My take on the AHR Expo Educational Session “ Navigating to Smarter Sustainable BAS"
I arrived at room N239, in the North Hall of the 3.2 million square foot Las Vegas Convention center early. It was 9:16 AM. Monday morning. This was the first of ten AHR educational sessions, curated by the prolific Ken Sinclair. I was pleased to see a large group of people already in attendance. It would be a full house.
The three panelists at the front of the room, and two on a large screen attending virtually, would make the next hour very interesting. They had some mad wisdom to pass on, and I was in a mood to get schooled. Let’s meet our cast of characters:
Scott Cochrane, our moderator, is observant and skilled at leading conversations in the fashion of a college debate team captain. Scott is a second generation building automation controls distributor, having taken over for his dad, Don Cochrane. Born to lead and innovate, the discussion is in expert hands.
Brad White, accomplished and contemporary, a smart building controls hipster, is one of the few men on the planet that can still rock a man bun. One of Canadas rising stars in smart buildings and consulting engineering, he is innovative and practical, the type that doesn’t see the glass as half empty or half full, but asks questions like, why are we drinking this sh-t, anyway? Or, if we control what’s in the glass better, it doesn’t matter if it is half full or half empty.
Kim Brown speaks with the unique perspective and wisdom of one who has worked her way up through the ranks, which she has at Cochrane Supply. Her current position as Chief People Officer puts her position to address one of the major challenges we all have in building automation controls, which is how and where to find good people and how to keep them once we find them.
Marc Petock carries himself with the poise and cadence of a man that has seen action on Madison Avenue. Insightful, savvy and accessible, he is the type of guy you want on your team no matter what sport you are playing. He would make a great consultant, General Manager of the New York Football Giants, or a VP of marketing, which he is at Lynxspring.
A sailor, Ken Sinclair, has spent years watching the horizon, looking for changes in the weather. If you want to know which way to sail your ship safely, find an experienced captain with good eyes, like Ken, and you will never get too far off course. His habit of always looking and making subtle distinction has made Ken and an invaluable guide for the smart building controls professional trying to navigate the seas of uncertainty.
Having met our panel of experts, let’s look at what they discussed. . .
The session centered on change, including: owners’ expectations for their BAS systems and smart building providers, how Covid has and is changing requirements for smart buildings, how the rapid adoption of IP controllers is changing cyber security requirements and how we as an industry have to change how we recruit and keep talent.
The sales conversations we have with owners are changing as owners become more educated and as Brad White says, “what I’ve seen from owners is they are increasingly unwilling to accept the status quo”.
Change more accurately, the rate of change is the thing both Scott Cochrane and Ken Sinclair noted to start the session. Ken alluded to “an invasion” of new technologies like AI and the metaverse. . . “So it’s just all about change. And it’s about how fast you adapt if you want to survive.” Ken talks about this in his article “adaption is your superpower”.
Scott added, “Our voices have been very quiet over the last couple of years, yet the technology has not. We as a BAS industry have hit almost a rocket like speed when it comes to new technology hitting our industry. And the changes are exponential”. At the heart of these changes, according to Scott, is the coming move to “all IP controls and connecting everything to the internet”.
Then there is the push for decarbonizing. . .
“Slashing Carbon emissions from buildings is critical in tackling climate change, since they represent nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions, There is no tackling climate change without substantial investments in buildings. We know that decarbonizing the built environment requires the digital transformation of buildings, including connected, energy efficient HVAC equipment and controls”. – Katie McGinty Johnson Controls, siting a 2021 study commissioned by Johnson Controls by the Forrester Consulting Group
This is great news for the Smart Building Controls professional and echoes Brad Whites’ experiences:
“I think a lot of owners have kind of reached a point where they’re looking to make major investments in their buildings. For a variety of reasons, some of this COVID, I think we see a lot of owners taking advantage of the spaces that may still sit partly empty. So this is a good time for us to get in there and do some things that we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but couldn’t because spaces have been fully occupied. And the other side of it is the push to edge. There’s increasing pressure, both from or within corporations, but also regulatory pressure from municipalities to really improve building performance and reduce carbon emissions dramatically”. – Brad White
Marc Petock added “the building is now viewed as an asset. And building owners want to increase the value of that asset every day. So controls, smart systems, open systems, whatever, make that building more valuable is how they evaluate investing in that building. And so again, I think there’s that business side of the conversation that never took place 5, 6, 7 years ago, is now front and center”.
