Episode 18: University of Virginia's Delta Force Program

Andrea Trimble (left), Jesse Warren (right)

Andrea Trimble (left), Jesse Warren (right)

Guests:
Andrea Trimble, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, O+M
Office for Sustainability Director
University of Virginia

Jesse Warren PE, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, O+M
Sustainability Program Manager for Buildings & Operations
University of Virginia

Host: Dave Karlsgodt
Principal, Fovea, LLC

The focus of this episode is the University of Virginia’s Delta Force, a self-funded building energy efficiency and sustainability program. You’ll hear how UVA has taken a $400,000 seed fund to yield $42M dollars in energy related cost savings to the University. We get into the nuts and bolts of the program but also zoom back to talk more generally about their sustainability programs and collaboration with their city and regional governments.

Resources:

Episode Transcript:

The following is an automated transcription of this episode which will include errors and omissions. You can listen and follow along with the text here:

https://otter.ai/s/jfxGTvi0RGCKkHO3dQ4lOw

David Karlsgodt 0:00

Welcome to the campus energy and sustainability podcast. In each episode, we'll talk with leading campus professionals thought leaders and engineers and innovators addressing the unique challenges and opportunities facing higher ed and corporate campuses. Our discussions will range from energy conservation and efficiency to planning and finance, from building science to social science, from energy systems to food systems, we hope you're ready to learn, share and ultimately accelerate your institution towards solutions. I'm your host, Dave Karlsgodt, I'm a principal at Fovea an energy, carbon and business planning firm.

Jesse Warren 0:33

The biggest thing that I love about my job is that we have the freedom and flexibility to identify what is the best path forward for the university, as opposed to being prescribed to a specific one.

Andrea Trimble 0:45

We've reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by about 19% since 2009, despite very extensive growth, and a lot of that has been attributable to energy efficiency.

Jesse Warren 0:57

When I came to UVA, I was worried that I was going to have to fill out a requisition form to do a project in the next budget year and things like that. And that told me that I wasn't going to have the impact. But what I learned is things like the Delta Force model that allow our funding to revolve makes sure that our impact is significant and its immediate.

David Karlsgodt 1:19

In this episode, you'll hear my interview with two staff from the University of Virginia. First Andrea Trimble, office for sustainability director, and Jesse Warren, sustainability program manager for building and operations. The focus of our conversation is UVA is Delta Force, a self funded building energy efficiency and sustainability program. You'll hear how UVA has taken a $400,000 seed fund to yield $42 million in energy related cost savings to the university. We certainly get into the nuts and bolts of the program. But we also zoom back to talk more generally about their sustainability programs, and how they're collaborating with their city and regional governments. Before we get started, a quick thank you to all of you who shared our recent summer internship job posting, we had an overwhelming response. And we're honored and humbled by all of the amazing candidates that said it applications. I asked my wife to help me in reviewing the applications. And this morning, she told me that compared to all the negative news We've been living through, reading the ideas of these passionate, smart, articulate young people ready to take on the world's challenges gave her a great deal of hope. I couldn't agree with her more. And I look forward to introducing a new voice to the podcast the summer. For now, please enjoy this may 1 interview with Andrea Trimble and Jesse Warren from the University of Virginia.

Andrea and Jesse, it's great to have you on the podcast today.

Andrea Trimble 2:44

It's great to be here. Thank you for having me. Thanks, Dave.

David Karlsgodt 2:46

Well, I'm excited to have you both here today to talk about your building Efficiency Program and sustainability programs, specifically the Delta Force program. And I know we're going to get into a bunch of different topics, including building standards, students, faculty and community engagement and project finance all sorts of fun stuff, I'm sure. But before we get into that, can you both just introduce yourselves so we know who we're talking to? And maybe give a little bit of background on the UVA campus? Just so people know where you are? Andrew, why don't you start?

Andrea Trimble 3:20

Sounds good. My name is Andrea Trimble and I am director of movies office for sustainability, which is a team of 13 full time staff and 18 part time student employees who focus on strategic planning, collaboration, program and event management, project implementation and engagement communication with two primary aspects to the office of outreach and engagement side. And we have staff associated with that and an energy engineering side of the staff associated with buildings and recycling. UVA is fairly large, we have over 16,000 undergrads over 6000 graduate students, over 16,000 employees, and over 16 million square feet of building space. This also includes a large hospital and health system, which is included in all of our goals and UNESCO World Heritage Site, our Thomas Jefferson's lon. And we're tied to

David Karlsgodt 4:11

thanks, Jesse, over to you.

Jesse Warren 4:12

My name is Jesse Warren. I'm our sustainability program manager for buildings and operations. What that means is I'm responsible for energy efficiency on the building side of the meter, I'm responsible for new renewable energy development on grounds as well as our Solid Waste Management Program. The university is somewhat unique in that we have campus energy systems that are provided by both fossil fuels and electricity, and those are sold to our individual buildings.

David Karlsgodt 4:39

Alright, thanks for that. Let's dive right into talking about the Delta Force program, which was the premise of what we wanted to talk about in this show. So maybe Jesse, can you just give us an overview of the program, and then we can dive into some of the details?

Jesse Warren 4:53

Sure. So Delta Force is our internal building retro commissioning program, we've been working for about a decade on retro commissioning existing buildings on grounds. The way we do that is by creating sort of a multifunctional team of folks that consist of energy engineers like myself, as well as building operators, maintenance technicians, and outside subcontractors to be able to get these buildings to their peak performance. We do this through an internal revolving fund model, where we, we fund the initial investments into energy efficiency, and then we recover 125% of that investment over time. So our construction costs end up being recovered through the energy savings of those projects. And that helps fund the the office for sustainability and our internal operations.

David Karlsgodt 5:43

Tell me a little bit about the scale of savings you're talking about.

Jesse Warren 5:48

At the end of calendar year, 18, we have invested $16.7 million into Delta Force, and we've saved over $42 million in avoided energy cost. Wow, those are real metered savings. And that is the net of our savings. So if some building has gone over, that's been taken into account, when I quote that 42 million,

David Karlsgodt 6:06

you're not just counting your successes, you're counting your your failures is running that number. That's great. All right. Well, Andrea, you were the one that reached out to me about this program. What specifically was it about the Delta Force that you thought would be relevant to the listeners of this podcast?

Andrea Trimble 6:22

So one aspect of our work that's very important to us is to share replicable models that could be implemented elsewhere, in order to scale impact, especially as we all collectively work together on urgent global issues and climate change. We really value the importance of sharing materials and lessons learned with anyone who's interested. I've been focused on sustainability in higher education for about 13 years now. And I really think the Delta Force program is an innovative but replicable program with really impressive financial energy and greenhouse gas results.

David Karlsgodt 6:53

Well, I'm excited to dig into some of these details. But how did you guys get this started? We talk a lot with clients about the idea of having a revolving fund and reinvesting and using the savings from one project to reinvest to the other. But how did you get this off the ground in the first place?

Jesse Warren 7:09

Well, I mentioned early on that we've got a strong energy and utilities infrastructure here on campus, and our plants are selling hot water and chilled water to our buildings. And our buildings are returning chilled water and hot water to them. So what happens is we identified buildings that had a very low chilled water delta t. And we own the energy and utility side said, we're going to go into those buildings. And we're going to make those investments in retro commissioning and new vows in order to increase the delta t across the building. That'll make our plants more efficient. And that'll make it cheaper for the enterprise to run. We enter we invested about $400,000 into that project. And we generated about $800,000 a year and energy savings, meaning we had about a six month payback on that investment. So the university said okay, we'll take back our $400,000. But we will give to you the other $400,000 in order to seed or evolving fun program to keep these kinds of investments moving. That was in about 2009. Since then, we've undertaken about 30 projects encompassing close to 50 buildings, in varying levels of energy efficiency retrofits ranging from light retro commissioning all the way down to deep energy retrofits including new lighting, water fixtures, etc.

David Karlsgodt 8:28

So Jesse, just so my dad, when he listens to this podcast, can and get what you're saying, can you explain the concept of delta-T, because I think that's pretty critical for people to understand.

Jesse Warren 8:38

Sure. So when we send chilled water out to a building, we send that chilled water out at about 44 degrees, we want that chilled water to come back at like 64 degrees, because that's how our machines are designed to work. When those buildings are performing poorly, that water can come back at like 48 degrees, that means you've got a four degree temperature rise across the system and that of the 20 degree temperature rise that our systems are looking for. and forcing our machines to operate in those conditions leads to a loss and performance and degradation over time.

David Karlsgodt 9:10

Basically, you want to suck more of the cold out. Is that a way to think about it?

Jesse Warren 9:13

exactly. To get into the engineering of it. Your efficiency is dictated by these temperatures. And the broader the span of the temperatures, the better than machine can operate.

David Karlsgodt 9:24

Okay, great. Well, I think you mentioned this, but what was the source of that original funding? Can you remind me?

Jesse Warren 9:30

that was funded through energy and utilities programs, so the chiller plants were operating at less than optimal performance, and they came up with the idea to go into these buildings and retro condition them. So for years, the Delta Force program before we incorporated the office for sustainability actually lived in energy and utilities, and not in building maintenance, because that was what was really the original funding source.

David Karlsgodt 9:53

Okay, good. So but it sounds like you got this first big project and you had great results. And then you were able to expand that out and take it from there. How did the program developed since then? I mean, so you had the big project, what, how did you get your second project, your third project, etc.

Jesse Warren 10:08

So once we had a track record of success, it was really a matter of identifying those big energy consuming buildings, and then putting in place the pieces that we needed to retro condition them. When I say retro condition, I'm talking about bringing all the systems back to the level of performance that they had when they originally designed. I think that's a noble goal. But our goal today is to do better than that. We want the buildings to perform better than design. So it's retro commissioning, plus all these energy efficiency activities that come into it. So once we started sort of persuading people that this was an opportunity, we were able to sort of grow that reputation and fund on campus.

David Karlsgodt 10:46

Now, that's an interesting point. So you're saying even the building is originally designed is not as good as you're able to get buildings to? Now? That's correct. Is that? Is that because that when they design them? Is it that they're not thinking hard enough, they're being too conservative? Or is it just that the technology's gotten better, or you've just understood how the systems work better or

Jesse Warren 11:06

a little bit of all three, to be honest with you. The systems were designed to do what was appropriate back then. And today's codes and standards have evolved because we have a better understanding of ventilation or building envelope designed, for instance. So we don't just try to bring it back to the original condition, we try to bring it to the condition that it wants to be today. So as we look forward, that involves things like air change optimization around laboratories, we've got spaces that were designed to be lat have laboratory ventilation systems, but are not being used as labs, whether that's through a change in space, or a decision that was made an initial design, we can come back through and recalibrate those spaces to use significantly less energy. And while we're at it be a lot less noisy and intrusive on the building occupants.

David Karlsgodt 11:53

Got it. Okay, so you're treating these like long term working assets, rather than like a disposable building, essentially. Right?

Jesse Warren 11:59

Okay. If you think about our long term history here on grounds, I mean, we're celebrating our 200th anniversary, and many of our buildings are built out of, you know, slate roofs and copper gutters. And in order to make those kinds of decisions, they make sense on the 50 or hundred year scale. Now MEP decisions, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing decisions aren't being made that way. But for our buildings that we know are not going anywhere, we're taking the longest view.

David Karlsgodt 12:24

So Jesse, a key point, something that seems central to figuring this all out would be metering. Can you tell us a little bit about how your buildings are metered? how detailed is that? How much do you rely on that information?

Jesse Warren 12:37

Yeah, so metering is sort of the crux of everything that we do, right. Because if you think about the way the Delta Force model works, we look back upon historical metering data to understand what the building was doing before we got started. And we continue to charge them that baseline, as we reduce energy, the energy reduction, cost comes back to us. So we are taking credit for the avoid cost associated with our work. And then once we achieve our cost recovery, the mechanism falls away. And now the School of Business Unit against a benefit.

David Karlsgodt 13:14

So is that based on a couple of years, is a weather normalized, like how do you how do you do that to make sure you don't just, you know, one building had a bad year or something went wrong, and that's the baseline or vice versa, that you know, they weren't using it at all. So their baseline was really low.

