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Buildings of the Future – EcoXpert Podcast by Schneider Electric

Martin Feder

In episode 6, the final episode for 2020 of the EcoXpert – Enabling Buildings of the Future podcast, we dive deep into how Schneider Electric is preparing EcoXperts for the Building of the Future journey. After a short introduction from Laurent Bataille, EVP of Digital Energy explaining how this new vision will enable EcoXpert partners to unleash their growth potential, I am virtually joined by Allison Huffman, Director of Global Marketing, EcoStruxure Building, for an informative interview where listeners learn how this journey will prepare system integrators to adapt their skills and knowledge to benefit their customers and above all prepare them for changes coming in the markets.

Buildings of the Future – Buildings

Building owners and operators

I started off by asking Allison the question we’re all wondering: What does Buildings of the Future really mean and why now, during a pandemic? Allison explained that this is the perfect time for Buildings of the Future. The industry was already pressured to move into an all-electric, all-digital world which COVID-19 has really put into hyperdrive. There are several new requirements for building owners and facility managers that are forcing them to look at buildings that can be sustainable, resilient, hyper-efficient, and people-centric.

For building owners and operators, Buildings of the Future is about having a way to meet all their needs while remaining within their operating budget even with the many different circumstances they are facing. New challenges with the pandemic vary as owners and operators deal with either low occupancy buildings (such as hotels and commercial buildings), whilst managing remotely or buildings running at max capacity (such as hospitals) that have a completely different set of demands. This vision is a framework of how to succeed in keeping these buildings thriving while improving their investment.

System integrators and EcoXperts

Allison shares that EcoXperts, now more than ever, need to be an advisor for their customers. It’s important that they’re able to help building owners and operators navigate remote operating, social distancing demands and the additional constraints caused by the pandemic. For these business partners, Buildings of the Future is here to aid them in answering customer questions and how they can help building owners succeed. That being said, for EcoXperts now is the time to adapt to a digital mindset and shift how they work with their customers before the competition takes these opportunities – “adapt to survive.”

Several tools and materials have been created to make sure EcoXperts are prepared to bring Buildings of the Future to the market and bridge any gaps in knowledge around offers they may have. Allison explains that the real goal is for them to be able to grow and transform their business through this vision. We plan to be there every step of the way, facilitating opportunities for partners to become multi-badged or to collaborate with other EcoXperts in the partner program’s ecosystem to fulfill the needs of customers together.

Throughout 2021, lots more materials, tools, and training will be brought to partners as well as the roll out of enabler programs to enrich the conversations partners will have with customers. This is certainly a great opportunity for EcoXperts and system integrators who are interested in joining the program and NOW is the time to do it. The level of material being provided is exclusive to EcoXperts as Schneider Electric partners and made specific for them to utilize, build their own brand, and differentiate their business. “If you’re not an EcoXpert right now you’re missing out on all of that opportunity.” – Allison.

Buildings of the Future is about more than just building systems. This vision combines the focus of power management and building management like never before, presenting the accelerated need for skillsets requirements to be expanded and for systems to collaborate especially with COVID-19 as a catalyst.

Buildings of the Future – Power

Linked to this journey is a fascinating interview conducting by my co-host Kevin Morin, discussing how power and power systems are applied to be resilient and safe meeting customers’ needs and requirements. We hear from Tony Hunt, Offer Manager of Digital Power, who serves as a consultant focusing on helping customers understand the benefits of power management and power management applications. Tony shares insights from his recent Innovation Talk on Power Reliability for the New Electric World on the importance of power quality when discussing power reliability and how sustainability goals are driving changes that affect the electrical system which are impacting the way building owners must manage and maintain electrical infrastructure reliability.

Power reliability

Kevin starts by asking Tony out of the four Buildings of the Future pillars (sustainable, resilient, hyper-efficient, and people-centric) which one he believes is mainly impacting the future of buildings? Although Tony explains that they’re all important and aligned with global trends, in his opinion, the two most important pillars are resilience and sustainability. He notes that these two pillars are also extremely interconnected.

Diving deeper into the resilience pillar to discuss power reliability, Kevin refers to Tony’s recent Innovation Talk that featured two EcoXperts and their customers who shared incredible insights. During their panel discussion the four guest speakers all responded to a question about power reliability from a sustainability and energy efficiency standpoint. Tony explains that the reasoning behind this interesting response is because even if customers are initially focused on net zero sustainability, without a power management system in place, managing the dynamics of the ultimate power sources that are being implemented is not possible. Which then leads into the topic of the importance of power quality. Aside from sustainability, power quality is a massive driver when we think about reliability.

Harmonics and power quality are very significant power reliability and operational reliability factors. Tony delves into the substantial implications between the energy efficiency retrofits and power reliability mentioning one classic hospital example. A hospital aiming to reduce their energy consumption through the installation of variable speed drives during an energy efficiency retrofit project noticed their specialized equipment machines starting to fail. This is one of the most common problems in energy conservation projects with the other being introduced, harmonic pollution. For example, large-scale lighting retrofits where older technologies are removed. The main issue here is that the focus is on achieving energy reduction through the replacement of old equipment with new highly efficient equipment but taking no consideration into the implications of the power quality and its degradation due to harmonics. This scenario is common across many industries including automation manufacturing.

It’s important to understand the role that power management plays in a building and how it ties into Buildings of the Future when combined with building management.

Listen to the full episode 6 to hear more about the Buildings of the Future vision and how building and power management combined create the all-digital, all-electric world we live in! Search “EcoXpert” on any listening app to listen or download for free and subscribe to the channel to receive new episodes automatically.

Check out Schneider Electric website for more!

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