To take advantage of these opportunities, we need people. Smart Building Controls like other industries, face the challenge of attracting and keeping excellent employees. Kim Brown offered some useable ideas. Kim spoke about her new role as the Chief People Officer at Cochrane Supply and strategies they used to find qualified people to meet the growing demand for building automation controls. A key takeaway is to recruit outside of our industry and to get them young, as young as at the high school level, and grow them into your business.
With change comes opportunity, and the value in reading through the transcript, or watching a video replay of the session, is understanding the opportunities these changes unlock.
The future in building automation controls looks bright for those paying attention.
Building owners desire to invest in their buildings to make them more valuable, and global concerns about climate change along with cheap money (low interest rates) are where motive meets means. The skill sets in our industry make the smart building controls professional the logical choice to meet this swelling demand for smarter, more sustainable buildings and building automation control systems.
Transcript of Navigating to Smarter Sustainable BAS
Scott Cochrane 0:00
All right, we’re gonna get ready to start here. We got some stragglers coming in, there’s their seats up in the front. Don’t worry, I won’t call on you just because you’re sitting in the front plenty of room up front. By might. Yeah, sit back there too. All right. Okay. Wow, welcome, everybody. I’m so glad to be here. I’m sure a lot of you guys are too and folks were. So thank you for attending the automated buildings free education sessions. This is our opening session. And quick story. So as we all know, COVID has affected a lot of us and our port neighbors up to the north and Canada, especially in terms of travel and stuff has become very restrictive. And so my good buddy, Ken Sinclair, he says, Hey, Scott, you know, the HR people would like us to try and put together a free education session, but I’m not going to be able to make it there. And, and I said, Okay, Ken, I said, here’s the deal. I said, I’ll produce it, you know, and get everything figured out. But you pick the people. And away we went. And we’ve been planning this pretty hard for about the last two months. And I can’t say how excited I am with the group of speakers, we have to present to you over the next two days, and all the great information we’re going to share with you that we could gather. It’s long overdue, right? Our voices have been very quiet over the last couple of years, yet the technology has not. We as a BAS industry have hit almost like a rocket fever when it comes to new technology hitting our industry. And the changes are exponential. The changes are crazy, that are going on in terms of moving us over to basically all IP control and connecting everything to the internet. And it’s rapidly changing the landscape of the products, the services, how the contractors work in the field, how the owners look at value. And this is important information. And so so can Brad myself, Mark Kim, we set out to hopefully give you guys a little glimpse into that over the next two days. So that’s what we’re here to do. And, and that’s what hopefully we we accomplished. So I didn’t introduce myself briefly. I’m Scott Cochran with Cochran supply. I’m the president of Cochran supply. I’m second generation I’ve been doing this for over 25 years now. When I came into the industry, I was really fortunate to work with people who built the life on the industry as well. And I learned a lot of the old ways and I get to mix them with the new with, with my good buddy here, Mike Mitchell, my chief technology officer and IT guy. And, and we’re a building controls distributor. So we we distribute building controls primarily to contractors. And we sell on lines from Honeywell Johnson Controls dystek, the Lemo, a whole bunch of different grade lines that we represent. And with all the contractors we work with, and product lines, we see a lot of things. And we feel like part of our goal as a company to service our customers is to share with everybody what we see. And so that’s a lot of what I do. I try to write articles for Ken every month and automated buildings and share different thoughts with his audience. And, and we as a company, we strive to push technology and in the industry in new directions. And we enjoy that. Because as I learned from my dad who was in the industry, if you’re not having fun doing it, there’s no reason to do it. So So that’s and this is all about fun when it comes to tech you guys in our eyes and that’s why we love doing it. So, so good stuff so so that’s a little bit about me and Cochran supply. And I’m going to introduce you now to my co host the head on the screen over here, Mr. Ken Sinclair with automated buildings. Yep, hit it can it is it? Well, first of
Ken Sinclair 4:15
all, thank you very much for for stepping in and making this the best ever automated buildings, free education sessions. The quality and the quantity of speakers you’ve added and the support from the industry has just absolutely been phenomenal. And so thanks to you, kudos to Cochran and company and kudos to the industry for for supporting these I think it’s it’s very important with cancellation of Chicago last year. It it’s kind of a giant hole in the industry. And we’re all kind of looking for somebody to talk to somebody to tell our new stories to If there’s if there’s one thing that the industry for 50 years and running these sessions for 22 years, has taught me is it doesn’t have anything to do with it. You know, it’s about understanding how much you don’t know. And also the fact that our food superpower is our ability to adapt. And that is what we need to do to survive. And again, the last two years have taught us how to do that. So we’re getting good at it. We haven’t been even better. The sessions, as everyone talks about their sessions on the panel, if they could just expand a little bit and introduce them, because I’m extremely proud of the assembly. sessions that you have put together just great stuff. And kudos to you, Scott. Thank you very much.
