Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Ralf VonSosen and Ken Sinclair
Ralf VonSosen, VP of Marketing, Lucid
Lucid's VP of Marketing, Ralf leads product marketing, demand
generation , branding and communications activities. With almost 20
years in the technology space, Ralf brings leadership experience from
small startups as well as large companies such as SAP and LinkedIn. He
was instrumental in establishing the energy/utilities vertical and
Siebel/Oracle CRM and most recently was a founding member of LinkedIn's
sales solutions business unit. Ralf holds a B.S. in Finance from
Brigham Young University and a MBA from the University of Utah.
Why is benchmarking growing in importance for commercial buildings?
People spend 90% of their lives in buildings, which are responsible for the consumption of two-thirds of all generated electricity. By taking simple efficiency measures, it’s possible for all building owners and operators to reduce energy use by 30%. Of course reducing that energy use is good for the environment, but building operators also need to make the case to their superiors and investors that energy reduction is good for the bottom line. Benchmarking is the fastest way to make that case. By showing how inefficient energy use translates into high costs, energy and sustainability managers can arm themselves with compelling cost information to communicate with other stakeholders about energy expenditures. When they speak the same language as other building constituents, they can make more informed decisions and take steps to make buildings more sustainable, more cost-effective for owners and more attractive to investors and tenants.
Sinclair: What benchmarking options have been available in the industry to date?
Until now benchmarking options haven’t seen wide adoption for a few reasons: datasets were limited, data wasn’t easy for the general public to access and ingest, and the information was primarily geared toward niche experts rather than providing cost detail for business minded audiences. To the first point, a couple of vendors have created their own calculators that are easy to use but they don’t provide a complete picture; they only pull from a small subset of the vendor’s customer base, which renders the findings incomplete and useless. Conversely, building practitioners could gain access to massive amounts of data housed in the incredibly thorough government databases such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star Target Finder and the. U.S. DOE Building Performance Database, but to do so would require quite a bit of sifting, sorting, and industry knowledge to distil into shareable content. Moreover, while comprehensive, the government offerings such as Energy Star scores often provide an arbitrary number without any comparisons for context, and they don’t prioritize cost information. They provide technical details that are geared toward skilled engineers, which makes the content difficult to translate into the language of dollars for business and investor audiences
Sinclair: How did you work with the Department of Energy, EnergyStar, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to take benchmarking to the next level?
Last year, Lucid was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to pursue innovative ways to improve commercial building performance. Through that initiative, Lucid teamed with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to put the grant dollars to work for the general public. BenchmarkMyBuilding is the result of these efforts.
BenchmarkMyBuilding removes the barriers I mentioned earlier, making accurate energy cost comparisons available to all building constituents. It’s free, and vendor agnostic, so there is no need to rely on one vendor’s data to make the data relevant. This new benchmark includes data from both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star Target Finder and the. U.S. DOE Building Performance Database. The DOE has assembled the largest database of information related to building energy consumption in the world, representing nearly 4.8 million buildings, comprising 68 billion square feet of commercial building space, but all of that data was virtually hidden because it was difficult for a layperson to understand it. But all of us involved in this project felt there was a large missing piece: cost savings. Cost is the crucial “why” of energy management; it’s what makes business execs sit up and take notice. In order to make a business case to company leaders and investors, energy managers and sustainability managers need to speak the language of dollars, and that’s what we’ve delivered in this benchmark.
With the explosion of IoT-enabled devices, interconnected buildings, and the allure of smart cities, no building owner should be without a comparative benchmark. Every building stakeholder stands to make or lose millions of dollars through energy management. The choice is theirs. Now, it’s finally easy for them to take the first step toward energy savings by seeing how a building’s energy costs compare to similar buildings. This is a whole new paradigm, bringing building energy cost conversations up from the basement to the boardroom. Operations personnel and finance teams can all communicate about overall energy expenditures, so they can take steps to make buildings more sustainable, cost-effective for owners and more attractive to investors and tenants.
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