Jesse Warren 13:26

Yeah, that's a risk that we kind of take on ourselves, we've got to be really judicious with the projects that we choose to make sure that things like that aren't going to happen. Like, I'll give you an example. There's a building on grounds that we've wanted to do ever since it was built, but it hasn't reached full occupancy yet. So for our model, once the occupancy increases by 25%, with that final build out, that's when we really have an opportunity to come in and manage energy. for better for worse, our model doesn't work when the building is partially occupied, or isn't a state of transition.

David Karlsgodt 13:57

Yeah, do you have other mechanisms stick it at things like that is that just that's not within the scope of what your Delta Force program is trying to deal with?

Jesse Warren 14:04

Well, we're working on them. We've got a couple of different ideas on how to manage that. But Delta Force is sort of the primary vehicle, we've considered an Andrea, feel free to chime in if you think I'm out of line here. But we have considered something more like a green revolving fund that would negotiate these payments, instead of relying on actual building metering to generate the savings. By doing that, we would decouple some of the risk associated with what you're talking about be whether or increased occupancy, but still showing the avoid cost against the calculated based on

David Karlsgodt 14:40

got it, but right now you're using meters. And and and that's that's the, you know, kind of a reliable way of getting at it. And

Jesse Warren 14:46

it remains really important to us even today, because that's the level in which we interact with the customers utility bills, we're going to set the customers utility bills to that baseline. And we're going to repeat that year over year until we get to cost recovery that can be anywhere from two years on a spectacular project to 4, 6, 8 on a more typical one.

David Karlsgodt 15:07

No, that makes that makes total sense. But how I mean, I hate to dwell on this too much. But I just know how much blood sweat and tears I've put into trying to get at some of these questions, you know, just from a consulting perspective, not necessarily trying to manage it directly. But I find that in most cases, the building meter data that I see at universities is pretty rough. Yeah, did you guys spend quite a few years just getting your, your numbers and processes and like the tool set figured out first? Or has that kind of happened along the way, as you've added buildings, and you just didn't do it for the few buildings you were focused on or, I mean, Talk Talk to me about how that process, you know, laid out, we don't need to get into the nitty gritty of you know exactly how you did it. But just

Jesse Warren 15:50

so in, in broad strokes, we've got about 550 buildings on grounds, most of those buildings, our buildings, even though some of them may be a pump house or something like that. Regardless, they're all metered. And the reason they're metered is because we buy electricity at the substation level at about six cents a kilowatt hour, and we sell it back to our buildings at about eight cents a kilowatt hour. That means we own and operate all of the electrical infrastructure between the substation the building itself, but if we had our energy company bring power directly to that building, it would cost us close to nine cents a kilowatt hour. So we've been generating instant value for the university by taking on the strong energy and utilities enterprise. But in order to make that strong energy and utilities enterprise work, we needed to have strong metering in place. So we've had a metering and billing group who's been focused on this for years. And that gave us the opportunity to interfere with that process with Delta Force. I've told countless universities and other installations that they need good metering in order to put a program like this in place as for

David Karlsgodt 17:01

No, that makes sense. And it sounds like even just the delta between what you guys can get as a wholesale customer and what you would have to charge individual departments that they were to hook up directly to the utility, that difference would justify the metering by itself. I imagine that's a pretty big spread of price, right? There

Jesse Warren 17:18

it is. And so if you think about the rotunda in the lawn and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, we're serving all that from hot water and chilled water that's being generated elsewhere. There's no good place to hang a cooling tower on the rotunda.

David Karlsgodt 17:33

Yes, and the architects are appreciative that you didn't try. Right.

Jesse Warren 17:36

Agreed.

David Karlsgodt 17:38

Excellent. Okay. Know that I appreciate that. That's, that is maybe a little bit of a secret sauce that I think others can learn from. So, um, okay. Well, you mentioned that you've got slate roofs, and some, 200 year old buildings and things like that. How much of this work are you doing in house versus outsourcing, because it seems like there's some pretty specialized skill sets involved there.

Jesse Warren 18:02

Yeah, so we operate on sort of a zone maintenance perspective. So we've got about 10 maintenance zones who are responsible for the boots on the ground work and most of these buildings. And then we've got specialty shops. Those specialty shops consist of things like building automation or fire alarm. And we can deploy those resources from a central location. What we have done is we have worked with our local maintenance zones to identify what their capacity is. So for some zones, we can do a lot of electrical work. And we want to do all of that with them, because they take the most pride in the work that they've done, because they're the ones who have to go back and maintain it over time. If you think about my LED lighting change out, we want the maintenance zones to be engaged in that because they're the ones who are ultimately going to benefit from the reduced maintenance associated with LED, so they should know how to service and work on them. And by installing them, they can get there. We also focus on their essential shops for things like build automation. So in order to achieve the work that Delta Force has set forth, we have created this building optimization team. Now I don't want to take credit for this. This lives over an automation services because they've done a great job coming up with a team of cross functional HPC mechanics, pipe fitters, electricians who can controls technicians who can strip the pneumatic controls, often existing building and re install digital, while the customer is none the wiser. That is how we perform most of our work working with local maintenance zones or with our building optimization team to actually deploy these things. But when we need surgery, switching capacity will go out to outside vendors as well. So for instance, we recently did some lighting projects in residence halls, and those needed to be done in a very short time-frame. And so our maintenance folks were already busy doing other maintenance work during the shutdown. So we'll bring in outside subcontractors to do revamping electrical work, even mechanical work if it's a appropriate. But I would say our guiding focus is if we're going to be doing something in the longest term, we need to think about how we staff up to do it. If it's something that we're going to do temporarily, or that's not part of our core business, we look at how we shop it out.

David Karlsgodt 20:15

Okay, yeah, that makes sense. That seems like a reasonable way to make that determination. Stepping back, though, is something you just said, you know, something we get a lot of push back on when we talk to clients about this concept of a long range Efficiency Program is the actual getting people out of the buildings and the whole mechanics of it. You know, it's one thing to look at it on a spreadsheet, it's quite another to really think about how many buildings you're going to disrupt. But based on what you just said, it sounds like you can do this work without getting people out of the buildings. Tell me more about that.

Jesse Warren 20:46

Yeah, so for the most part, we can service these buildings while they're occupied. And a great example of that is Clark Hall. Clark Hall is the original School of Law on grounds. So it was built in about the 1930s. But around 2005, we built a large wet lab and library addition on to him. So we got the idea of why don't we look at that as an energy efficiency retrofit. And we were able to do a lot of the work with the building optimization team while the building was occupied. But that building has labs and it has lab hoods. And those lab hoods are used for noxious chemicals and things that otherwise shouldn't be breathed in. And we had to shut down those lab hoods, because we had people on the roof. And when the wind blew a certain way, or they stood in a certain place, they would get headaches or they would get killed. So we have to shut down buildings if things like lab ventilation is threatening the people who are doing the work. But under normal circumstances, they can do things like hotwire the return air temperature sensor so that you can run off that so that they can do the work they need to program their controllers in time.

David Karlsgodt 21:55

Got it. So yeah, major renovations you are still moving people out of at least portions the building, but for some of those things that you're doing again, and again, and again, as you work your way through work in technology through the buildings, right able to do it in segments. That makes sense.

Jesse Warren 22:10

So if we have for instance, a two week shut down, that might require four months of coordination to get all the pieces and parts in place, get the researchers out of their space so that we can shut the building down to do what we need to do temporarily.

David Karlsgodt 22:23

Got it? Um, let's talk about construction standards for building. So you have buildings going back 200 years, but you're building new spaces, I'm assuming as well. You're renovating buildings all the time? What type of standards do you have in place that guide how you know how good the building is going to be when you build something new or renovate something that you're renovating? Andrew, you want this one?

Andrea Trimble 22:46

Sure. So in terms of sustainability, UV has required LEED certification for several years. About two years ago, the Office for sustainability and partner ship with others across the University City started developing Green Building Standards. And these are both process oriented as well as prescriptive. The idea behind the standards was twofold really one that we go beyond the minimum requirements of lead to put in place minimum EV requirements for new construction and major renovations. But then also to enable a process that is collaborative and gets the UV owner, the various constituent stakeholders on the TV side, on the same page as to what the project goal should be and match against. So for example, similar to some other green betting Sanders at other universities, we have requirements for integrated design, setting goals early in the project. And then matching to those goals through energy modeling and lifecycle costing at each phase of design. We also put in place, minimum Eli energies intensity target or the building. So the way that we do this, instead of setting requirement, that's a percentage below ashtray, we set it up requirement that's 25%, below a baseline that we determined. So the way that we determine that baseline is we take buildings of like type at UVA, look at their meter performance, and then cut 25% off of that as the minimum target for new construction. And those went into place about a year ago. So we're starting to get some good feedback and some good metrics as to what's working well on that. And soon we'll have buildings constructed in in operation so we can measure the success of this different sort of energy target.

David Karlsgodt 24:32

Yeah. Is that because you have? I mean, it sounds like you have a lot of great information on your building. So you're able to do that I think people default to hash rate or something just as a standard. But is that is that part of why are you been able to do that as part of

Andrea Trimble 24:43

right? That's part of why so the having the good meter data for all these buildings? We were finding that? Because Yeah, because we're able to get much more specific on the building the next building types within a particular building. When we do that. We are hoping that we think we won't get much better predictions of energy consumption.

David Karlsgodt 25:04

Great. Yeah, no, that's and there, you can think about things like how does this deal with their district energy system versus just kind of a standalone building? Like you might run into an

ashtray standard? Okay.

Interesting. All right. Well, one other silly question I have is, is what's the Where did the name come from? You have this called this the Delta Force? Sounds like, I know, you guys aren't too far from a lot of military installations. But I don't think maybe where does the name come from? So delta t.

Jesse Warren 25:34

So yeah, that's a good question. I don't have the answer to that. I came from sustainability consulting around military installations before I came to UVA. So I'm pretty familiar with the term here. I think it started with the idea that we were chasing delta t, right. But over time, I think it's become, we are capturing the Delta in your utility bills. So if we can do use your energy expense by 25 percent? Well, that 25% comes back to us until we've recovered our investment. So in other words, we capture the Delta up until we're complete. So we have not yet decided which of those two stories is true. I've heard both.

David Karlsgodt 26:16

Yeah, whatever one pulls the best, I guess, right?

Jesse Warren 26:19

Depending on who you're talking to, at the moment.

David Karlsgodt 26:21

Perhaps it'll run for president as well. But

Great, okay, well, maybe let's switch out of the tactical a little bit. This program sounds amazing, and I think would be envied by many listening to this podcast that are in trying to get something similar set up at their own institution. But at some point, you had to get people to buy off on this. And, you know, I do this for a living, but getting non technical people to get excited about things like delta t, is not always the easiest thing to do. But somehow you guys have pulled this off. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got your administration on board,

Jesse Warren 26:57

I have experienced getting caught summers on board, and I came into the program after it already existed. What I can tell you is we have a track record of success and continuing that track record record of successes and everybody's best interest. But for us, I think it came down to having one sort of big win, that we could then parlay into other wins. So if you think about that project that we did over at Mr. For where we identified $400,000 worth of improvements that saved $800,000 a year, I would suggest finding something like that funding it and then figuring out how to get that funding to not return to the initial pocket. That's been a lot of the conversation we have is can you fund something out of one pocket, and then have it roll back into something different, like a revolving fund? And if you've got a quick win like that, where you can show the return on investment with doing so I think you've got a strong case.

David Karlsgodt 27:57

Interesting. Okay. Yeah, that'd be that. Having that kind of return, I guess, happening within one budget cycle, something like that, is that key, or,

Jesse Warren 28:07

or something on the two year, three year range? You know, I talked about Clark Hall. Now, Clark Hall is a big project. For us, we invested nearly $2 million in that between the Delta Force investment and the university's investment. But we managed to cut the building utility costs from $1.2 million a year to about $450,000 a year, saving 67% and about 750,000 a year. So the projects don't have to be small to be a quick win. That was a long win for us, but was a huge one.