Scott Cochrane 6:02
Thank you, Ken. So, so can just briefly like, go ahead and give us your big, big thought for the year. What are we looking at for this? For this past year in the year coming? Give us a quick, big picture, big picture thought from you can to kick this thing off?
Ken Sinclair 6:18
Well, I think it’s all about just trying to understand the changes that are upon us. But when you look back, both of our histories as it’s all always the developments just change and new first moves into the change and except that there’s no use wind up telling us how it used to be I can I can tell those horror stories better than anybody. Everybody glazes over as soon as I started talking about if people want to talk and they want to understand how we’re moving ahead. How are we dealing with these artificial intelligence? Are we dealing with the metaverse and other websites? You know, how are we going to use all of this data? And how are we going to control it? Just the changes that are afoot? The it? Invasion is not really an invasion. It’s, it’s it’s probably as an invasion isn’t a bad word. But I don’t think our industry sees that we’re invasion invading their industry as much as they’re dating. So they’ve never had this operating do T experience and real time, so it was a lot of a lot of changes going on there. So it’s just all about change. And it’s about how fast you adapt for your survival.
Scott Cochrane 7:42
Awesome. Awesome. And Ken, have you ever seen a change as fast as it is today? Doesn’t it seem like we’re on a rocket ship these days? That
Ken Sinclair 7:56
the industry is really changing. I thought it was just me. falling on me and I can’t do it. No, but
Scott Cochrane 8:06
you do. I think you do pretty well. Yeah, that’s, that’s awesome. And so, so then from from their them so so canon i. So when we put this together, of course, we we are we are two big heads, we are just talking heads. Right can that’s all we do so. So we had to get some real people involved. And so that’s where we bring our panelists in for, for a quick introductory discussion today. Let’s start with Brad from Brad White from SCS consulting. How’re you doing today, Brad? I’m doing all right. Thanks. Great. Great. So a quick little intro. Yep.
Brad White 8:47
Yeah, sure. I can get an intro. Yeah, sorry. Sorry. I’m not there in person. I would. I would love to be that this is your this is the next best thing. So I’m glad that thanks, big thanks to Cochran supply for for making all of this happen. And especially, you know, enabling students to participate remotely. So I’m the consultants. I’m up in Vancouver, Canada, as Scott mentioned, we do a lot of work in existing buildings. And maybe I’ll just give give kind of a very quick plug for for the sessions that I’ve got. So the what we’ve got coming up is sort of the things driving my work today is a lot around decarbonization of buildings, making buildings more sustainable. And and so we’ve got a session on that tomorrow, one o’clock in this room, which I’ll encourage you all to attend. But what we’re seeing is yes, the use case for building automation data is becoming even more powerful. And that is very much linked to this push to make buildings smarter and more sustainable. I think we’ve always used data extensively in operations, not fault detection diagnostics for a long time, now we’re starting to see, I would say very, very compelling new cases for the data around helping us size and design these little carbon systems and buildings, helping us guide us through the transformation of buildings to be more sustainable. And at the same time, we’ve got our clients crying for buildings that are really ambitious, isn’t there a more open and accessible, you know, they’re sick and frustrated with proprietary technology that they they can’t do anything with, they’ll call him the one service company in their town that has the license and pain through the nose for it. And so we’re talking about that this afternoon, in our session, open billing systems, and I think you’ll you’ll hear from a lot of people are very passionate about opening up new technology and new and very exciting ways. So that’s, that’s where I’m coming from.
