability and resilience beyond those technologies beyond carbon based technologies? That's a huge challenge. I think the other part of that though, is a recognition, especially in California, that the world of reliability itself and resilience itself is going to change.
And therefore at the building level, [01:01:00] We need to figure out how to, you know, I described a building very common building where you've got an office and then a physics lab and then a classroom. How do we organize our energy, our crucial energy supplies, such that if there is a curtailment or brown out, say on the California grid, we can keep the lab going while shutting down the office and the classroom.
So how do we get. Not just super granular in terms of understanding what's going on in those buildings, which were in those physical rooms, those spaces we've talked a lot about today, but also how do we understand? And then automate responses to external stimuli, like pronouns, such that we can maintain the mission of the university under, as as broad a range of circumstances as possible.
So those are two [01:02:00] things that, that, that I'm thinking about from a broader perspective.
Gerry Hamilton: There's so many things. Number one is data management in general. Really like to see the piloting and testing work we're doing related to automatic data error recognition, and automatic there that a correction in dead air, meaning you lose an instrument for a while or the it comes go down or it goes out of calibration or whatever.
There's a dozen different things that can happen. And then automatic correction. And that's going to make it so much easier for the analytics tools to operate easily. On top of that require less human interaction also is going to make it much easier to share the data. So there's folks who get, can use the data.
They don't have to clean the data if they can trust the data. So that's a big area. The other area that like to make some progress is really making sense of. Internet of things, devices, you know, what does that mean to have devices that we can deploy on mass in buildings have a [01:03:00] dedicated network that they can plug into?
You know, what some, some flavor of wireless, like I don't know, right. And work with our it partners to figure out what that is. I want to see a future where we can rapidly deploy smart devices as our occupants want them right. Based on their ability to absorb that information. I'm a customer as well. Our HVAC, team's a customer as well and create a culture where if I want to see an instrument in a building, it doesn't have to go through the HVAC system or the lighting system or the metering system.
It can if it adds value, but if it doesn't add value, That just makes it harder for the people who run the HVAC system. And it just makes it harder for the folks who manage the data connection to that HVAC system, which then creates bottlenecks and can lead to resentment amongst staff, right? It's like, how come these HVAC people can't give you this data.
They must not like you. And that's not the case. It's just not their job. So how can internet of things really release some people [01:04:00] from some burdens, right? And then share some data. But at the same time people got to go to let go. So that's a real exciting one. And then the other area that we're investing effort right now is.
I guess you could call it system integration, but not just like HVAC in light, we're talking ERP system integration and CMMS and space management and planning. How can we share data across these systems to make meaningful impacts? And I think COVID has provided a little insight here is what if we all look at the room level, what does that room mean to us?
If we manage HVAC, I've got a VAV box and an air handler and utilities, I got hierarchy, but if I'm responsible for the, the health of occupants in that building, I need to know, you know, who are they or do they have higher risk? What are they higher risk of? W when are they, they're one of the risks there?
Is there hazardous equipment in that space? What does the operating schedule in that space look like and what I'm quite on [01:05:00] critical.
James Dice: Like a Lincoln said, yeah. Is it a lab? Is it an office? Is it,
Gerry Hamilton: is the lab next to the office? And I think we have more in common than, than we know. And so we've talked a lot about it's all about the people.
And I think the circle of people has got to get bigger and so that we can see there's this common overlap. And then yeah, HVAC, we can give a little information here and we can pull a little information out of the the call center. If you want to know the history of calls that come out of there, and we're going to, we can talk to the space, planning people to figure out where their, where their bottlenecks are.
And we can deploy some internet of things, devices that can monitor, you know, space traffic. And maybe I just want to know, is it occupied or not with a high level of certainty, other folks want to know, okay, how many people walk through there? When did they walk through there? Same time. Did they go to the same area?
That room? So just what are these next small basic use cases that we can build upon? So, yeah, data [01:06:00] management, IOT devices, and getting really, really smart about our individual spaces. And I think the technology exists and of course, that's going to. BIM modeling and you know,
better. So whatever you want to call them, that promised functionality that you get from those is where we want to go next.
James Dice: Yeah. There's like a, it seems like there's a Stanford ontology project coming up. Well, I think, I think this audience would like to see you piggyback and contribute onto one of the existing ones, but maybe you'll have your own at some point as well.
Cool. That's fascinating. All right. Final, rapid fire round. So we can end on time here. Let's talk about three lessons. And so between the two of you, you get three, three lessons that other universities slash building owners can learn from. And I think I want to pick one that I can call on you for Jerry, which is you're talking about [01:07:00] the operations, the ONM sort of digitizing those processes.
Can you sort of pick out a lessons, learned a lesson learned there that other people can learn from
Gerry Hamilton: the best use cases are so simple that people are even afraid to mention them. We've been at this for multiple years and. I think people are just embarrassed to say what they really want and maybe they won't even tell it to themselves.