David Karlsgodt 28:39

Right? Okay, now, that makes sense. But it also sounds like you had the data, the metering data in that information, and you're charging customers, is that a prerequisite to doing a program like this, do you think

Jesse Warren 28:53

I think the money has to come from somewhere. So I like the idea of holding that baseline and continuing to fund it as if that was real energy expense, because from the customers perspective, it would have been, I think a lot of the value that we bring is that we bring sort of a comprehensive project management solution, right, we come in, we say you don't have to do anything, you just have to agree to the things that we propose. And for the most part, facilities management can come in and perform the work. That's not to say people don't participate. And we don't, we do actively bring occupants into the work that we're doing. But if they so choose, we can perform that project transparently

David Karlsgodt 29:34

got it, they can choose to think about it just as Okay, you're going to make my bill go down and basically not get in my way, or they can be collaborative, and, and work with you.

Jesse Warren 29:41

So like at Clark Hall, for instance, we really focused on occupied engagement. We wanted to know what the occupants desired out of the project. And we also created materials like pledge boards and signage to explain what we done so that people could use that project to actively catalyze their behavior when they're within the building.

David Karlsgodt 30:01

Right. Okay, so communicating what actually happened versus just fixing the things behind the scenes. And nobody actually notices the difference. Maybe they aren't complaining as much, but it's still in the back of their mind.

Jesse Warren 30:10

That's right. So depending on what kind of when you want, it can be a quick low hanging fruit return on investment, we have advanced far enough that we're really focused on comprehensive building solutions that look at everything from building to building occupants. And how can we provide the best for our students and faculty?

David Karlsgodt 30:32

Yeah, how is that transition been going from those quick wins to that the deeper retrofits? Because I imagine you have different motivations, you have different. I mean, it's probably a lot of fun for you, personally, Jesse, I would imagine, right? Because that's what everybody wants to get to rather than just another lighting retrofit. I mean, not that we don't want to do those. But like, what is that? Just how does that feel different? Maybe it's a way I could ask that question.

Well,

Jesse Warren 30:58

let me look at it from the other end, you know, for everything that we fund we've got to pay for, right, so we have an account, and that account is allowed to go up to negative a million dollars, because the university understands that we're going to be spending money before we get it back. Right. So we started out with some money, we have now operated in a deficit. And that's okay with the university operating the deficit, because that's how we get to those bigger projects. When we start to bank money into our account, that tells me we're not doing enough, we're not going deep enough, we're not getting as much energy savings as we could, because we're not making as big investments as we can. So over the 10 year life of the program, we've seen two different swings, where we started to sort of accumulate money, and then realize that we could use that money to make deeper investments. So in the beginning, it was things like, retro commissioning, and it was things like low wattage fluorescent lights, and then we we started making enough money off that that we said, you know, we can move over to LED lighting, and we can start doing things like whole building, commissioning, and controls, replacements and upgrades. And that's what we do today. But even then, we started to see the account balance drop, when we started making more substantial investments. And then we saw the account balance rise again, once those investment starting to pay off. So today, we're in what I call the third phase of that, where we're really going into deep energy efficiency where we're given the opportunity. So that's LED lights. But that's also things like creating a smart labs program, where we can identify what is the safest and correct level of ventilation for the work that people are doing, and then tailor it accordingly. So to bring it back to your question, how do we get to deep energy efficiency projects, I would say it's happened in plateaus. we've, we've demonstrated success at each of these plateaus. And then once we've demonstrated success, we can keep doing the exact same thing. But our universities not asking us to do the exact same thing. They want us to hit aggressive goals, carbon energy, so we're being asked to do more and more.

David Karlsgodt 33:02

So when when you're talking to administrators, now I know you mentioned you weren't really there when the program got set up. But how much do they think about this? or How did they message it? Do you feel like, you know, it's a talking point in speeches they're just reading off? Or is it something that they've really internalized and couldn't really articulate in, you know, in their own way, as administrators,

Jesse Warren 33:22

I'm the ones who are active participants really see the value. Because in the example of Clark Hall, you know, we put $2 million into that building, but we're saving three quarters of a million dollars a year. So by the time we finished our project, we were almost done with our cost recovery. And that frees up money that they can use for faculty for spaces, whatever they need. I would say that spending money on energy is not the highest and best use of dollars at the university. So how can I reduce that?

David Karlsgodt 33:49

Right? Okay, so and then they're able to say it that way. I mean, they're, they're parroting that message out there that which is amazing. That's great.

Jesse Warren 33:56

Yeah, so Arts and Sciences has been a tremendous proponent of ours, we've done many good projects together like that Clark Hall. And so the Dean of Arts and Sciences, as well as our President Jim Ryan recorded sort of congratulatory messages for our Clark Hall celebration, where we celebrated the LEED certification, the building and brought all the occupants back together to sort of show them what they've done.

David Karlsgodt 34:22

Great. So instead of being a cost center, and oh, no, this facility guys are coming back with another big house of money, they're looking at you, as, you know, an investment, a place to invest to focus on the mission of the university, and

Jesse Warren 34:35

they can reduce their energy spend. And they can also reduce their maintenance spend. And both of those are wins, I will recover some of the energy spend immediately, but the maintenance is greatly. So that's just a pure win for them. So when I come back, and I fix systems that are broken, or we put an LED lights where we had fluorescence before, they're going to benefit from that reduced mate and savings on day one, then they will benefit from the reduced energy savings after the project recoveries complete.

David Karlsgodt 35:05

Alright, well, one other systematic setup question was you tell me a little bit more about the billing process? So it sounds like you're charging departments, I assume you've got, you know, auxiliary, non core University components that are also using energy. How do you It sounds like you're acting like utility, what does that look like from various departments on campus when they when interacting with your team?

Jesse Warren 35:31

So we've always had auxiliaries on grounds like Housing and Residence Life, athletics, and things like that. And they've always been self supported. Right. So housing Residence Life is funded through tuition fees, or however that works. But the university used to be centrally funded. And about five years ago, we made a switch away from that into responsibility centered management. So now, we've said that you the department are responsible for that building, not never, they're responsible for the maintenance of it, but you're responsible for the energy consumption, and the spend associated with that, I think part of the intent there was to give local control to that money, so we can do a better job of managing it. One of the realities for the Delta Force program is we went from having one big customer to a whole lot of customers, right. And so now I've got to sort of develop a track record of success with each one of them, and then work through their building portfolios from start to finish in order to get to the success that they need.

David Karlsgodt 36:30

That's an interesting point, because it means instead of just pleasing the folks that sign, sign your check at the top of the food chain, you really have to act more like an internal business. And that's right, customer service and things like that. Yeah,

Jesse Warren 36:44

that's right. We're very customer focused here. You know, we all agree to work together. But in many ways, facilities management services could be replaced with services from the outside. So it's by far in our best interest to keep those customers pleased with what we do.

David Karlsgodt 37:01

Yeah, but but you're still with working within the bounds of the new chair of the mission of the university as well, rather than just outsourcing your entire energy system for precisely

Jesse Warren 37:09

right. And that gives us opportunities to engage with folks outside the University, the University of Virginia foundation is interested in our services, we may not be able to provide funding there, but if we can help our land holding arm make good decisions about energy and climate that's

David Karlsgodt 37:24

in everyone's best interest. Interesting. Yeah. So you're not limited by really narrow scope, you can expand that within what makes sense in the bigger picture of the university's goals. And that is,

Jesse Warren 37:34

the biggest thing that I love about my job is that we have the freedom and flexibility to identify what is the best path forward for the university, as opposed to being prescribed to a specific one?

David Karlsgodt 37:49

No, I really liked that point. I mean, as a small business owner, and entrepreneur, you know, appreciate the ideas of people being motivated to do good work and, you know, serve customers. And you know, that the essence of sort of American capitalism from that perspective, but I recognize, you know, it doesn't always give you the outcomes that you want. So it sounds like you have a really interesting hybrid for your job where you're within, you know, essentially a state agency, but operating like a business. That's right, but not, but not in a way that you're just cutting costs to the nth degree. That's, I think, where it's been abused over, you know, as as privatization and some of those trends that have gone on over the last couple of decades. That's it, it's not that it's something in between,

Jesse Warren 38:29

you know, I'm an energy engineer. And I've got four energy engineers on my team, I started out as one of those energy engineers and was eventually promoted over top of the group. For me, it's very important that we're out there making these kinds of improvements. And we have a professional reputation that we have to uphold. And that's what's been able to get us I feel into these spaces in these departments. If one customer sours on our work, I can guarantee you that many customers will sour.

David Karlsgodt 39:03

got us you have people holding your feet to the fire, but you've got, you know, the passion and mission driving you to make sure that you do that, which is a really powerful mix. Oh, that's great. Great. Yeah. You know, Andrea, we've, we've neglected you for a little while. But you're more you're less than the day to day of the maintenance aspects of this, I assume. But from a sustainability perspective, how does that fit in?

Andrea Trimble 39:26

Right, so you may set up his Board of Visitors set a greenhouse gas goal in 2011, and then followed it up with a reactive nitrogen goal in 2013. So UVA was the first university to set a nitrogen goal, and since that others have followed on and UVA has been a partner in nitrogen planning. So those were sort of our two foundational goals. And then in 2016, we launched our first five year plan, which included 23 goals and over 100 actions. So as we check towards those goals to forge plays a big role in the particularly the greenhouse gas goal, the nitrogen goal, and we've also signed on to that that our Buildings Challenge goal to reduce energy's intensity by 2020, below 2010 levels by 20%. So we've seen significant strides, particularly on the greenhouse gas side. In Progress, we've reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by about 19%, since 2009, despite very extensive growth, and a lot of that has been attributable to energy efficiency through Delta Force. So the program is a really important part of achieving our quantitative goals. And then Jesse spoke a little bit about how we engage the individuals within the buildings, we also have a strong engagement goals as part of the sustainability plan and all that awareness building as part of our approach to sustainability.

David Karlsgodt 40:49

Yeah, how does that all fit together? Are you it, you know, just talk me through the organizational structure, who's in charge of engagement is that part of the Delta Force program is sustainability over over the Delta Force program or the other way around or? So it fit together?

Andrea Trimble 41:04

Sure. Our office for sustainability has two sides, really. So we have about half the number of staff on each side. One side is focused on outreach, engagement communications, with across the university, Pan University. So we have a manager over that group, and communications person, several outreach people, green labs, a staff member. And then on Jesse side, he has energy engineers, the energy engineers work, some on outreach and engagement, but the dedicated programs are really on that reach engagement side. So we have a green workplace program for staff a green living program for housing, buildings, green labs program for lab spaces, and there's slightly different approaches, terms of outreach and awareness on each of those types of individuals or building types.

David Karlsgodt 41:50

Great, and how is that funded? Or is it all one big bucket or

Andrea Trimble 41:55

so they're essentially sort of two 3%. Very funding sources, I guess, that we're working with right now. One is just you described the revolving nature in savings from the first program. And that's what funds our engineering side, the outreach side is funded through a very small portion of the electricity rates are just you mentioned the delta between what comes into the substation, and what we charge the buildings, a small piece of that is office for sustainability. But a lot of that is other aspects of overhead type things. And then the third is when we launched our sustainability plan in 2016, we were allocated $3 million dollars from in central funding from the university, for the university committee on sustainability to manage so through that funding, we've been able to pilot a lot of projects, across our approach, have engaged or discover, so our engagement programs, our stewardship programs, which move us towards our quantitative goals, and then our discover programs, which are teaching and research and using the grounds of the learning.

David Karlsgodt 43:00

Okay, so you're but you're, you're getting a little bit of the money from some of the things that we've been talking about with the Delta Force program, but there's also central funding and did that come later or beginning? Or are they completely disconnected or

Andrea Trimble 43:14

they're pretty disconnected. So data for is pretty much funding that that side of the office, whereas the energy and utilities essentially report through operations and facilities is funding, the average engagement communication side of our office, including my position. And then the central funding came in 2016. Through sort of our governance structure, which is our university committee on sustainability, and they, when we work with them to allocate those funds through to individual projects, and initiatives that move us towards our goals.

David Karlsgodt 43:49

So Jesse, how how does Andrews team or this, you know, the sustainability aspect of the university? interact? From your perspective?