Scott Cochrane 10:51
Awesome. Yeah. Thanks, Brad. So, Brad, in terms of what you’re seeing in terms of like owner expectations, and things like that, can you tell us a little bit about the changes you’ve seen in the last couple years?
Brad White 11:06
I would say, what I’ve seen from owners is they are increasingly unwilling to kind of accept the status quo. So I think these things that have been great, they’ve been griping about for forever, that, you know, I think everyone’s always wanted the system to be more open and accessible. And, you know, I know whatever it goes sets out to buy a proprietary system, I mean, that that’s not something I never heard anybody say. But I would say this big kind of acceptance for that. And that that’s, I feel that going away, I think a lot of owners have kind of reached a point where they’re looking to make major investments in their buildings. For a variety of reasons, some of this COVID, I think we see a lot owners taking advantage of the spaces that may still be sitting partly empty. So this is a good time for us to get in there and do this some of the things that we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but couldn’t because space have been fully attended. And other sides of it are just, you know, the push to edge, as I said, there’s increasing pressure, both from or within corporations, but also regulatory pressure from municipalities to really improve building performance and reduce carbon emissions in a dramatic way, you know, not the incremental improvements that we’ve been seeking in the past five 10%. But yeah, 58 100% reductions in carbon emissions. So I think the combination of those things we see building owners wanting to actually make big investments in their buildings. And, and not wanting to compromise, willing to kind of realizing that you Okay, they’ve been through a couple of generations of building automation systems, they’ve made the same mistake a couple of times are giving in to the to the Find the quote, unquote, easy thing that is proprietary and, and realizing that long term, it kind of bites them. So it’s interesting, I think there is a lot more awareness among ownership now and building owners and making his investments, starting to prioritize things like openness, performance, proof of performance. Those are now at the top of the shopping list. And I would say in orders, we see owners actually willing to pay a premium for
Scott Cochrane 13:15
that’s super cool. And Brad, how is that different from? I mean, that’s a drastic change, right? From in the last couple of years, would you say? It’s like, it’s almost like they’re actually, like there was murmur before but now it’s more like intent. Like, it’s actually you think the tide is turning towards, you know, a real change?
Brad White 13:33
I do. Yeah. I think I see that in the money being spent. And, you know, yeah, we’ve got a we we did part of our work with energy studies, energy audits, and well, yeah, we’ve always been recommending this stuff for free years. And we’ll see a little bit about cake. But, you know, by and large, we would see owners, you know, make small, incremental improvements. But yeah, what we’re seeing now that I’d say the large investment schools and building automation systems and radical overhauls and mechanical systems that I’ve seen in the 15 years, that I’ve been doing this, and, you know, owners willing to spend, you know, not 10s of 1000s of dollars, hundreds of $1,000, hundreds of 1000s of dollars and millions of dollars to kind of do it right. I think a lot of them have been, you know, interest rates are still low on the city on on somebody. And exactly combination of just yeah, the opportunity to get into some of these spaces. Finally, regulatory pressure, corporate pressure, it seems like there’s a lot of different stars aligning all at once that are starting to make some of these things a reality that we’ve been talking about for so long. So yeah, super exciting. I’m, I’m you’re I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been. That, you know, we’re gonna see some major change in buildings and in particular in existing buildings over the next 510 years.
Scott Cochrane 14:55
Yeah, and I’m really looking forward to your session tomorrow, Brad with Craig Stevenson. You Talking about this. So it’s a, it’s a great topic. I know here in the states in the United States, we’re in the midst of seeing some big change in terms of, I would say, the commitment towards a more sustainable building in America. And we’re starting to hear news about that even today. Right. Ken, you shared some articles about that today even. And so that’s an exciting time, not just in new technology, but also in truly the want for the industry to provide a better environment for for tenants, right. It’s, I think we can all agree now it’s real. And it’s gonna really affect things over the next couple years. And it’s exciting as well. So
Brad White 15:40
yeah, it just seems like a catalyst, big change and big investment. I’d say, you know, it’s been been great for our business, and I’m sure a lot of others can continue the same. So I think, you know, regardless of the politics associated with the ability, climate change, is the money to do this. And I think that’s a good thing for our industry, for sure.