So I will give you two examples of conversation. I had last Friday with our preventative maintenance program manager and we were scratching our heads, trying to think of the next great analytics thing. And he says, I got to go because I got to go check out this water system problem in this lab. I will tell me about that.
And we started talking about it was how come we don't have smarts on these DIY water systems? It sounds like that's a common headache. Well, I don't know. I just never really thought about it. We just, we deal with it because somebody calls and complaints and we'd go out and look at right. And we had a similar conversation a few weeks [01:08:00] before related to our air compressors.
And some of these have a little bit of remote telemetry, but the point being is you've really got to peel the layers back. If you want to find something really, really smart, you're wasting your time until you address the things that are really, really not smart because that's, what's going to do. The people, and again, I'm not going after the DEI water systems because they're not saving energy.
Right. Maybe they can save some water. And so they never were on my radar screen. And
James Dice: but if you free that guy up, maybe he can then spend his time. Well, you're
Gerry Hamilton: darn right. And if I can free up a few plumbers, HVAC techs, guess what? They may start paying more attention to my return temperature optimization needs.
So yeah, you gotta make sure that you're peeling the onion back as far as you can on the maintenance side, because there's stuff there. It's not going to be obvious even after years of looking.
James Dice: Yeah. So that's why we, so I teach a course on smart buildings technology, and we don't get to new technology until four weeks [01:09:00] into the course.
So we teach, you know, basically a lot of this conversation maps pretty well to it, but we start with people's workflows, right? That's where you look like, what are you doing today? And where are the opportunities to improve upon that? Um, All right. Lincoln, what do you think, w what are your lessons learned or,
Gerry Hamilton: or one lessons learned?
Lincoln Bleveans: Well, I'm going to, I'm going to piggyback off of Jerry. You know, if you unpack what he just said, you've got two very smart, very knowledgeable, very deeply committed people talking to each other and solving problems. And that to me is what gets lost in a lot of this. You know, it comes back to the people, you know, that the technology is enabling for the people, but unless you have people like Jerry and people like Jerry's team working and committed to these problems and interacting with each other in an environment of psychological [01:10:00] safety where Jerry can say, well, do you have a sensor on that?
Diana has water equipment. Well, gosh, no. Let me think about that. You, you have the, you have that interaction. You have the, these incredibly high quality people and you have the safety to not only. Ask what seemed like stupid questions, but also be able to ask, as Jerry was saying the questions that are so obvious that maybe people don't even think to ask them.
That's that to me is a huge lesson learned in this whole process.
James Dice: Absolutely.
Gerry Hamilton: the other lesson learned is smart tech that develops in silos stalls out really quick. So together because I may have an analytics system works great for what I need.
I'm done. Thank you very much. See you later, go back to what I do. If everybody did that, there is going to reach a point where these things become mutually exclusive. This brings up your it partners as well at the [01:11:00] end of the day, there's somebody in it and it's got to support all these. And maybe there's multiple branches of it, but it rolls up at some point.
And at some point, people don't realize we're burning a bunch of hours trying to support 10 different things that all call themselves analytics, right. Or I'll call themselves a dashboard. Now you don't all need to have the exact same tool, but you gotta make sure these tools aren't fighting one another.
So another reason maybe you're a techie, but you better get together with some people because your techies next door, they're probably working on very similar things. Maybe they call it tomato, you call it tomato. But if you want to have some legs to what you're doing make sure you're not conflicting and make sure you're not overburdening your shared resource.
And you might not know what that shared resources but there'll be aware of. Absolutely.
James Dice: Yeah. And I feel like most organizations get to that point where they're like, okay, we have too many siloed initiatives. Let's take a step back. What's our architecture look like here that enables this long-term
Gerry Hamilton: we just went in to tap onto that is [01:12:00] if you've got a good infrastructure, you can create all the API as you want to call it.
Right. So they could have a limitless number of dashboards all going after the same data. So it again, it's the R how are you approaching this? If you want customized dashboards, that's fine, but let's not make this one person in the middle. You have to do 10 things. Let them have the one thing that can support all.
James Dice: it sounds like a fruitful partnership with the it folks. Well, cool. It's a great place to end up. Thanks so much for, for coming on. Jerry, you were a last minute addition to the conversation, so thanks for coming on and doing the Lincoln and I it's great to have these two different perspectives, so thank you so much.
James Dice: All right friends, thanks for listening to this episode of the Nexus Podcast. For more episodes like this and to get the weekly Nexus Newsletter, which by the way, readers have said is the best way to stay up to date on the future of the smart building industry, please subscribe at nexuslabs.online. You can find the show notes for this conversation there as well. Have a [01:13:00] great day.