Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Q1 Networking Event Recap

Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Q1 Networking Event Recap

Driving Innovation, Efficiency, & Performance in the Built Environment

Kicking off 2018, Prospect Silicon Valley’s first networking event of the year brought record attendance to discuss the topic of energy innovation in buildings. Collaborating with Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, the US Green Buildings Council and Carnegie Mellon University, the event, which included a welcome from the City of Fremont, panel discussion, networking opportunity, and tour of Delta Electronic’s LEED Platinum building, brought multiple perspectives from the research, real estate, and public-sector communities. Moderated by Amul Sathe, Director at Navigant, he questioned the panelists about topics ranging from energy efficiency in old buildings to the barriers of implementing new technology. The panel concluded that in order to advance energy efficiency, building technologies need to be integrated together into an operationally succinct system.

Panelist Zachary Brown, Director of Energy and Sustainability at CBRE, mentioned that although sustainability efforts were originally focused on recycling and composting, they have evolved to include efficiency certifications and are now energy based. This shift has been a major development for the industry and allows for opportunities in product innovation. In the last 3-5 years there has been a great pick up of new technology as well as ways to record and interpret data. Dr. Burku Akinci, Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, added to the conversation by mentioning that predicting failures and efficiencies are an important advancement to the industry. We need to see actionable insights to further our energy improvements.

When asked about the barriers to implementing new technology, the panel mentioned that cost, security, and backlogs make it hard for building owners to buy into these systems. “As a researcher, we see problems with backlogs, budgets,” said Dr. Akinci, “as well as different budget models and stringent conditions.” Additionally, Dr. Akinci mentioned they’re trying to figure out human behavior. “As soon as we put the people in, all the weird scenarios happen.” Ideally the technology can interact with both the building and real-world experiences so the ZNE actually becomes ZNE.

Rich Brown, Research Scientist at LBNL, put a capstone on the conversation by articulating the importance of integrated system technology. “All systems need to be married together,” continuing to mention, “they need to be operated and maintained together.” In the future, business districts and residential blocks might even have the tools to share energy, therefore integrating larger energy systems.

Overall, we’re seeing strong progress in the adoption of new building technologies. In the last year alone there’s been a major uptick in the interest from building owners, cities, and private companies. Here at ProspectSV, an innovation hub for emerging technology, we’re proud to be working with start-ups and organizations to help take their product to market. We’ve been instrumental in bridging technology with pilot programs and limited deployments – and we’re not stopping there! We’ve also done several “Call for Innovators” to receive submissions for inclusion in CEC grant funded retrofit projects. The road to innovation is never ending, so we’re here to facilitate the journey and reshape the urban landscapes of our communities.




Event Co-Sponsors:

Prospect Silicon Valley
Carnegie Mellon University’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Energy Technologies Area
Northern California community of the US Green Building Council


Introduction by:

Christina Briggs
Economic Development Deputy Director for the City of Fremont

Christina Briggs is a champion of economic development and redevelopment for city governments. For nearly 15 years, she has led efforts in business recruitment, business retention, and job development strategies and has managed mixed-use, retail, and hotel development projects. She also provides economic health analysis, including development of industry cluster strategies for clean technology, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing. Christina takes particular pride in serving as an interface between business and government and has led several “win win” collaborations in the development/permitting process and other public/private partnerships.

Christina is the public sector co-chair of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Northern California P3 committee, a member of the Urban Land Institute, the Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, and a founding member of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Roundtable.

She received her B.A. in Language Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her Master of Public Administration degree from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.


Panel Moderator:

Amul Sathe
Director, Navigant

Amul Sathe is a Director in the Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management Group within Navigant’s Energy Practice. Amul focuses on energy efficiency programs, policies, and technologies for utilities, governmental agencies, and manufacturers, as well as the water-energy nexus. Amul brings a strong understanding of energy and water efficiency technologies and markets to lead project teams.

Amul has developed and overseen the development of multiple energy efficiency forecasting models tailored for specific client’s needs. These models have included detailed analysis of trending energy efficiency topics such as: LED technologies, market transformation programs, zero net energy buildings, codes and standards savings, and emerging technology risk just to name a few.



Dr. Burcu Akinci
Paul Christiano Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Associate Dean for Research at the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Burcu Akinci is the Paul Christiano Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Associate Dean for Research at the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. She also co-directs Smart Infrastructure Institute which conducts research on data-driven awareness about infrastructure systems, advanced information models and visualization approaches, and proactive decision support.

Dr. Akinci’s research interests modeling and reasoning about information rich histories of buildings and infrastructure systems, to streamline construction and infrastructure operations and management. She specifically focuses on investigating utilization and integration of building information models with data capture technologies, such as 3D imaging and embedded sensors to capture semantically-rich as-built histories of construction projects and infrastructure operations and to support proactive operations and management.


Rich Brown
Research Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Rich Brown is a research scientist in the Building Technologies and Urban Systems Division, where he has conducted research on energy use in buildings for over 20 years. He leads a team that is working to understand and develop solutions to address the growing energy use of electronics and miscellaneous equipment in buildings. His research interests include energy efficient digital networks, extreme efficiency in off-grid applications, data centers, and field monitoring of miscellaneous equipment in buildings. He leads LBNL’s technical support to the EPA Energy Star product labeling program. He holds an M.A. degree from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California at Berkeley, and a B.S.E. in Engineering and Management Systems from Princeton University.


Zachary Brown
Director of Energy and Sustainability at CBRE

It all started with an organic compost compactor for Zachary Brown. Upon being hired to the Property Management Team at San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building in 2006, the responsibility of training the staff on proper composting procedure fell squarely on his shoulders. The challenge sparked his interest the sustainability component of commercial real estate. Five years later, Zachary made the move to CBRE Asset Services group as a dedicated Sustainability Manager for a national strategic account.

Now the Director of Energy and Sustainability for the same client under the CBRE Asset Services group, Zachary manages all sustainable real estate initiatives and reporting, ultimately serving as the conduit between the ownership and the managers operating each asset. In addition to creating quarterly reports on resource conservation activities, Zachary monitors local and state energy benchmarking and disclosure laws, reviews products and services for portfolio-wide implementation, oversees third party certifications such as ENERGY STAR and LEED, and directly manages the annual Green Real Estate Sustainability Benchmarking (GRESB) assessments for multiple client funds.

In addition to his duties for CBRE, Zachary is an active member of his local San Francisco BOMA chapter as the current chair of the Energy and Environment Committee.

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