Scott Cochrane 16:07
Yep, for sure. So Brad, and then and then so Brad’s got a really cool session on decarbonisation. And then Brad has also got a really neat session on open systems, correct? Correct, Brett? Yep. Yeah. 333 30. So, so real quick, do owners, what is it? What is an open system in your eyes? Just briefly? To loaded question, loaded question. I know.
Brad White 16:34
I mean, open means different things to different people, I would say my definition of open is you can, you can do with the system, what you need to do without having to enable to select your service providers to kind of provide the best quality of service, you don’t have to go to that same BS vendor, same contractor to do every single piece of your system, you can say, hey, I want an acquisition. I like this best in class solution over here. I like that fault detection package. And I’ve aligned you know, that sustainability Energy Monitoring package unable to make them all work together, even though they may come from from different sources. And different vendors be able to kind of piece together best in class date, as soon as we do the PCs to buy the best office suite, you get the best database software, and you get the best email buy. And you don’t necessarily have to buy this all from us if you can, if you watch it, they’ve got a distribution for you. But you can, you can piece together, I can use Adobe products, and I can click on Products and I can use all together over to do them. IDC I think that’s that’s the holy grail of openness for building automation systems will be concerns issues with best in class pieces and put them together in a way that’s relatively seamless.
Scott Cochrane 17:49
Until we get that cybersecurity breach right. Then that brings open to a whole new level, I guess so. But it’ll be a great conversation. And I’m looking forward to that one to Brad. So awesome. Thank you. Yep. Fun stuff. So. Okay, so then our next post our next person on the panel, we’ll move over to Miss Kimberly Brown. And Kim Brown, Cochran supply chief, people office people officer, and Kim has also been in the industry for over 20 years. And she’s going to share some of her perspective, Kimmy.
Kim Brown 18:27
Okay. My name is Kim Brown. I’ve been with camping supply for about 15 years or so. Like a lot of people, I stumbled into the industry, I didn’t even know it existed. And so for me, that’s a big focus on what I bring to Cochran supplies trying to get more talent and people in the industry, because it’s the biggest industry that people don’t know, exists, and it affects everyone’s life. So what can we do and outreach in different ways through education and recruiting to be good ambassadors for the industry to bring more talent because we’re all starved right now for that?
Scott Cochrane 19:03
Yep. Awesome, Kim. And, and so Kim has had just about every position at Cochran supply from sales operations. And but in her current role, as she mentioned, she’s really focused on people. And one of the things that Kim and I work really hard on is bringing new people into the BAS industry and training them. We put a lot of focus on that, don’t we, Kim?
Kim Brown 19:26
Yeah, professional development is huge. And we really try to look at what people’s strengths are. So we can do drop job crafting and things where we can put people in places that plays to their strengths, because that overall makes the company better. So people are happier, more fulfilled with their roles, but also the company’s getting more out of them because they enjoy what they do. So that that’s been really a big focus and we promote from within the most weekend. You know, we look at every every role at the company as you know, a way to get people in the door and then start training them up to be You know, the next generation of talent for us.
Scott Cochrane 20:04
And interestingly enough, one of the things that we’re struggling with is that there are no more people in the industry to hire. They’re all working. So now we’re having to take people from outside of the industry. And first and foremost, try to promote the industry to them to make it interesting. And secondarily, bring them in and try to help them in a very short order. Understand some very complicated things. And and so we’ve have, we have a methodology for it a Cochrane supply. And Kim and Greg and Therese, I believe, are going to be sharing that today. And tomorrow, tomorrow at 1230. Kim’s hosting a session with Greg and Therese. And it’s it’s for people from maybe outside the industry that are looking to learn more about systems integration about
Kim Brown 20:55
BAS 101. What is building automation, right? And how is that something that everybody needs to know about? And it’s not a scary word, people sometimes see your building controls, and they’re like, Oh, you don’t want to go that way. Controls are scary.