Jesse Warren 43:57

Yeah, so I mean, we all work as one big collaborative office. Many times we need things from the outreach engagement and communication side, and they need things from us to green Labs is sort of a perfect example of that, because neither of us would be successful in reducing the environmental impact of laboratories from an infrastructure and personal perspective, if we can only work on one half of that.

David Karlsgodt 44:21

Got it. So you're not just working to save energy, you've got a little broader mission than that.

Jesse Warren 44:27

I meet with a lot of people and a lot of people have varying motivations for what it is that they do uncomfortable if they just want to save money, but other people have more aspirational goals. And that's where we have sort of a variety of customers across the university. Some people are interested in good indoor air quality, and how do we manage climate as best we can others are interested in how do we squeeze a buck out of it? And once they've done that, hopefully, we can lead them further down the path.

David Karlsgodt 44:53

Great. Yeah, fair enough. Andrea, I think my next question goes to you. This is fairly wide open. But thinking about just where you are, what's unique about your sustainability work in the context of Charlottesville,

Andrea Trimble 45:07

I think there are a few different things at play, I think in terms of our position within Virginia. We're sort of centrally located in Virginia. And while we're starting to see the increasing impacts of climate change, and rainfall and heat and weather, weather related impacts, we don't have the imminent threat of sea level rise. But we do have a position as a University of Oxford University within the state to understand the impacts on our state. So there's a one of the ways that we translated that into action is we have a large environmental resilience institute that has a one of the key components is coastal resilience. So we have been tailoring our sustainability programs to what's not just the need, and the impacts in our immediate region, but also in our larger, larger state. Another aspect is, increasingly, and this isn't, this isn't unique to Charlottesville at all. But increasingly, as our programs have grown, we've seen much more deliberate, intensive conversations around equity, inclusion and race in relation to the environment, such as the environmental justice, impacts, and general diversity of perspective in our sustainability conversations. So sure, this video has been sort of a focus area, a lot of these equity issues and conversations but it's not, these conversations aren't unique, and these problems aren't unique to Charlottesville is something that every community really United States should be grappling with. So we've been in terms of sustainability really trying to understand how do we ensure that the decisions we make proactively or in reaction to problem are achieving the best outcomes for every type of individual that interacts with the NBA.

David Karlsgodt 47:08

So we don't just get to make Jesse's customers happy. We're thinking about the whole region and and the broader aspects of the work you're doing that make sense.

Jesse Warren 47:16

So an example of that would be how we're working through the climate action planning process with Albemarle county in Charlottesville. You know, Charlottesville is a smaller than Albemarle County, only about 40,000 people compared to about 100. But we're working sort of collaboratively collaboratively across all three entities, UVA, Charlottesville and Albemarle County, to at least have coordinated messaging around climate goals, and maybe in the future, some shared milestones.

David Karlsgodt 47:44

Yeah, that's interesting. I think we're seeing a lot more of that around the country of universities taking the lead on those kinds of conversations, because we see, I think, you know, not every university, but many universities have been doing this type of work for at least a decade now. Well, cities are still kind of catching up in a lot of ways. I mean, there are exceptions, some of the cities have lived for a lot longer, as well. But

Jesse Warren 48:06

yeah, I would say that here, we've been committed in our cities and counties have been committed to climate action for a long time. I'd say we're an active participant in that, because we certainly want to make sure that we're we have a seat at the table, but they have plenty of their own direction leadership to make sure this gets done.

David Karlsgodt 48:24

Right. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. What where do you see the overlap in the collaboration? Is it you know, the Regional Transportation type type issues? Or, you know, what are some examples of that? Because I'm, you know, they don't really care about the delta T of your chilled water system, for example, direction, right? I mean,

Jesse Warren 48:40

I would say the value that we bring is twofold. One, we have an experience in doing these kinds of action plans, right? We've got action plans for our greenhouse gas emissions. And now it's time to work with our communities to develop that to the other thing, place where we can really collaborate is on expertise around climate solutions. So in our office, we've got a lot of expertise around Solid Waste Management, composting, recycling, energy, efficiency, renewable energy. So we go out into the community, and we lead working groups or energy sector Task Force is related to how we manage those assets, or manage that infrastructure.

David Karlsgodt 49:17

Great. So you're truly being the educators on these topics. Because you've been doing this work internally, you've got, you've tried out all the different ways of recycling and the different signage, that kind of thing. And you're able to share that knowledge with the community.

Jesse Warren 49:30

That's right. And when you think about it, these are Community Solutions, right? If we have one way of recycling here at UVA, and a different way of recycling, and people get off grounds, they need to at least understand that if we can't coordinate those two pieces, and the same goes for energy infrastructure.

David Karlsgodt 49:46

Do you see that there are some issues that cities and counties are better suited to deal with that universities really aren't? I mean, like, I guess the example that comes to my mind would be Regional Transit issues, just you know, you don't control the retreats transit system. But beyond that, are there other things like that?

Jesse Warren 50:04

I think a lot of the collaboration, and leadership will come on things like renewable energy, because they have the opportunity to encourage things, loan program by downs, financial mechanisms, taxes, even, that can encourage people to make those kinds of decisions. You know, at UVA, we're really good at directly investing in infrastructure. But we don't really have that opportunity in the same way in the community.

David Karlsgodt 50:30

Yeah, you can't do you can't really deal with things like changing the mix of power coming into the substation, or things like that on your own right, precisely.

Jesse Warren 50:37

So we've got to work together. And are there places where the counties and cities are further along? Well, absolutely. They're better at working with their constituencies and helping us understand that because they're going to have to convince these people to do things that the university could mandate.

David Karlsgodt 50:53

All right, well, hopefully, we've covered the highlights of your Delta Force program. And I think I can say it's very, very impressive. I think many people listening to this will be envious of what you've been able to achieve. And, and you may have some people vying for your job, Jesse in particular, I think a lot of people that work in this space, wish they had the tools that you have at your command, I'm sure you got plenty of hard work. But, man, I know, it sounds like you're awesome, Jeremy, I

Jesse Warren 51:19

opine for a minute. We you bring up two points. The first is I'm part of the Delta Force team because of the cost recovery model. When I came to you, the A, I was worried that I was going to have to fill out a requisition form to do a project in the next budget year and things like that. And that told me that I wasn't going to have a big impact. But what I learned is things like the Delta Force model that allow our funding to revolve makes sure that our impact is significant, and its immediate. And I think there's others that are attracted to that. With that being said, we are currently hiring for an energy and sustainability engineer. So if somebody is interested in being part of our team, look on our UVA website, the jobs platform is called work day. And in there, you'll be able to search for energy and sustainability engineer.

David Karlsgodt 52:08

Got it, you're hiring. So you're not worried about somebody taking your job. You're just trying to fill out your team, but

Jesse Warren 52:13

I'm looking for the smartest and most capable person to come work for us who can take my job.

David Karlsgodt 52:19

All right, well, that's this is the now sponsor of our episode here is job posting. The other thing I was going to mention there, though, is that sounds like also, if there's an administrator out there that wants to set up a program like this, that is a key thing to attract folks like you, they get to do this great work. If they want to attract the dynamic thinkers you need it, they need to set up the systems in such a way that you can be successful. That's right. requisition forms being the lead on that for sure. Great. Okay, well, yeah, anything as we just wrap up, I mean, that's, that's a lesson learned right there. But other lessons learned you'd like to share with folks, as we kind of pulled the threads together here,

Jesse Warren 52:58

I've got to that I've Well, maybe three that I've learned from experience. The first is that technology changes really, really fast. So when you think you're going to get a really good deal on buying a bunch of lights for this building, and the Let's buy some extra lights for this building this building this building, so that we can get a price break. By the time you're finished doing that last building, the technology will have moved so much that you're going to want either a different product, or you're going to be paying significantly different prices for the products that you have. The another big takeaway for us is having a longer view of the building's themselves. There was a time when we were really looking at individual opportunities and saying, How can we fix this? And that meant we were chasing all of our big problems and all of our big energy hogs. But at some point, we kind of chilled out and realize that the answer isn't to get everything as fast as possible. The answer is to get every building on grounds at the time that's appropriate. So there was a building on grounds that had electric resistance heat. And so we were adamant that that needed to be created heat pump, and we got a heat pump put in and about the time that that system is going to achieve its payback, the building was demolished. So that didn't really represent the kinds of savings I want to give to the university, which are long, persistent savings over time,

David Karlsgodt 54:14

right? Yeah, hopefully that wasn't a big building.

Jesse Warren 54:17

Now, it was a little warehouse storage space. But again, it was a lesson.

David Karlsgodt 54:23

Andrea, what same question to you again, you were the one that brought this to my attention in the first place, which thank you very much for doing so this has been really fascinating talking with Jesse and this whole program, but like, what have you learned from your perspective?

Andrea Trimble 54:35

Jesse has hit on it a few times already. I think it's the stakeholder engagement piece being so important. We really focus on collaboration and our purchase. So I think it's really important that everyone who is involved in the project gets the proper recognition. And then I asked, I think that is important that the occupants understand the impact that the project has, and how they can continue to help achieve getting savings through day to day conservation.

David Karlsgodt 55:04

Very good, very good. Well, as I said before, and I will say, again, super impressive what you guys are doing here, using the expression, if if it exists, it's possible. I think your story helps maybe dispel a lot of myths that other organizations that you know, maybe have seen a program like this done on paper, or in theory in a spreadsheet somewhere but you know, really don't believe it's possible to do. But your story shows that it can be done indeed, any any last pitch any other job opportunities that he VA, we should be telling our listeners about her thank

Andrea Trimble 55:38

thanks so much for having us. We really appreciate it, we always are happy to share any of the tools and resources that we create. And we're always happy to talk to people. So if anyone is interested in talking through their own setup at their school, and what may be possible and what we've learned in more detail and how our program works, and more detail, we're always happy to do that. Always happy to share templates.

David Karlsgodt 56:03

That's great. And I'll be sure to include ways to get in touch with you and links to resources etc. in the show notes. Yep. Great, Jesse, any final thoughts?

Jesse Warren 56:14

Now I really appreciate y'all having us on the show and we look forward to maybe talking to you again.

David Karlsgodt 56:19

That's it for this episode. To learn more. You can always see the show notes at our website at Campus energy podcast. com. You can follow us on Twitter, we are at energy podcast. The show is a free service, but if you'd like to support the show, please consider leaving a rating or review on iTunes or just telling a friend about the show. As always, thanks for listening

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Episode 16: One Lab’s Trash is Another Lab’s Treasure: Reducing Waste and Increasing Reuse at Northwestern University

Julie Cahillane  (left)  Garry Cooper  (right)

Julie Cahillane (left) Garry Cooper (right)

Guests:
Julie Cahillane
Sustainability Associate Director
Northwestern University

Garry Cooper, PhD
Co-founder/CEO
Rheaply, Inc.

Host: Dave Karlsgodt
Principal, Fovea, LLC

Production Assistance:
Kaia Findlay and Animesh Bapat

Any kindergartener can recite the lesson that ‘sharing is caring.’ For youngsters, this just means it’s nice to let someone else play with their favorite toy. But for Garry Cooper, sharing plays a crucial role in caring for the planet and finding solutions for waste reduction and efficient resource use.

Inspired by the copious amounts of wasted lab equipment he encountered as a Ph.D. student, Cooper founded Rheaply, Inc., a startup that now helps universities and other institutions across the world reuse and recycle by sharing unused and unwanted lab equipment with other labs. From glassware to antibodies, you’ll learn some of the logistics behind trading world class research equipment all with a focus on sustainability.

The success of Rheaply, Inc.’s pilot at Northwestern University is framed by Julie Cahillane, Sustainability Associate Director at Northwestern University. Her breakdown of the waste produced by research institutions showcases the important role of sustainability in labs across the nation. She’ll go into what it takes to institutionalize sustainability at the university level and teach you how your institution can empower people like Garry Cooper on your campus.

