SDGBC 2014 Conference: Building Innovation for People and Performance

by Peter Rumsey (Point Energy Innovations)

Peter Rumsey is a well-known thought leader in the world of energy efficiency, and has designed more LEED Platinum and net zero energy buildings than any other engineer in the US. Founder of the highly regarded Rumsey Engineers, he later sold that firm to Integral Group. Rumsey is CEO and founder of Point Energy Innovations, providing consulting services to project teams and owners, as well as serving as a strategic advisor.

Some takeaways from Rumsey's closing keynote:

  • Controls are out-of-control - not accurate nor particularly effective
  • 42% of office workers are unsatisfied with their thermal environments
  • Floor-to-ceiling glass creates thermal comfort issues and add to the glare that comes to define many of our modern buildings
  • Energy benchmarking, such as in NYC and other metros both here and abroad, is an effective tool for improving building performance
  • It isn't about the "gadgets" - the building envelope and the way components work together matter the most in energy efficiency
  • People-centered design is the future
  • Google is committed to building facilities that avoid materials on the infamous "Red List"
  • External operable shading devices are all the rage in Europe, but more recently in the U.S., including a facility at UCSD
  • Electrochomic windows, that allow end users to control the amount of shading on a window with a flip of a switch, are also on the rise
  • 50% of HVAC energy, 15% of US electricity use, representing $60 billion annually, is lost on friction within mechanical components
  • Software solutions (including Building Robotics' Comfy) are seeing major funding by venture capitalists (VCs), but Rumsey argues we should focus more on making people the sensors themselves
  • Personal heating/cooling systems bring comfort directly to the people, instead of heating and cooling buildings
  • A building microbiome is a population of microorganisms that inhabit a building's spaces and ducting
  • This is the Golden Age of building performance innovation
  • Start with a goal in mind, the details will come
  • The state of Missouri's first LEED Platinum building started with the understanding that no additional funds would be available for improved performance
  • College-age people (Rumsey lectures at Stanford) want much more aggressive steps taken to address climate change
  • Performance aesthetics are just as important as architectural aesthetics

You can't solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.

Albert Einstein