Scott Cochrane 21:09
And as all of you are in the building automation industry, because you would not be in this room, if you were not, we would like you to promote this to people from the mechanical side that may be interested in controls is a nice way to learn more about it. I’ve said this more than once, in order for us to staff, our future, we the people in the industry have to be the ambassadors, we’re the ones who have to go to the public and say, Hey, this stuff is pretty cool that we do. Like I always say, like, you know, like that stadium over there, you know, you want to work on that, or, you know, we work on really cool buildings, really cool projects. And, and we get to do really neat things with these projects. And so, so it’s important that we all push for more people into the BAS industry and, and we’ll be doing that session. And Kim, you’re also hosting another session,
Kim Brown 21:55
Theresa is actually hosting Tridium has put together a panel of women, smart, smart women, smart buildings, and it’s a whole host of women from different backgrounds in the industry, they’re going to talk about their experiences, and how we can get more women in the room. So you know, it’s nice today to see a handful of women in this room, but I still would like to see more, you know, women are 50% of the population, and yet they’re less than 10% in this room as women so how can we be better at that? And, you know, just promoting more diversity and inclusion just in general?
Scott Cochrane 22:31
Certainly, it’s been Kim and I’s best kept secret in the industry. We don’t tell people that very often. But now again, it’s a staffing battle. So it’s, we’re sharing all our best secrets now, but um, certainly everybody has a place in our industry. And it’s important that we accept everybody in it. And because, again, beggars can’t be choosers. And we’re all a fickle bunch to begin with. So awesome stuff. All right, good. And then anything else you’d like to share? Kim? No. Okay, cool. All right. So, so Kim’s got some exciting sessions. All right. And finally, I saved the the guy who’s got the most to say for last because I wanted to make sure we have plenty of time for him. This fella, he, he really I mean, when, I mean, again, 20 years plus, I’ve known the man. Absolutely probably one of the most brilliant minds in the industry when it comes to understanding the big picture. And somebody who has always helped this industry evolve. And I don’t need to say much more. Mr. Mark Petock.
Marc Petock 23:40
Thanks, Scott. Again, thank you, everybody, for joining us today. You know, as, as we’re going through this and thinking of things, obviously, we cannot get together and not think you’re totally alright, been there done it, we’re still going through it. But for me with respect to COVID, the main thing that changed us all, whether you’re a technology supplier, your business owner, or sorry, a building owner operator, or you’re in the best service business or controls contractor integrator is expectations. For me, that is the number one thing that has occurred from total expectations. What I mean by that is expectations, our buildings have to operate completely differently now than they ever have been before. So that’s more up to the expectations of the building owner and the operator. And I’m going to kind of go off the reservation a little bit. And I get a lot of crap when I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I believe. While we have awesome technologies, and we’re still going down the path of creating developing technology. It’s not the technology that is driving our industry. It’s the business This side, and it’s all about the business side of a build. And what do I mean by that? It’s Yes, how it operates, how it performs all the stuff we have heard for years. But now, instead of the conversation being about energy savings, yes, don’t get me wrong. That’s all part of it. It’s all about specific outcomes. And what are those outcomes that that building owner and operator really wants to achieve? And what they are looking for? And then part of that, too, is that the outcomes? Yes, driven are driven by technology. But part of the expectations now on all of us is they expect our systems, our controls our whatever, to do more. And just think, five, six years ago, yeah, we kind of talked about IQ and a few other things. Now, you cannot have a conversation without talking about indoor air quality, occupancy, all that kind of good stuff. And, you know, also, I think, one of the areas that I see as a result of this, of COVID. Now, we all have talked about the convergence of OT and it in there done it? Yes, we I think we all agree, yep, that is something that is occurring has occurred must occur, I now believe there’s a convergence of the operational side. And the workplace side, that is our next major sea change of convergence is I see it in buildings. And then part of that too, is we go, we talked about data, we can get all the data you want, I mean, we can get data, that means nothing, we can get data, that means something. But the real challenge remains is once you we have that data is actually getting it together, bring it all together, and understanding it. And I think that’s where it far as I’m concerned, we as an industry, we are very far behind in trying to have people who truly can interpret and understand that data and apply it to better expectations, better outcomes, and so forth, and so on. And then finally, I obviously made some notes is the expectations is the building is now viewed as an asset. And they want to building owners want to increase the value of that asset each and every day. So controls, smart systems, open systems, whatever, make that building much more valuable when they come to evaluate that particular building. And so again, I think there’s that business side of the conversation that never took place 5, 6, 7 years ago, is now front and center. And it’s really being driven by more people getting involved and looking at this in the secret. So with that, I’ll just leave it at that. Whatever.