Episode 5: Exploring the nexus of sustainability and research with My Green Lab

Guest:  Allison Paradise, My Green Lab
Host: Dave Karlsgodt, Principal, Fovea, LLC

Allison Paradise, Executive Director at My Green Lab

Allison Paradise, Executive Director at My Green Lab

In this episode, Dave interviews Allison Paradise, Executive Director at My Green Lab. Allison explains the history of the organization, their recent efforts to get an ENERGY STAR designation for Ultra-low temperature (UTL) freezers, an exciting new nutrition-like labeling program for research products and equipment as well as My Green Lab's broader work promoting sustainable practices in the scientific research community.

 

Web Resources:

Episode Transcript:

The following is an automated transcription of this episode which will include errors and omissions. You can listen and follow along with the text here:

https://otter.ai/s/cI5YGRNSRpWW69TPgQzjUQ

Transcript Text:

Dave Karlsgodt 0:00

Welcome to the campus energy and sustainability podcast. In each episode, we'll talk with leading campus professionals, thought leaders, engineers and innovators addressing the unique challenges and opportunities facing higher ed and corporate campuses. Our discussions will range from energy conservation and efficiency to planning and finance, from building science to social science, from energy systems to food systems. We hope you're ready to learn, share and ultimately accelerate your institution towards solutions. I'm your host, Dave Karlsgodt, I'm a principal at Fovea, an energy carbon and business planning firm. In this episode, you will hear my interview with Allison Paradise, who is the executive director at My Green Lab. Allison has chosen to take on an important but often neglected aspect of sustainability. The research lab space, her nonprofit focuses on fundamentally permanently improving the sustainability of scientific research. In our interview, you'll hear more about her recent success and getting an ENERGY STAR designation for all low temperature freezers, an exciting new program to provide nutrition like labeling for laboratory products and equipment, as well as how My Green Lab is helping scientists better align their work with their desire for a more sustainable world. I hope you enjoyed this discussion with Allison Paradise. So Allison, maybe you can start us off by giving us some background on how you came to create the nonprofit migraine lab and how you got interested in sustainability specifically focused on scientific research.

Allison Paradise 1:29

Sure, so thank you so much for having me. It's really it's a pleasure to be here. And to share this story with you. This whole thing actually started back when I was 17. Believe it or not, many, many years ago, I grew up in Connecticut. And I'd gotten an internship at a pharmaceutical company about an hour or so from my parents house. It was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. And I got up really early in the morning, I drove to work, I felt very grown up because I was commuting with all these commuters, it gets to the lab, they sit me down and say right, you're going to do an experiment today. And I was really feeling very excited because I thought they would have me read or something the first day or maybe shadow somebody, but no, they gave me they gave me a sample of blood. And they said look, what we need to do is we need to separate out all the different cells in this. And we're going to do this experiment called facts, which is stands for lesson Lee activated self sorting. So I get to my bench, I start doing the experiment. And I realized I'm going through a lot of pipe Pat tips, a lot of them. Some of them are hazardous. So I throw them in hazardous waste. But the boxes and a lot of the other tips that I was using, they only touched water, or PBS and I thought, well, I can recycle these. So I'm looking around, I'm trying to find a recycling bin and there's just there isn't one. And I'm like, well, maybe I'm just missing it. Maybe it's not in my little area. Maybe there's a general recycling center, I can bring all this to so I kind of save it all. We go through the whole experiment at the end of the day, and I'm getting ready to go home. And I realized I still haven't found the recycling bin. So I go to the PI, and I say to her, right, so where's the recycling bin and I just have to recycle these and then I can head out. And she's kind of looking at me like, I'm not sure if I should be taking you seriously right now is she is she trying to make a joke? Like her face was just so confused. And I'm looking back at her also so confused, because it seems to be a relatively simple question. I've got a lot of plastic it belongs in the recycling bin. Where is that? And she just looked at me. She goes, we don't we don't recycle here. Everything's incinerated. And I, I couldn't really compute that. I just said, Wait, what? No, no, but this is just plastic. We don't have to. I mean, we don't have to incinerate it. It's totally fine. And she's like, No, we really everything gets incinerated here. And she takes all of this stuff from each takes the beaker that had the pipettes, she takes all the different pipette boxes. And she just chucked them all in the trash. She hands me back the beaker and she's like, this is dirty now please go wash it. And I'm just horrified. My heart is breaking. I can't believe I just threw away that much plastic. I don't think growing up that we were particularly environmentally minded. I think we just, we was just assumed, though, that we would recycle. Because of course you would recycle. And it just makes sense. And so for me to get into that environment, and have that not be an option was really, yeah, well, it didn't feel good at all. So after that, that whole summer. And then basically for the rest of my career working in labs, which was another almost 10, 15 years, I just would take the plastic with me home, anything that I that I thought could be recycled, I would take it home and put it in my home recycling bin, which I subsequently found out is really terrifying for the people who take your home recycling, like you should should not be putting patio boxes in that I just assumed they wouldn't that nobody really looked at it. And it would just be plastic, but actually, sometimes that can be designated as medical waste and, and actually, then all the recycling gets thrown away, which also doesn't make any sense that we would freak out that something might be medical waste, and so we put it in the ground. But that's a whole other story. But anyway, for the longest time, I was just taking things back with me and I had this car full of just plastic from the lab. And and yeah, and then, you know, I kept thinking somebody would do something about this, that, you know, it's it had been 10 years of me working, I did my undergraduate I took a couple years off, I did work when I went to graduate school, nothing, still no recycling whatsoever in the labs, then I worked as a consultant for a few years and still no changes. And I just thought, you know what, this is ridiculous. I mean, really, somebody should do something about this. And, and I thought, you know what, I've been waiting for a long time for somebody to do something about this in nobody has, so I'm going to do something about it. And that's how the nonprofit got started.

Dave Karlsgodt 6:05

It's interesting, because you talk in your story just now about waste. But I know in seeing you at the California higher education sustainability conference recently, you were talking more about energy use and labs, particularly low temperature freezers. So how did you make that switch from waste to energy? Or is that a switch or just an addition?

Allison Paradise 6:25

Yeah, that's a good question. I would say it's an addition, not so much a switch, although although definitely does seem to be the focus of the organization at the moment. We were about two weeks old when I attended my first California higher education sustainability conference, or CHESC, as it's known out here. And, and we were since we were startup nonprofit, we really didn't have a lot of money to attend the conference. So I volunteered. And as a volunteer, I was asked to sit in on a session that was talking about energy consumption on campuses. And I go to this session, and I should, I should actually put the visual for people because it's, it's actually very funny, I had gotten to the volunteer station earlier that day, to get my volunteer t shirt. And I'm not a very large person. So I wanted to make sure I would get a T shirt that would fit and they said, Oh, no, your shift doesn't start till the afternoon. Don't worry about picking up the shirt. Now, come back in the afternoon, we'll definitely have a size small for you. No, no problem. So okay, so I spend the morning walking around talking to vendors. And I come back in the afternoon to get my T shirt. And literally all they have left are like XXLs. I mean, the thing is just massive on I could I was like a dress. And so I'm wearing this huge t shirt where the sleeves are coming down to my elbows, and the bottom of it comes down to like my knees. I look like a kid dressed in their parents clothing. And I'm like, I could have this very small head and this massive t shirt. I go and I sit in on a session where they're talking about saving energy and laboratory buildings. And, and every person keeps talking about how laboratory buildings use, you know, 60%, 50 or 60% of all the energy on campus, but they only occupy 20 or 30% of the space. So it's this very outsized energy consumption, relative to the amount of space that they that they actually take up. But everybody said, we can't do anything about that. Because scientists are very special people. And they're doing highly specialized research. And we don't want to disrupt their research. So instead, we're going to focus all of our efforts on the other 40% or 50%, on our campus, such as offices and dorms, etc. And I'm listening to people keep saying this over and over again. And I like that. No, that's wrong. Of course, you can talk to scientists about energy. I mean, it's not something I'd ever thought of, which is embarrassing to say. And I think most scientists don't think about it in their daily lives. But if you were to mention it to them, I don't think that they would come back to you and say, No, absolutely not. We never want to think about energy efficiency. It's just not something that occurs to them. So after listening to, you know, the three presentations, where they say, we don't want to talk to scientists, and then listening to the question answers where people are saying, Yeah, we also are afraid of talking to our scientists. I just thought we should, I mean, again, we should do something about this. So I raised my hand, and I look absolutely ridiculous. I'm in my volunteer uniform dress shirt. And I say, you know what our nonprofit addresses energy efficiency and laboratories, we work with scientists to reduce energy consumption. It wasn't strictly speaking true at the time, but it felt like something that we could easily do. And so I figured, let's just, we'll just do that. And as soon as the session ended, I had all these people come up to me and give me their business cards, they were so excited, they said, We want to work with you. And I thought, Oh, this is great. Now I just have to work out what it is that we need to do. But it's seemed, you know, it seemed like it was there was a real need to help scientists in this way. And, and as a former scientist, it just felt like it would be relatively simple for us to figure out how to message to them so that they could understand the problem and actually do something to address it. So yeah, I raised my hand. And it was from there that I made connections with a guy at UC Davis, Alan Doyle, who is really kind of the father of the green labs movement. And I met the head of business development for kW engineering at the time, Andy Bayowski. And the three of us got together at the western cooling efficiency center following that conference, and started brainstorming, what can we do to reduce energy consumption in labs and this idea of plug loads and minus 80, or ultra low temperature freezers kept coming up. And that was how we started the Center for Energy Efficient Laboratories as an offshoot of that meeting, and how we kind of went down this path with energy. And I think the reason it seems like we do a lot in energy is just, we got into something that was a lot bigger than I realized it was going to be. And it just kind of engulfed us for a little bit. But it's definitely a part of our message, not the entirety of the nonprofit. And so that's how we ended up getting into the energy space. So completely random. And I still to this day, can't believe anybody took me seriously in that outfit. It was so ridiculous.

Dave Karlsgodt 11:24

Do you still have the T shirt?

Allison Paradise 11:26

Oh, yeah, I definitely have the T shirt. I had to keep the T shirt. It was my lucky shirt. But I can't wear it out in public, it still looks ridiculous on me.

Dave Karlsgodt 11:36

Excellent.

Allison Paradise 11:37

I never really grew into it.

Dave Karlsgodt 11:39

Now, that's an interesting story. It's funny how, you know, just standing up and raising her hand all of a sudden, can send you off in a totally new direction. And I think too often people are too scared to raise their hand so good for you? Well, so. So once you got back, and you know, you had this nonprofit setup, and you had focused on mercury and waste, if I understand it correctly, and then you came back? And how did you switch the structure of your organization to then focus on energy directly? I mean,

