Global clean energy innovation: Reflections from Switch’s CEO on MI-3 day one

By Deb Noller, Switch Automation • May 23, 2018

I’ve just arrived in Malmö, Sweden to participate in global clean energy discussions with some of the most respected minds in the world. Enter Mission Innovation 3. As I consider the next 48 hours, I anticipate this will be an idea-fueled consortium.

I look forward to contributing my perspective and aspire to help advance the progress of intelligent, connected buildings worldwide alongside equally passionate members of the public and private sectors. I’ll be sharing my reflections each day of the conference to highlight some of the challenges, opportunities, thought leadership and innovations we can leverage to achieve the ambitious objectives of MI-3. But first, a little background.

What is Mission Innovation?

On April 22, 2016, 174 countries signed The Paris Agreement, a global contract to reduce the effects of climate change. Following that landmark milestone, 20 countries plus the EU formed Mission Innovation, a collaborative group with a shared desire to accelerate innovation in global clean energy. The first MI was held in San Francisco in June 2016 and has since expanded to 22 nations and the EU. These countries meet annually to measure progress and discuss ways to reach their goal of doubling the investment in clean energy innovation between 2016 and 2021. Funds are funneled into areas like smart grids, carbon capture, new fuels, new materials and optimizing heating and cooling in buildings, an issue that I am deeply passionate about.

Why are buildings such a big problem?

Buildings are the largest energy-consuming sector in the world, accounting for more than one-third of global use. Heating and cooling is responsible for nearly 40% of that total. When building managers can’t see how their buildings are operating in real-time, or worse yet, they don’t know where or when their buildings are underperforming, there’s no way for them to prevent critical issues and optimize performance. It’s like expecting a doctor to accurately diagnose and treat a sick patient without conducting an exam!

Why haven’t we solved this yet?

You can’t fix what you can’t see. Building management teams are restricted from making effective decisions because they don’t have the right tools and information to make the discovery in a timely manner if at all. Like the physician who must examine his patient to determine the root cause of an illness, real estate operators must be able to understand what’s happening in their facilities in real-time in order to prevent energy bleed.

Working toward global clean energy

In 2017, Mission Innovation held an expert workshop to pinpoint issues inhibiting energy improvements in the area of heating and cooling. They posited that an open data platform could significantly accelerate the pace of change. Empowering key team members with insights generated from accurate, cost-effective, timely and meaningful data can transform the industry. By expanding the buildings ecosystem with an open, digital layer we can invite innovators to make giant leaps with data. Consider the digital transformation that occurred on the shoulders of Google Maps SDK, which has been used to create apps like Airbnb, Whatsapp and Expedia.

I’m most grateful to have been invited by the Australian Government to talk about this initiative and look forward to the upcoming discussions. I truly believe we can advance our industry and save money and energy, while creating new, smart jobs.

Follow me on Twitter for the latest MI-3 challenges, solutions and clean energy takeaways.

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See also:

Sustainability in the built environment: MI-3 fosters global innovation

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