Can you tell me something session? Oh, thank you. Yeah, so I am I am hosting, participating hosting a couple sessions. One is project haystack, my colleague John Petze. and I are going to talk about the importance of data. And obviously where haystack fits in. And it’s it’s part and then I put together a what I call an all star panel of industry influencers from all walks of life to have an open conversation about stuff within the industry. And again, I hope we agree on something I hope we disagree on something but we’ve got folks from the person from engineering community folks from the system integrator community gentlemen, from the real time organization in a smart building Master System Integrator, so we’ve got a good group of folks who I think will have a entertaining and if not a conversation.
Scott Cochrane 29:36
right, can we still got 30 more minutes, buddy? Okay, yeah, don’t worry. I’m on top of it. I’m on top of it. So we got more time. All right. So so back on Marc real quick while we got I’m gonna keep the spotlight on mark for a minute. Okay, Marc. So so we know about the sessions coming up, but just real quick haystack. I mean, it’s it’s a big deal, right? I mean, it’s it’s really just She industry, I know you guys have worked for a long time on it and successfully, can you just speak to some of the impact that you’ve seen yourself from the work you guys have done on that with through the community. And it’s
Marc Petock 30:11
It is all about organizing that data, tagging it. And, you know, making it ideal to use across any shareholder who needs the data and platform, etc. We’ve seen a global adoption now. And we now equate roughly 45,000 to 50,000 instances or buildings in which haystack has been brought in as far as part of the solution. And again, no matter who’s ever controlled, it really doesn’t matter. And we’re also seeing it in specs, starting to pop up in specs, which is a good thing, because I think the folks who design and create our specs are now starting to see the value of data. And they’re being asked by the building owners and operators. Okay, tell me what controls to me all all the standard division 25 stuff or whatever. Now, what about the data side of it? And so we’re starting to see that
Scott Cochrane 31:10
cool, cool and
Ken Sinclair 31:12
Give a plug for the Connection magazine, this just online, because that’s,
Scott Cochrane 31:17
you just you just did it. So thanks. I just did well,
Ken Sinclair 31:19
number three, so you guys can read this magazine is way better than automated buildings.
Marc Petock 31:25
So part of our initiative with the haystack organizations, and it’s a 501 C, it’s a nonprofit is that we create, we develop a twice a year magazine in which we get contributors from the haystack community or data community. And it’s all written by them and whatever. So the latest issue is out. And you can find it on a link on Ken’s site if you want or go to Project haystacks hyphen dashboard. And you find there as well.
Scott Cochrane 31:59
Awesome. And then your your second session, this is tomorrow, you got your All Star panel? What type of trouble? Are you hoping to whip up with them? I mean, you got some controversy brewing? Or what are you doing? There? We do. All right, you know,
Marc Petock 32:14
the last person who I need to have real contract, I
Scott Cochrane 32:16
need to have you on that. You don’t want me on that panel?
Marc Petock 32:19
Absolutely. But no, I you know, I think, you know, in talking to the group as we prepare for it, and some of the questions and you know, some of the things we’re gonna Yeah, we cannot have that conversation without talking about COVID, and what they learned from COVID each in their respective fields and stuff like that. We’re gonna talk about the pros and cons of digital twins. We’re going to talk about responsibility, who’s responsible for making the building safe, healthy and average that the C suite? Is the facility management? Is it HR? Is it whoever or combination thereof? Also, we’re going to get into a conversation I liked. And again, depending on time on Evie stations and their upcoming roles or roles now, within the built environment, should they be part of the built environment? Should they become part of the building, automating platform as well? Should facility maintenance and management, be responsible for these types of stations and so forth? And a few other surprises will just keep this surprise for now.
Scott Cochrane 33:34
And that is what time tomorrow?