Allison Paradise 12:05

um, that's a good question. So actually, it was not that difficult, because we were so new, for me to go back to the board and say, Look, actually, if we want to address sustainability in labs, it has to be holistic, it can't just be looking at waste. And they all agreed with that. So really, we expanded our focus to include all the main pillars of sustainability, and labs, energy, water waste, and green chemistry. And we did that all within the first month of the inception of the organization. And it just made sense, you really want to educate people and, and help them make an impact in their workspace, it really needs to be a comprehensive message. And at the time, we were working on a green lab certification, which we've subsequently launched, and it's been around now for three years. But at that time, we were working on this certification. And so it was a natural fit to just plug in the energy work to plug in the water to add in the green chemistry, so that we kind of came up with a comprehensive guide for laboratory spaces. So actually, yeah, it was not that difficult to to add that in, because we hadn't really done very much, within the first couple of weeks, mostly, it was just setting the groundwork, you know, filling out the paperwork, etc. From there, we had to fund this idea of wanting to look at energy consumption and labs, that was really the next big hurdle. So the the I kind of adding it into our mission and putting it into the vision of the organization, that part was easy. But then how do you actually do something about it. So we had these ideas about us wanting to create rebates for laboratory equipment that in the same way that at your home, you can get a rebate for energy efficient dishwashers, or an energy efficient washing machine or something like that. That was our vision for the Center for Energy Efficient laboratories that it would be a place where we could test products, provide recommendations to people for energy efficient equipment, and then work with utility companies to get rebates. Because we had this idea, but we needed to somehow fund it. And our initial thought was, we would use the same model that had been used previously in California, for the food service industry. So there's something called the food service Technology Center. It's funded by the California utility companies, specifically Pacific Gas and Electric, which is in Northern California, or pg&e. And what they do is they take products, they've been doing this for over 20 years, they take products from the food service industry, they test them, and they look at their energy consumption. And they make sure that they perform the way that they're supposed to perform according to spec. And then they give that information to the utility companies and back to the manufacturer. And the manufacturers can work to improve their energy efficiency. And then also they work with utility companies to develop rebates for the food service industry. So that model really appealed to us because we had a very similar set of circumstances in the lab where we have a lot of laboratory equipment, we don't really know how much energy it uses, we need that information in order to drive the market towards energy efficiency, and testing equipment and providing that information and feedback back to the manufacturers would be very valuable. And in addition, if we could develop rebates for laboratory equipment, that would be to me that would be the holy grail, because scientists are very mindful of the amount of money that they're spending. And it's very difficult to get them to purchase something that's a lot more expensive. But it's also energy efficient. The premium they're willing to pay for energy efficiency is not that high, it might be five or 10%. We needed to get this funded. So we thought the California utility companies would be a natural fit for this, given their work with the food service Technology Center. Andy and I. So Andy from kw, and I went up and down California meeting with utility companies, specifically Pacific Gas and Electric. So Cal Edison or St. Louis and San Diego Gas and Electric sdg&e. And we met with them for I would say at least a year. And the proposal that we gave to them was to start this whole center. So it was a proposal for I don't know, be three quarters, a million dollars, something crazy. And we had said we're going to test certain pieces of equipment that we knew use a lot of energy or kind of anecdotally, we figured they use a lot of energy, including also low temperature freezers or minus 80s autoclave. I think we might have had lasers in there, I can't remember there were a few other pieces of equipment. So after us banging on doors, and basically showing up on invited to people's offices. They said, Okay, look like we're kind of tired of seeing you will fund something, but we're not going to give you three quarters of million dollars, because we don't know who you are, we might be in love was very new. We were at this point, we were maybe six, eight months old, and kW had been around for a while, but they had no real credentials in this particular space. And so the utilities were like, Look, it, we can't just give you this, this isn't a lot of money. Also, they really weren't convinced that the laboratory market was a big enough market for them to get invested into. So restaurants seem pretty obvious, especially in California, there are a lot of them. But laboratories, they're a little bit hidden right there in all different types of market segments. So you've got them in universities, you've got them, obviously, in your biotech and pharmaceutical companies, their labs, and hospitals, their labs in industry. So Apple has a lab, IBM has a lab. I mean, there's all these all these spaces that are considered labs, but that the utility companies would never have broken out in that way. So they break out their markets, by University by academia, biotech, things like that. They don't break them out by research lab spaces. So they said to us, look, if you want us to fund something bigger than what you're going to have to do is demonstrate to us that there's a real market for this number one, and number two, that these spaces use a lot of energy, because it's just not worth it for us otherwise. So that's what we did, they gave us funding to do that. That was our very first study, it was published in 2015. And in that, we demonstrated that there were a lot of labs in the state of California, and they use a lot of energy, which, if you've ever been in a lab, it's very obvious. If you've never been in a lab, I guess was not so obvious. And we extrapolated all of that to the rest of the United States. So that we were able to kind of give a broader picture of, of what it looks like in the whole us. And we found something like 200,000 or more labs across the US. The amount of laboratory space in California, just in the life sciences industry was about 70% of the number of restaurants. So if you added back in what we would have said, you know, in the industrial market, so when I say life science, what I mean is academia, biotech, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals. It doesn't include those spaces like Ron would have, or Intel or Apple or those spaces, we would call those more industrial spaces. You added those back in the amount of square footage of love space in the state of California rivals the amount of square footage of restaurant space. Wow. I mean, it's huge. Yeah, it's a lot of labs. And I don't think California is that unique in that way. I mean, Massachusetts is very similar. And we found that, again, across the country, there's there's a lot of lab space. So when we gave that to the utility companies, they said, okay, right, yeah, now we agree with you, we're still not going to fund you for three quarters a million dollars. So we still don't have an actual center for the so the Center for Energy Efficient laboratories still exists only as a virtual center. But nevertheless, they gave us funding to do the next project, which was to look at also low temperature freezers, because we identified that as part of our market study as being something where there were a lot of them in the state. So we found there about 60,000 utility freezers in the state of California, the pretty conservative estimate. And then if you extrapolate that to the rest of the country, California usually represents about 10% of the country. So there's about 600,000 ish, you LTE freezers across the country. So there's a lot of them, we know that they use a lot of energy, because people had been metering them for a very long time. So each one uses about as much energy as a single family home, which is about 20 kilowatt hours a day. So it's a lot. And we knew that there were energy efficient models that had come out onto the market that were more expensive. So that means there's a solution. And there's an opportunity for rebate. So they just kind of fit all the right criteria. So we started looking at those as our next project. And we used the food service technology centers testing lab, because that existed as a place to test equipment, and they test refrigeration all the time for the food service industry. So it was just a perfect natural fit, we use their lab to do all of our testing for the wealthy freezers. So that's how we've been getting the seal off the ground is project by project using the food service technology centers testing facility, and also using AWS expertise and understanding how laboratory equipment interacts with the ventilation system in order to really provide an accurate picture of how much energy laboratory equipment is really using and what the benefits are for switching to something that's energy efficient.

Dave Karlsgodt 21:24

Okay. Okay, I got a couple of background questions and for you, so one is, you mentioned ultra low temperature freezers, what do they use for in a laboratory, you also mentioned autoclave. So just for, you know, people that are may not be familiar with laboratory spaces, can you just briefly describe what those are?

Allison Paradise 21:39

Absolutely. And thank you for calling me out on that. Sometimes, when you're in it so deep, it's hard to remember, it's hard to keep a perspective, you know, that not everybody knows what these things are. So also the temperature freezers, I grew up calling the minus 80s. And that's because that's the temperature they're set to. So they're tend to be typically set to minus 80 degrees Celsius, we've been calling them ultra low temperature freezers because well, obviously, there's such a very low temperature, but also because we have a movement in our organization and other campuses across the country have this movement to actually not keep them at minus 80. But instead to put them to minus 70. And that's for reasons of trying to save energy. And also, because the compressor doesn't have to work as hard if it's not such a such a low temperature. When I was first starting in lives, these freezers used to be set to minus 70. And then they kind of started creeping down lower and lower. Now, sometimes you see them set to minus 85, sometimes to minus 96, I've seen a few of them. So anyway, that's why they're called ultra low because they're very, very low. And they're colloquially called minus 80s. Because that's tends to be the temperature that they're set around. They use a lot of energy. And they are used in a laboratory space for long term sample storage. So if you have a sample that you need to keep around for more than a week or two, you'll usually put it there. And in particular, things like cell lines, RNA, any sort of tissues, anything to try to spend beds biological, and where you want to try to stop the biological activity. So you're trying to stop it from degrading, that's what those were used for.

Dave Karlsgodt 23:20

Is there anything special about the minus 80 VS minus 70? Is it like turning your amplifier up to 11? What's the why the extra 10 degrees?

Allison Paradise 23:30

You know, there isn't anything special about it. So when they first came out, actually, the very first set of cold storage for labs that was in this vein of being very, very cold, were set to minus 40, because that's as low as the compressors can go. And then when they started adding two compressors, well, then they could go lower, right, they could go to minus 80. Or in some cases, like I said, even lower than that, depending on the refrigerant and the type of compressor. So the original freezers were at minus 40, then they were set to minus 65, or minus two 70. And now they're going lower and lower, but not for any biological reason, there's actually been no studies demonstrating that samples are stored better at minus seven at minus 80 than a minus 70. Or that there's any detriment to samples when they're stored at minus 70, or VS minus 80. So we're in the process of trying to gather some data on all of this. And there is a longevity study occurring now in the UK. But I mean, people are going to want to see this over the course of 20 years. So in the meantime, anytime we have a lab that changes the set point on their freezer, we put their name and the samples that they're storing, and a database on our website, so you can just access that through our website. And it was started by CU Boulder, and Cathy Ramirez Aguilar, who's just phenomenal. She and Alan are just really wonderful, wonderful people in the green labs movement. So yeah, you can check that out. And that's that's how we've been trying to convince people to go to minus 70. because it saves about 40% of the energy. And like I said, the compressor doesn't have to work as hard. And that means the freezer might last a little bit longer and these expensive pieces of equipment, and they're storing valuable samples. So you don't want them to just, you know, up and die.

Dave Karlsgodt 25:07

Okay, but let me stop you there. You said they will save 40% of the energy by saved by changing the 10 degrees. Yeah, Isn't it crazy? 10 degrees. Yeah, that's very crazy. It's like, I suppose like you hear that about a car. I'll give you you know, drive at a certain speed. But then you accelerate more you you burn a lot more gas.

Allison Paradise 25:24

Yeah, it's amazing. I it blew me away. I think we'd always been quoting 20% based on what we'd heard from other people, but then we actually tested it. And for new freezers It was about I think, was 37% on average, savings. Yeah, is unbelievable. And so now I mean, honestly, when we did our report for the multi freezers, we demonstrated that changing the set point of the freezers to minus 82 minus 70 of the 10% of the freezers in the state of California, would save 26 million kilowatt hours a year. That's, that's nuts, right? Like, just this one. simples change, if we could just all agree to go back to as Alan likes to say, go back to the 70s and change everything to 70. Again, yeah, we could save a lot. And our freezers might last a bit longer, it would be really nice.

Dave Karlsgodt 26:14

And you could do that with existing, with existing equipment, you don't necessarily need to buy a new freezer to do that. Or are they kind of preset?

Allison Paradise 26:21

No, no, you can do it with existing equipment, you can just simply change the temperature.

Dave Karlsgodt 26:26

Wow. Okay. Well, that's great. Okay, so your one other question. Um, you also mentioned autoclave, it sounds like you've done most of your work on ultra low temperature freezers, not autoclave or not other some of the other types of equipment. Why, what what are those or why did you choose those over other things?

Allison Paradise 26:41

Okay, so autoclaves are... they're sterilisers, so they're steamed sterilizers. They're used to sterilize equipment. They're used to sterilize media and different types of reagents. And they're also used for hazardous waste. autoclave us a tremendous amount of energy and water, we we've done a lot of metering, UC Riverside actually did an excellent study on autoclave demonstrating the energy and water consumption of a standard autoclave versus an energy efficient and water efficient autoclave. And the results were staggering. But the reason we didn't start with them and other types of equipment are for a couple of reasons. So number one, they're more difficult to test, depending on the type of Article if some of them actually hooked up to the to a, like a chilled water loop or a loop inside of a building. And that makes them relatively challenging to test, especially if you're going to put them into a test facility.

