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The Decarbonization and Electrification Era

May 11, 2023
The new era will be created by young, passionate people committed to changing the world’s political and physical climate.

Last month we discussed “Enviromation” – the Dawn of New Era,  inspired by the “dawn of a new era” theme of The event was sold out, with approximately 550 total attendees and over 40 speakers between keynote speakers and panelists.

I delivered my keynote message to the event in a video projected on a giant theater screen. “Enviromation” combines environment and automation. It describes the creative collision of today’s environmental needs with the need to automate our informational and physical interactions.

From our conference welcome and introduction:

The BAS industry is rapidly moving into a new era of IP cloud-connected control systems. The shift is brand new, and the ramifications are huge from new wiring requirements to complex data ontologies to utilizing application programming interfaces with internet-connected cybersecurity requirements and the list is just starting. At Controls-Con this year, we hope to uncover the new IP BAS world, what’s happening today but more important what is going to happen tomorrow as the industry hits the reset button on the technology, designs, and processes that have served us since the end of the pneumatic era.

This month I will highlight the environmental part of this brave new era. A new era that will be created by young, passionate people committed to changing the world’s political and physical climate. This article from Brad White, President of SES Consulting articulates:

Want Your Work to Have Real Impact? Smart Buildings is the Place for You

Are you tech-savvy? Are you looking for a place where your work can have a real, measurable impact? If you answered yes to these questions, then the Smart Building industry may just be the place for you.

The amount of potential for environmental impact is staggering. While buildings are a huge source of GHGs, they also represent a massive potential for change. Beyond efficiency, integrated and optimized building control systems are essential for operating low-carbon and electrified heating systems. I would go so far as to say that effective smart building systems are essential to the transition to a low-carbon economy.

We are poised to see an unprecedented investment in the building sector because of a confluence of factors…

Opportunities abound. Check out this course description from the University of British Columbia:

The Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Clean Energy Engineering is a professional degree for engineers who want to excel and drive innovation in the field of clean energy. This interdisciplinary master’s program combines graduate-level engineering courses.

This article from Brian Collins, Marketing Manager for OpSys Solutions, points out that while more traditional tech companies are scaling back, the smart buildings/smart cities movement is looking to hire:

Tech’s “Hidden” Industry: Smart Buildings

While Silicon Valley is laying off thousands of workers, companies in the smart buildings industry (SBI) are facing serious workforce shortages in almost every field. Businesses of every size, from systems integrators (SI) to equipment manufacturers, are fighting over engineers and developers. It’s the perfect time for laid-off, bored, or disillusioned workers to give the smart buildings industry a serious look.

One might assume: “Well, with such a worker shortage, the SBI must be a crap place to work.” Far from the truth. The SBI actually pays well and offers challenging, meaningful work. It also holds some of the largest companies in the world, yet it’s an industry often “hidden” from most people. That’s because building operation is one of those things that, when it works well, goes unnoticed. The air conditioning keeps us cool. The lights turn on. The toilets flush. It’s only when these events don’t happen that we notice…and we notice fast.

This article from Justin Blanchfield, PE with Island Health Authority’s energy team, discusses how we can accelerate decarbonization:

How to Speed up Decarbonization

So why is Island Health different, and how can I leverage our experience to help others speed up their path to decarbonization?

We have amazing support from our executive and C-suite leadership.  Our funding has ramped up, and we are growing our energy team quickly.  An organizational commitment to decarbonize, making these commitments public with metrics and annual reporting is fundamental. I feel like this is the easy answer, though. Obviously, without funding and leadership support, your decarbonization plan is going nowhere fast.

Once an organization has this support and millions of dollars in capital, what comes next?  Spending lots of money by implementing hundreds of carbon reduction measures is quite difficult.  There are still many impediments to face and challenges to overcome.

