Achieving Urban Infrastructure Efficiencies Through Building Networks
On March 24, 2011 the Green Buildings Discussion Group hosted a panel discussion titled Achieving Urban Infrastructure Efficiencies Through Building Networks. At this event, experts focused on the idea that realizing the full urban potential for deep energy reductions will require a reconceptualization of urban infrastructure: we must begin to think of cities not as collections of discrete buildings but as networks of buildings that can share information and better manage resources collectively.
William Sisson, Director of Sustainability at United Technologies Corporation, opened the event by noting the discrepancy between how much is known about building efficiency at a singular level and how little is known about building efficiency on a collective level. He explained that we need to understand how building networks interact as a community and what technologies show potential for advancing building and network efficiency.
Nicholas You, Chairman of the Assurance Group for the World Business Council on Sustainable Development's Urban Infrastructure Initiative, gave an overview of the current state of policy in urban infrastructure internationally. He discussed existing barriers to the development of smart infrastructure, such as consumerism and competing jurisdictions, and potential solutions to overcome these barriers. He presented several case studies of global cities that are implementing policies that allow for the growth of smart infrastructure as models for how New York and other large metropolitan areas can implement these changes.
Charlotte Matthews, Director of Sustainability at Related Companies, summarized her company's work at the Hudson Yards project in Manhattan. This multi-use project is being developed with building efficiencies in mind, and it will integrate some of the most cutting-edge technologies in electricity generation, waste disposal, and communications. Matthews explained the process of selecting these technologies and the intricacies of their mechanisms for making this project's network of buildings highly efficient.
Wes Frye of Cisco Systems discussed the potential for information technology to make buildings more efficient and communicative. He explained building automation and energy management technologies, but he discussed ways to change people's behaviors in order to make buildings more efficient, as well. Frye also discussed ways to retrofit current buildings with newer, less energy-expensive technology and to interlink them with surrounding buildings to create efficient networks of existing structures.
All speakers emphasized that communicative and integrated buildings networks have immense potential for increasing overall efficiency in the future of our urban areas.
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Wes Frye is a Director in Cisco's Internet Business Solutions group (IBSG). He helps create and incubate new business and technology innovations to seed Cisco's future development pipeline. Frye creates virtual teams across Cisco's business units and with external partners (corporations, universities, and governments) to test and accelerate new business opportunities. His focus is on sustainable energy, electricity and utility solutions to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases using information technology to provide better visibility, understanding and control of how energy is supplied and consumed across buildings, homes and vehicles.
Frye is also Chief Development Officer of Energy for Planetary Skin Institute, a not-for-profit partnership between Cisco, NASA, and several universities. He is creating a business decision-support platform to accelerate the widespread adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Frye has an MBA from Columbia University and MS and BS degrees in engineering from Brown University.
Charlotte Matthews directs Related's corporate sustainability strategy and oversees all of its green development activity. Related is a real estate developer/owner/manager with a diverse property portfolio valued at $15B. As a member of the Real Estate Board of New York–Sustainability Committee and the NYC Green Codes Industry Advisory Committee, Matthews is involved in the development and review of legislation, department rules, codes and research intended to green New York City's building stock and new construction. She is also a member of the Institute for Market Transformation board and a special advisor to Columbia University's Masters in Real Estate Development program. Over her career, Matthews has been involved in the development and evolution of green building rating systems that include LEED for New Construction, LEED for Labs and the DOE/EPA Lab 21 Environmental Performance Criteria. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Brown University.
Nicholas You is an architect and economist by training. Early on, he worked in design in Europe managing housing and urban development projects in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He joined UN–Habitat in 1982 to help establish municipal training and leadership development programs worldwide. He was on the Secretariat for the Habitat II Conference which resulted in the 1996 Habitat Agenda and led to the Best Practices and Local Leadership Program—a global network of institutions dedicated to improving the living environment. He led this program for ten years until his appointment as Senior Policy Advisor. In January 2009, he was asked by the United Nations to spearhead a Global Campaign on "Better Cities, Better Life."
He is the author/editor of five books and numerous articles on housing, urban management and sustainable development. From 2000 to 2007 he was a visiting professor at the University Federico II in Naples. Since retirement from the United Nations in 2010, he has been serving as Chairman of, amongst others, the Steering Committee of the United Nations World Urban Campaign; the Cities and Climate Change Commission of the World Future Council; and the Assurance Group of the Urban Infrastructure Initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.