Dave Karlsgodt 27:33

Part of the building rather than something, plug into the wall. Yeah. Okay, that makes sense,

Allison Paradise 27:37

although there are some that you can plug into the wall, but most of them are other kinds of are part of the building. And then the other reason was honestly, with when it came to also low temperature freezers, there had been something called a test method developed, we've been talking a lot about rebates and energy efficiency, but we haven't talked yet about ENERGY STAR in the EPA. And that's another big part of this, right? So it's, it's really helpful if we can get ENERGY STAR certification for laboratory equipment that helps feed into this whole idea of identifying energy efficient equipment, as well as obtaining rebates from the utility companies. So the EPA and Energy Star in order for things to qualify for Energy Star, they have to meet a certain set of guidelines. And those guidelines are created through testing equipment, the test that's done for equipment is something called a test method. And that test method has to be agreed upon by the industry, and ENERGY STAR before you can even move forward with the ENERGY STAR process. So a test method only existed for laboratory refrigeration, as well as for MRIs and CT scanners was the only two pieces of equipment or two product categories, I guess, that the EPA and ENERGY STAR have developed a test method for, which meant that we could take a freezer into our testing lab and test it according to the standard test method and give the results to the EPA and Energy Star, which is exactly what we did, if we were to work with another piece of equipment. And that's going to be our next phase, you know, when we start to work with autoclave and we start to work with no water bath, and lasers and all these other types of pieces of equipment, we're going to have to first develop a test method. And that process can take quite a while. So for in the case of also low temperature freezers, the test method development took about eight years was crazy. And then right and then for us to come in and get the manufacturers to agree to do the testing. And for us to get the funding and all of that that took another almost four years. So it was almost a decade's worth of work, to get Energy Star ratings for you, lt freezers to identify the energy efficient ones, and for us now to possibly hopefully get rebates here in California. So if you look at that process, and you're at a point where the utility can be say, right, we want to fund you to do something. Next, you're not going to pick something that doesn't have a test method to start with. That's why you're the freezer. So I mean, they fit like I said, they fit the bill in so many different ways. They, they use a lot of energy, there are a lot of them, there were energy efficient models, there happened to be this test method, the everybody's kind of excited and interested about them. And they're also really easy to understand. It's a freezer, right? It's I mean, it's just like the freezer in your home. Whereas some of these other pieces of laboratory equipment. autoclave I think are a little bit easier for people to understand because they tend to kind of equate them to being sort of similar to a dishwasher, those esteemed steriliser, but other pieces of laboratory equipment, there are no analogous pieces of equipment in another industry. And so they're also really hard for people to wrap their heads around why they would fund a study like that. So when I think about electron microscopes, for example, that's a very highly specialized piece of equipment, that requires a lot of explanation to get somebody to understand why that's important, how many of them there are, how you can tweak it to make it more energy efficient. It's just a lot more complicated. I think, for people, it's not as intuitive. And so we're trying to go with the easy intuitive things to just get the ball rolling and get the community excited about this idea of energy efficiency in laboratories. And then from there, we can tackle the harder things

Dave Karlsgodt 31:11

Make sense. Well, and I guess it's kind of like, I mean, you would never make an energy efficient drag car or something like that. Right. And for the purposes, limit the amount of energy they use the the there's a performance requirement there, which I'm sure it's true. A lot of lab equipment as well. But okay, if that makes sense. So all right, you mentioned the Energy Star rating. And it sounds like based on your presentation at the California higher education sustainability conference, you guys have worked your way through and the Energy Star rating, is there. Maybe tell us a little more about that. And also, I guess, curious, you mentioned earlier there, like 20 kilowatt hours per freezer per day, which is pretty staggering. I think my house uses about that. here in Seattle, I have electric heat. But what's the difference between an energy efficient freezer and then a non energy efficient freezer, there's like three questions or you can work with.

Allison Paradise 32:02

Okay, so I'll talk let's take the last one first. So the difference between an energy efficient freezer and a standard efficiency freezer is about 12 to 15 kilowatt hours a day. So it's really significant, really, really significant. And I think the most energy efficient, you LTE freezers that I've seen are somewhere in the neighborhood of six to seven kilowatt hours a day. And the ENERGY STAR standard is actually normalize two cubic feet. So it's point five, five kilowatt hours per cubic foot per day, which equals about 11 or 12 kilowatt hours a day for the standard size that we've been talking about. So there's sort of a standard size that when I'm quoting 20 kilowatt hours a day, obviously, they come in different sizes, the most common size is between 26 and 29 cubic feet. And those are the ones that are right around 23, there's there are some that are quite larger, and they use a bit more and some that are smaller, and they use a bit less. But that's that's Canada range. So if we talk about that range, yeah, the savings are really substantial. And Energy Start did issue that specification, that point five, five kilowatt hours per cubic foot per day. And the manufacturers that we've worked with have now been submitting their data to the EPA to get issued the Energy Star rating. And I know that Sterling ultra cold just received their Energy Star rating, which is awesome. And I would imagine that the thermo TSX is not far behind if they haven't already gotten it. So it's really great news, all of those, that information is now available on the EPA website. And now people can actually identify pieces of equipment that are energy efficient, which is really, it's really, it's really great that that's where we finally got it's, it's sucks that it took 10 years. But it's really great that that that's where we're at.

Dave Karlsgodt 33:48

If somebody at a university then would like to buy an Energy Star rated freezer, how would they go about doing that? I mean, not, they're obviously not going to go on Amazon and just buy one. But what, what what does that look like as I know, procurement in laboratory spaces is usually quite different than, you know, say, facility department buying, you know, paper towels with bathrooms or something like that, what does that look like?

Allison Paradise 34:11

Typically, people purchase larger pieces of equipment, you know, capital equipment through manufacturers or vendors. So they either go direct, or sometimes they go through a distributor. So if you want to purchase energy efficient freezer, you would just buy it directly from that manufacturer from the vendor. And they've been advertising quite a bit, the ones that are energy efficient. So I mentioned the sterling and the thermo or two that I know, have I or at least I think by now have their EPA Energy Star rating. And there's a third, I know for sure that's working on getting theirs and possibly a fourth. So those were also all be listed on the ENERGY STAR EPA website. So you can just go there and find them, make some models, and then directly contact those manufacturers. Although it's surprising, you should say Amazon, because Amazon actually is getting into the laboratory supply space. And I wouldn't be surprised if you started seeing these on Amazon pretty soon because I was looking for something the other day, I think it might have been a water bath, I forget what I was looking up, but it came up on it on Amazon. And I was shocked. So you never know, Amazon seems to want to be in everything, you know, so. But for now, for now you can buy them through manufacturers and through vendors. And, and the nice thing is that a lot of campuses also have sustainable procurement guidelines, and sustainable procurement initiatives. So if you're interested in purchasing a freezer, that's energy efficient, even though it might be a little bit more than a standard efficiency unit, I think you'll find a lot of procurement departments will be very supportive of that choice. Whereas sometimes if you go to buy a piece of equipment that's more expensive than another, if your scientists, you know that they will push back pretty hard on that. They'll ask you why are you going with the most expensive one? Why are you going with with the least expensive one, we have a contract, etc, etc, it can be really difficult. It's really nice that the interests now of everybody are kind of aligning to make the process of purchasing something that's sustainable, a little bit easier for everybody. So it's good.

Dave Karlsgodt 36:11

So if I understand it correctly, Allison, though, the typically if you're an principal investigator at a university, and you've got funding from an external source, usually responsible for buying some of your own equipment, and how does that play out with with ultra low temperature freezers be something they would buy, or the university would buy? It sounds like autoclave or baked into the building. So they would probably come with with the space that they would provide. But how does that work?

Allison Paradise 36:34

Yeah, that's a that's a really good point. So one of the challenges in laboratories has been historically, you know, in trying to get people to purchase things that are energy efficient, or just generally sustainable is that the the poi or the lab, they're the ones who purchase the equipment for the space, they would purchase you or the freezer, they would purchase all the other equipment and consumables for this space. But the utility bill are directly paid for by facilities. So although PIs are charged something called overhead. And overhead is a mixture of all of the costs associated with running the lab. So it would be for the energy would be for the water, it would be for the removal of hazardous waste, the custodial staff, everything that goes into kind of keeping the lab running, that's just called overhead. And that's taken out as a percentage of the funding that every lab gets. And that overhead is actually quite high. It's usually 50 or 60%. Some places have a little bit less, but it's it's quite a lot

Dave Karlsgodt 37:35

50% of the of their funding, is that what you mean?

Allison Paradise 37:39

Yeah, exactly. It's not strictly speaking to but without getting into all the nuances of it. More or less, it's about 50 cents of every dollar that gets donated to research or given to research is just taken off the top and goes to paying for to keeping lights on as what we used to call it in the lab. So it goes to paying the utility bills. So anything that you can do, it's kind of again, it's this really nice merging of, of all these different interests that come together. So for labs, if they start if they keep using more and more energy, that overhead costs is going to keep going up and up, which means there's less money that goes directly to research. That's not ideal, and four campuses, right, they don't want their utility bills to creep up and up and up. So if people are buying stuff that's energy efficient, it keeps their their costs down. So it really is a win win for everybody. Even though you've got the split where the pie buys the equipment, but the facilities people pay the utility bill. And the rebate actually helps a bit, I think or we're hoping that the rebate will help a bit to bridge that gap so that the PIs will be incentivized to purchase something that's energy efficient. In spite of the fact they won't directly realize the energy savings from that. It's the facilities group that pays the utility bill that will directly realize energy savings from that. And as a result that what we've seen on a lot of campuses across the country is that facilities will often offer internal incentives to their scientists to purchase energy efficient equipment. So UC San Diego that had a great rebate program that they ran last year, where they were I think they were just flat out giving people energy efficient ultra low temperature freezers, but I think UNH University of New Hampshire, they give a five or $6,000 rebate to their scientists and incentivize them to purchase something that's energy efficient. Most rebates typically fall between two and $3,000 as internal incentives. Again, because the facility side recognizes the savings and food PI's perspective, they're like, well, I just want to buy something that I can afford.

Dave Karlsgodt 39:43

Great. What's the payback look like on those? So you have a you mentioned some savings numbers, but like just in terms of dollars, like how long does it take for the premium of the energy efficient model to pay for itself?

Allison Paradise 39:56

That's a good question. So it's about two to three years, depending on there's a million different factors, because there's so many different types of VLT freezers, but we just did a work paper for the California utility companies. And we're seeing, you know, for the larger ones, it's two to three years. For the smaller ones, it's a little bit longer, maybe three to five years. But nevertheless, it's really, these are pieces of equipment that last 10 to 15 years, especially in academia, they're turned over a little bit more frequently in biotech, but they're usually not less than 10 years. So it's worth it for people.

Dave Karlsgodt 40:30

And is there any issue with the PIs? Do they care about the efficient freezers when performance wise, like I know, I've heard stories, I think from somebody I'm going to talk to in a future podcast about energy efficient use and say like, you know, army bases, where they had these really energy efficient washing machines, but they took all night to wash their clothes. And if they have small break, it was like, it was just impractical for them to wash the clothes. 12 hours, right? So is there? Did you guys care about this? Or is this kind of a non issue for them?

Allison Paradise 41:00

So they do care? I mean, they definitely think they care on multiple fronts. So we did a study demonstrating that that actually, most scientists really would prefer to buy equipment that's energy efficient. So it was something overwhelming, like 70, or 80% of them cared about energy efficiency, but performance, obviously, right? When they're there to do research. So the performance has to be there, it doesn't make any sense for people to be purchasing things that don't meet their standards, because then it the research is compromised. And then what's the point, right, there's no point even having the lab if you're not going to be able to do the research that you want to do. So we tested all of the freezers when we did them to make sure the performance matched what people were expecting. And we found that the energy efficient freezers in some cases performed better. And in some cases, they didn't perform as well. And it just depended on the metric or the parameter that we were looking at. But all of that information we published, and none of the freezers were so far outside of the norm, that I would say, Oh, we definitely should didn't endorse these. And ENERGY STAR was interested in that as well, these energies are also doesn't want to put their logo on something that, quite frankly, doesn't work for the market. And that will be the case for every piece of equipment that we look at will need to make sure that it functions in the way that it needs to for a lab, because to your point, right an energy efficient piece of equipment that takes 12 hours to get to temperature. That's not really practical for the lab, you know, it's just not gonna work.

Dave Karlsgodt 42:29

So it sounds like you've gotten the low temperature freezers through the EPA Energy Star program. So congratulations on that sounds like a pretty major milestone. It sounds like you're working on a rebate program. Is that just for California or for the whole country?

Allison Paradise 42:43

Yeah, good question. So at the moment is just in California, we just submitted the information to the Energy Commission in California, for actually developing a rebate. And now the California Energy Commission has to look that over and approve it. And then once that happens, we should have a it's in the state. And then the plan is to take that information and share it with the rest of the country. And this is a very standard model. So I have mentioned before the food service Technology Center, they work with the California utility companies to develop rebates for the food service industry, and then those are widely adopted across the rest of the country. So this model of having California start a rebate program and then having to be adopted is there's a lot of precedent for that. So we're going to be using that model. We've been in talks with ever source in Massachusetts, and I think they are also planning on doing something very similar. And then we will use the consortium of utility companies that are part of something called the electric power Research Institute, or f3. And get that information out to all of them through that channel. So our hope is really that most parts of the country will have rebates, for your tea freezers by 2019. And again, that will help start this idea of having the rebates for the laboratory market sector. Right now, that just doesn't exist. So if you look at a rebate catalog, you'll see for food service, you'll see for grocery stores, you'll see stuff for hospitals, you'll see all these different market segments broken out, but not laboratories. And I'm really excited to actually start to see that come in, in these rebate catalogs, that it'll be equipment, but also h back and all of these other things that go into laboratory spaces, a whole designated section, just for them. Now, that's great.

