Response to the Chancellor’s Spending Review

The Chancellor’s statement yesterday was well trailed beforehand so there were few surprises. It seems that the “greenest government ever” is in fact true blue in tooth and claw with a continuing policy of reducing leadership in central government (by decreasing funding of staff) and increasing the expectation of self-reliance by industry.

Buried in the lengthy statement that dwelt very largely on the “back to work” theme was the commissioning of HST1, the prospect of a new North South Crossrail and additional funds for flood defences. All good news for the concrete farmers.

As far as greenness was concerned, there was little said but it is clear that the message concerning the long term availability of secure energy is now well embedded. A number of key issues were put forward:

  • Firstly there was the promise of a strike price for electricity that may bring the construction of new nuclear a little nearer. Without this underpinning of future revenues the private sector is always going to be shy of the massive investments needed with very long term recovery periods.
  • Secondly there was the promise of additional investment incentive for shale gas exploration. Shale gas has the potential to fill a difficult hole in energy supply whilst the nuclear builds take place. Hardly green but a pragmatic response badly needed.

One of the difficult issues our industry is going to face is the additional loss of leadership/sponsorship and infrastructure that civil servants have given us through departments such as DCLG, BIS and DECC. As their resources have been pared to the bone, it is unsurprising that delays associated with regulation, planning reform, energy reduction programmes (Green Deal for example) are becoming ever more visible. The question is do we have the energy will and resource to fill that void? The Chancellor specifically identified other industries as the future – “synthetic biology to grapheme” but did not repeat his earlier commitment to a zero carbon built environment.

In a nutshell my take-away from this statement is one of the need for self-reliance and the need to build better “regulation” from within our community rather than expect government to lead. Either that or don a cowboy hat.

‘Point of no return’ for smart buildings

jeremy blog

Mega-Trends for a Smart Buildings Future

I have just returned from the IBcon conference in Orlando, Florida. And what an event it was! A hive of activity, it proved to be a great networking and educational experience, with some of the most innovative smart building owners, operators, specifiers and suppliers in the industry. A key feature of the event is how it successfully brings both the supply and demand side together under one roof. Attendees were spoilt for choice for which educational track to join (some 9 separate tracks each running some 3-5 panels per day) on every subject from smart metering, through smart grid, to energy management services and building system cyber security (or lack of it…), to name just a few. I personally wanted to divide myself up and join all of them! Attendees were primed for these two content-rich days by an excellent and comprehensive launch through the IB Bootcamp, where presenters delivered a series of presentations, showcasing smart building case studies, latest technologies and future visions. In addition to this, there was good participation from suppliers in the exhibitor’s hall, and the fact that the event is co-hosted with Infocom means that there are many more people to visit and to be visited by.

 The big themes of the day were Social Media, Mobility, Analytics and the Cloud, and their impact on the smart, connected buildings community. Each of these is already having a significant impact on our definition and understanding of a smart building and its meaning in the context of smart cities. It is clear that this goes well beyond the realm of energy efficiency and energy management, important though these are. It is also about operational efficiency, occupant satisfaction and productivity. However, building owners are seeking an improvement in installer messaging when being presented so many energy saving tools and practices by so many different suppliers.

 Now we can truly include in the wider frame, the voice of the end user (wherever they happen to be located), the impact of tens or even hundreds of thousands of data points being monitored and analysed daily, in real time, to generate big data trends on which to base solid business decisions and increase the value of an asset.

 I was part of a panel in which there was general consensus that the industry has now “crossed the chasm”, or in other words, reached a critical “point of no return” for smart, connected buildings to become mainstream. These buildings provide significantly higher value to their users and greater returns for their owners. There are now real world examples that can be cited and the “Internet of Everything” is starting to become tangible, moving from hype to reality.

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