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EMAIL INTERVIEW – Joseph Bocchiaro and Ken Sinclair
Joseph Bocchiaro III, CStd, CTS-D, CTS-I, ISF-C, Principal Consultant, The Sextant Group
Bocchiaro has worked in the technology side of building design and
systems integration for over 30 years, primarily with audiovisual/IT
systems. As a Principal Consultant for The Sextant Group, a nationwide
building technology consulting firm, he is privileged to work with
clients such as architects and owners towards sophisticated building
technology implementations. Joe holds degrees in Electro-Optical
Engineering, Film Studies, Media Studies, and Educational Technology,
and is an active global presenter and author. His enthusiasm for
sustainability parallels his lifelong involvement with Boy Scouts of
we understand you are to be the Keynote Speaker at the Smart Commercial
Buildings Conference. What has been your passion in the Smart Building
I think that a lifelong interest in sustainability collided at some
point with my professional career, and that I found it to be an
intriguing and useful place to be. That sustainability and conservation
mindset came from my path to becoming an Eagle Scout. I have been in
the audiovisual industry for over 30 years, with many years of study
and practice before that. That industry has been rapidly converging
with IT and now they are nearly indistinguishable. About 12 years ago,
as LEED was taking hold, I was on green building design teams and
realized I had nothing to offer from my professional disciplines. It
was all about energy and water efficiency, heating and cooling, and
materials. Ever since then, I have been working in a variety of ways to
bring technology into the conversation of sustainable building design
and operations. The arena of smart buildings is where all of this is
happening, somewhat in a “wild west” manner. I have been fortunate that
a lot of people in AV/IT are also interested in this, and it has been
great to network with them and work on tangible projects.
Sinclair: What kind of projects are you referring to?
are too many to mention them all. For ten years I worked in the
standards development field, and had the responsibility to launch and
run research and standards development projects. Audiovisual Systems
Energy Management, Sustainable Events Management, EnergyStar for
audiovisual systems, Unified Automation for Buildings, Sustainable
Technology Environments Program, and many others. These were programs
in a variety of government agencies, trade associations, and
professional societies across many fields.
Sinclair: Was there a common thread in all of these initiatives?
the one hand, yes, the commonality is in the nature of the programs;
architecture, technology, performance, operations, and the role of
people in each of them. On the other hand, the frustrating part is that
there are so very many types of companies and organizations involved
with their own pieces of the puzzle. It is the puzzle itself that has
to be solved, and it is much more than the sum of its parts, or in this
case, the siloed industries that are the stakeholders. The puzzle is
the intelligent building, which by its nature must be an elegantly
harmonized cocoon for its inhabitants.
Sinclair: How can this be changed?
change is happening, but it has been in fits and starts. The
overarching politicization of the science of climate change and the
financial returns for smart buildings have been parallel conversations.
The motivations from the economic side are self-evident, but the
sleeping giant is the potential clamor for change that comes from a
populace that is now politically free to accept the inevitability of-
dare I say it- global warming. As a loosely-connected growing industry,
smart buildings practitioners have the foundations to make a
greatly-expanded impact. The demand has to be there though, and the
demand for change has to come from the building occupants themselves I
think. This is a people issue as much as the building operators that
have to learn to adapt to and trust in the technology.
Sinclair: What do smart building stakeholders have to do to prepare?
are already rapidly advancing the technology in every aspect of
buildings. Now it’s the people issues that have to come from within us.
We have to be willing to give up our traditional roles and fiefdoms in
our silos. We have to collaborate to create interoperability and
security standards so that we have a basis for trusting each other. We
have to learn each other’s technical language so there is common
ground. And we have to be willing to allow architects and technology
consultants to organize the synergistic designs. They in turn have to
craft specifications with the integrity to allow the responsibility of
single points of contact for the integration of the systems. We have to
continue to create great examples of successful smart buildings to hold
up as examples to the naysayers. As a technology designer, I have to
follow my own advice and see the big picture while sweating the details
to get buildings built. We have to learn how to work together, and to
believe that this cooperation will be both lucrative and lead to a
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