I want to present the following four ways to speed up our path to decarbonization:

1.        Building strong relationships

2.        Internalizing Energy Efficiency Engineering

3.        Recovering from our addiction to analysis

4.        Starting with the end in mind and working backwards

Want to involve younger folks? Contributing Editor and “building whisperer” Nicholas Waern suggests making it into a game:

Reality Gamification and Rapid Decarbonization

Want to play a game and save the planet? The ability to emulate reality and digitally display live versions of reality in a video game setting is… awesome! The pictures below were from a demo done for the Digital Twin Consortium. It’s always awesome to notice that the game environment reflects the actual context of where the buildings are at.

Metaversal Mastery and Global Digital Twinning

This Metaversal Mastery is also used with the Global Digital Twinning from EDX Technologies, where we can zoom out into any part of the planet. This helps us illustrate what problems we are solving from another initiative focusing on Carbon Neutral Real Estate through DCarbon Solutions and how it ties into a Global Decentralized Network from Net Zero Token NZTwork. We are raising money for all initiatives to take the world to the next level.

RealityGamification is one of the most exciting areas to look out for, especially when it’s tied to an emulation of reality through interoperable and bi-directional data strategies. This will prove that the Metaverse is not only about escaping reality but can and should be used in tandem to improve reality. And It can further advance explainable AI concepts tied to the world we need to improve.

Join us on our LinkedIn group Monday Live! as we start May’s Smarter Buildings and Climate Change theme. We’ll explore the impact of climate change on buildings and how smarter buildings can help mitigate climate change.

The discussion begins at 3 pm ET. Register at

Is the industry vested? That’s a question I try to tackle myself in the course of this announcement:

BrainBox AI’s decarbonization technology Announces US$20 Million Investment

BrainBox AI, a leader in autonomous building technology, announced its acquisition of ABB’s multi-site retail (MSR) energy management system integrator business. With the objective of accelerating the decarbonization journey for retailers, BrainBox AI intends to integrate ABB’s MSR business, its experienced team based in New Hampshire and an installed base of over 12,000 retail locations into its current operations.

How does electrification fit into the overall picture? Once again, we can take a few cues from Brad White in this article:

Building to Electrification Coalition

B2E is a BC-based member-driven coalition whose purpose is to create opportunities for multiple stakeholders to work collaboratively to identify and address barriers to electrification and take actions that contribute to a meaningful market shift to low-carbon building electrification. B2E is a convener and knowledge hub of building electrification best practices.

The creation of B2E was identified as a key strategy in the BC Building Electrification Road Map to support a rapid transition to building electrification. A Leadership Council has been formed to act as an advisory body to the B2E.

I understand this next LinkedIn post focuses on the luxury of having a carbon-free renewable energy source like water over the dam. But I hope as renewable resources continue to grow and diversify—solar, wind, microgrids, and even small-scale nuclear—my message will be come applicable to more and more people around the globe:

Decarbonization Resources

Exciting news out of Vancouver – the city’s new emissions bylaw will reduce building-related carbon pollution and create value for buildings! The bylaw requires commercial and multi-residential buildings to report their energy use and carbon emissions, which will help property owners identify opportunities for improvement.

Reducing emissions from existing buildings will make a bigger contribution to our 2030 and 2050 climate targets than eliminating emissions from new buildings. The City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver have 2030 emissions targets for the building sector. In May 2022, Vancouver City Council approved a proposal to limit emissions from large, existing commercial buildings beginning in 2026 (preceded by measuring and reporting starting next year).

About the Author

Ken Sinclair | Editor/Owner/Founder

Ken Sinclair has been called an oracle of the digital age. He sees himself more as a storyteller and hopes the stories he tells will be a catalyst for the IoT future we are all (eventually) going to live. The more than 50 chapters in that ongoing story of digital transformation below are peppered with HTML links to articles containing an amazing and diverse amount of information.

Ken believes that systems will be smarter, self-learning, edgy, innovative, and sophisticated, and to create, manage and re-invent those systems the industry needs to grow our most important resource, our  younger people, by reaching out to them with messages about how vibrant, vital and rewarding working in this industry can be.

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