Dave Karlsgodt 44:28

Well, okay, so based on this, raising your hand at a conference and saying that you worked on energy, you really didn't and then having that's an amazing story. And yeah, again, congratulations on getting through that all the way to both the EPA Energy Star rating, and hopefully this rebate program. That's awesome. So what's next? I mean, there's a lot of I know, from my own work and doing energy model and buildings on campuses that, especially in lab buildings, ultra low temperature freezers are on the map. I mean, they're a big deal. There's like that thousands of them on each campus, potentially, especially at big research institutions. But the H back system is usually the biggest energy user. So is there is that an area you're going to go into next? Or what's the next technology you hope to tackle?

Allison Paradise 45:13

Yeah, good question. Um, we're probably not going to go anywhere near age back. I mean, I recognize that it is, by far and away, the largest part of the energy consumption in a laboratory building is due to age fact system tonight. And I mean, that's very well documented. And there's a lot of wonderful people who are doing exceptionally good work in that space. In fact, the woman we work with at kW engineering, Alison Farmer, she's like a whiz in that space. She's wonderful. It's just not what our area of expertise is. And I think that there are enough people who can help laboratory buildings, optimize their age HVAC systems, that we don't need to be a part of that, I want us to be doing things where we can really have an impact. And that for us, I think, is on the behavior side of things. So as I mentioned, I'm a former scientists, all of us at migraine lover, former scientists, we really understand how scientists think and how they are, they operate their laboratory space. And we're very focused on educating them on how to be smart in that space. So a lot of behavior change a lot of thinking about, about how and why they do things the way they do. Because, you know, the fact that I could be working in a lab for 10 years, and literally have, it never occurred to me how much energy that space is using, that's kind of terrifying. When I look back on it, I mean, that's almost unbelievable. You know, that, the how blind I was to so many aspects of sustainability in the lab. And so for me, and for our organization, I think that's where we're most excited, is educating people and getting them to open up their eyes, to seeing their environment just a little bit differently, and then in turn, use that to make some real demonstrable changes in their environment. I think that goes a long way, not only in the lab space, but then in other places where people are working or interacting. Because when you suddenly start to see opportunities for energy reduction and waste reduction and water reduction in your work environment, it starts opening up your eyes to opportunities for those for reduction of those things in all other aspects of your life. And so for us, that's where we're most interested in where we think we can have the greatest impact, and let the people who are engineers and who really know about HR systems, let them do that work. And let us do the work with the scientists.

Dave Karlsgodt 47:36

Well, fair enough. Alice, you don't have to take on the HVAC system. You're right. I mean, there are plenty of other organizations and companies out there working on that. If not the HVAC system, then what else? So there's other equipment, there's other fume hoods? Or are you going to go through more equipment, taking it through the Energy Star program? Or?

Allison Paradise 47:55

Well, we're definitely going to be taking more products to the Energy Star process for sure. We finished the also a temperature freezer project and the board president I sat down and really looked at Okay, what's what's our plan of attack for the next project? And how are we going to scale this up, we thought, you know what, it's a great effort to try to get energy star ratings for laboratory equipment, I fully believe that. But it does take a long time, you know, this last one took 10 years or more for the wealthy freezers, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of laboratory equipment, and so will all be dead. With very, very long gone, by the time we get Energy Star ratings for all of them. And it just didn't make a lot of sense for us to spend all of our time and effort trying to raise money for for that program. In that way, we just thought there must be a better way to get the information out to people. That is that has the same level of transparency, but takes a lot less time I'm to actually go through and analyze, and doesn't require us to go to the utility companies and beg for funding every year, that only focuses on equipment, right? Energy Star only looks at equipment. So it only looks at things related to energy consumption, which again, is great. But it leaves out consumables, and it leaves out chemicals. And it's a really long process. So we thought you know, what we need to do is if we are going to say to people, look, we want you to make better choices about what you purchase in the lab, we have to have just like I said at the beginning how our nonprofit wants to have this holistic approach to sustainability and not just be focused on one or one thing or another, then we need to have a program that support sustainable procurement, that also is as holistic as possible. So we're launching at the end of the month, kind of beginning of September and eco label called act. And that label has on information about energy consumption of products, as well as water consumption, the impact of manufacturing, the impact the packaging, looking at the end of life of both the packaging and the product. And we hired an independent third party auditor to actually go through and verify all the information from the manufacturer related to all of these different categories. And in the end, what we have is what we're calling a nutrition label for laboratory products. And so this will allow people to make smart choices about what they purchase in the lab by giving them all the information that they need to make those decisions. So if you're interested in energy, and you're looking at something like an autoclave, it'll have a number on how much energy it's using. And that number will be independently verified by an auditor. So maybe it's not as rigorous as the ENERGY STAR test, but at least it's third party verified. And then that way, you can kind of compare it across autoclave, if you care about energy, if you care about the environmental impact of the product as a whole, we total up all of those different categories. And we have something called an environmental impact factor. The lower the number, the better it is for the environment, the higher the number, the worse it is. So we're developing this label to actually try to fill this gap because we saw that again, while the ENERGY STAR process is amazing, and it's wonderful. It's just simply not going to work. If we want to move things forward at the pace that we want them to move forward. So the act label is is our way of fast tracking equipment as well as consumables and chemicals, and working with procurement departments and working with scientists in order to help them make smart choices. And the hope is really that with this label, we can start to drive the market towards energy efficiency and towards sustainability in general in the same way that the Energy Star rating did that for ultra low temperature freezers. So what we found is, when we started that project, there was only really one model that was considered energy efficient, or was certainly only one that was being marketed as being energy efficient. And that actually was going to be a problem because ENERGY STAR does not want to give a rating to just one manufacturer. But it turned out as we started talking about it and telling people we were going through this, this project, lovin hold all these other manufacturers managed to come up with energy efficient models. And so now there are at least three, as I said, possibly four, that will be ENERGY STAR certified this year. So the in the market is just it continues to go in that direction. In fact, someone just sent me an email today about a company in Denmark, that's marketing, they're also a fruit temperature freezer as being energy efficient. I mean, that is a thing now that people are using in their marketing material. And it's something that they care about, that for years ago was just completely absent. So I think we can see that these labels and these programs can help drive the market on their own towards sustainability. And so we're hoping the label does the same thing in a way that's just a little bit faster. So that's our next big kind of program, although we will be working at minus 20 freezers with utility company. So we're still continuing those projects, it's just like I said, it's a bit slower. So we'll do one project with a minus 20 freezers this year with the utility companies, but we hope to have at least 100 products labeled with the ACC label by the end of 20.

Dave Karlsgodt 53:00

Excellent. Well, it's nice to hear, because you're sounds like you're approaching it both from a standards perspective, you know, which is the slower track as well as just getting market information out there. And, you know, for me, it's, as somebody who's worked in, you know, the energy space, especially on campuses, it's always frustrating to hear how much human energy is used to talk about things that are relatively small in the grand scheme of the problem. And laboratories are usually given a pass, like you mentioned up front, and you know, that they do really tend to be the most energy intense spaces, campuses are growing, you know, so we always want more laboratories. Scientists themselves are kind of seen as these, you know, the saviors of humanity, if we're going to solve these, you know, big climate change scale problems, we need scientists to do it. Yet, the work that the scientists are doing themselves is a big contributor to the problem, which often goes unnoticed. So it's, I really appreciate all the work you're doing to kind of bring attention to that, but also, to do it in a way that's productive. And you know, not just shaming, because that's not really going to be a productive way to approach it. So

Allison Paradise 54:06

That was so well articulated.

Dave Karlsgodt 54:08

Oh, thank you.

Allison Paradise 54:09

So Well, yes, exactly. What you said,

Dave Karlsgodt 54:12

I appreciate that. Well, so as we wrap things up, what would you like to leave people with? or How can they get involved? I mean, are you looking for funding? Are you looking for volunteers? Are you looking just for people to take advantage of programs? Or what what's the ask of our listeners here today?

Allison Paradise 54:28

Oh, all of the above. I mean, as a small nonprofit, we're always looking for funding for donations. And we've always be faithful to accept any of those. We all we have volunteer opportunities for people, especially when it comes to helping us out with conferences, which attend quite a few conferences with scientists and our booth tends to be, believe it or not, our booth is actually one of the most popular booths at the scientific meetings that we attend. Last year, we had over 2000 people visit our booth at neuroscience conference, which was almost seven 100 people more than the next closest booth. So we can always use help with that. And we do do quite a bit of data analysis. So always could use help. And certainly by all means, go to our website, check out our programs, the kind of consulting work that we do is at no cost. So reach out to us, we're happy to help in any way that we can.

Dave Karlsgodt 55:20

Perfect. And any closing thoughts?

Allison Paradise 55:22

Sure, the work that we do in the laboratory space, I think is incredibly important, as I think it lays the groundwork for a much larger movement around sustainability. You know, scientists, they are very, very focused on what they do. And they have blinders on really, when it comes to sustainability. And what the work that they're doing has a lot of requirements. So it isn't the case that you can just swap one thing for another, you can't just change out a chemical just because one is more toxic than another one. It just doesn't work that way. What's very interesting to me about this is that this space, I think, is very challenging, that if we can figure out a way to message to people that actually resonates with them and gets them to, to change the way they think about the work that they're doing, and change their behavior, that I think those lessons can be applied more broadly to the general population. And that's really where I see all of this going, is that I hope that in five to 10 years migraine lab is, is obsolete, it's not needed, that everybody's already thinking about this in the laboratory space. And we can take this nonprofit to really address sustainability across the board. And helping people understand that sustainability. It's equated with being a sacrifice and so many ways. And it need not be a sacrifice, because I mean, at least in the lab, it can't be a sacrifice, if you make it if it's a sacrifice, it doesn't work for the research. Like I said, there's no point of people being there. So educating people that sustainability really isn't about sacrifice, it's just about being smart, and really thinking through the consequences of your actions. Not just from an environmental perspective, but also in a lot of cases, especially in the lab from a safety perspective. And actually, generally from an economic perspective. So all of us can take the lessons of what we've been doing here in the lab and apply them more broadly to any area that we work in and looking at energy reduction, or just sustainability more broadly. right in and helping people understand sustainability, not as a sacrifice, not as a three minute shower. Right, which is I think what always everybody talks about, at least out in California, I work in sustainability. Man, I wish I could take a 10 minute shower again, it sucks that I have to take these short showers, right, it's short showers. It's I can't water my lawn. It's a lot of negatives, right? sustainability is always associated with things you can't do. And we're trying to change that to be associated with things that you can do. It's about positive things, not about negative things.

Dave Karlsgodt 57:55

Yeah, final question then would just be are there ways people can get in touch with you directly? How would you like people to contact

Allison Paradise 58:01

Um, probably email is best: allison@mygreenlab.org. And my cell phone number is area code 860-680-3283. And I guess if you're going to use that number, text is always better than a phone call. But by all means, if anybody has any questions, or listening to this, or wants to get involved or wants to learn more, or has some really cool ideas for collaboration, and we're always open to that. I mean, we love to work with people as much as possible. This whole movement doesn't work if we're all working kind of isolated in our own little silos, anything that we can do to collaborate. I'm totally open to like this podcast, which is an awesome collaboration.

Dave Karlsgodt 58:41

Well, I really appreciate the energy that you've brought to the show. And it's so fun to hear the stories of people that have stood up and taken on a topic that nobody else was paying attention to and brought attention to it and actually accomplished it. I mean, bravo. Again, I don't think most people realize how challenging it is to work both with laboratory paces as well as utility companies, which are notoriously difficult. So really impressed with all the work you've done. And thanks again for sharing all this on our show today.

Allison Paradise 59:09

Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. Really appreciate it.

Dave Karlsgodt 59:14

That's it for this episode. As always, you'll find show notes on the website at campusenergypodcast.com. Please keep those show ideas coming and perhaps take a moment to read a review on iTunes to help us get the word out about the show. After a lull this summer. We have a few other episodes in the works and hope to pick up the pace for this fall. Thanks for listening.