Marc Petock 33:37
You tell me? Dang
Scott Cochrane 33:38
it, I got you make me take my glasses off when 330 to 430 tomorrow, and that will take you right into happy hour. So that’s fine. It’s a perfect way to wrap this whole thing up with with a little bit of hot talk. Right. A little bit of controversy. So good stuff. All right. Well, thank you, Mark. So, so yeah, so so we um, so just really quick. So we highlighted a lot of the programs that we’re going to be doing. A couple other topics I’d like to bring up I’d like to just, we have on toe in the room. Antos is going to be hosting a session on tau, could you stand up briefly. Sorry to put you on the spot. I told this afternoon he’s going to be hosting a session on Coalition for smarter buildings.
One of the things that sort of come out of that is going out nation called coalition responsibilities. And we’ll be talking about that. The optimum playing robot coalition focus on how to make building smarter and also to to do this today, Washington DC federal angle and both state and local government
Scott Cochrane 35:03
I had the mic, I was about to hand it to you, but I was too late. So, awesome. Thank you until, and we’re excited for that as well. So you’re sure, cuz I got my mic. Alright, so. So As Ken mentioned, I’m also hosting some sessions. And the thrust of what I’m going to be focused on is really about how the industry has moved in all IP infrastructure. That’ll be the first topic today, right after this. We have Cochran supply being a vendor for quite a few different IP based product lines a couple summers ago, we started seeing the AIP products get designed into new construction. And then this past summer, those projects became reality they got installed. And now we’re at the end of that, that lifecycle on those projects, the projects are running. And we’re starting to get feedback from the owners about the performance of the building, also about the costs, and about the design, and about the good and the bad and the ugly as as it’s kind of like our first designs, right? It’s like when we went from pneumatic to Rs 485. It was like a whole new way of designing a project. Well, the same thing happened a couple years ago with IP. And so we’re fortunate in that we’ve seen it for a while now. And we’re going to bring up a panel of experts who are going to help you all understand what they’re seeing today, right? What are we seeing today? What happened, right? And what’s the what’s the impact on today. So that’ll be the session right after this, that’ll be on starting at 1130. And in this room, all the sessions, by the way, are in this room. And then tomorrow, the first session I’ll be hosting is around what I call platform wars and data dynasties. And essentially, what my theory is, is that when I started in the industry, I looked at the manufacturers branches as sort of like the gods in the industry. They got all the big jobs, they had all the big owner relationships. Well, what I’ve seen in the last 1015 years as the independent controls contractors, whom became integrators, whom started to adopt their own software platforms on top of manufacturers have created this new trend called an MSI. And they now they now are commanding some of the largest bas relationships in the country. And the whole thing is switched. The the independents now are the ones that are the are the driving force for a lot of the major projects that people are that we see come out today. And it’s a total different time. Now, on top of that, with all these platforms, of course we have layers of software going in, right? Well, who gets the data? Who gets the manage services after the project, right? It’s a data dynasty, it’s always been one it’s been whoever owned the owners data owned the owner and all the services that went with it, it was a no brainer, everybody knew it. Well, now, the data is all parsed out. Sometimes the owner puts it on their own servers and whatnot. So So data dynasties, what does that like today? Who’s what is the data? You know, how do you become the next great data dynasty in the BAS industry? So we’re gonna jump into those topics. I got a great panel for that, too. That’s tomorrow. So super excited for that one as well. Oh, by the way, says your next 111. Oh, thanks, Bill. I appreciate it. My I’m not I can’t like these glasses. I can. I can’t see down with them. But nearby. I’m getting old. I probably knew bifocals stuff. Anyways, so. So thank you for that. So that’s at 11. All right, so. So we have a few minutes left here today. And what I’d like to do now is, this is actually the only real working session that I’m going to that Mr. Ken Sinclair is going to work in. Okay. So we were so fortunate to have them 50 plus years experience in the industry. And while I can parade them with questions, I’d like to prompt the audience with Is there any questions for myself can or anybody on the panel to start? Especially Can
Marc Petock 39:14
I just ask one thing in your different businesses? I just like to get a poll, how many end users are in here by chance? One, thank you how many system integrators slash contractors. Majority? How about technology providers? Cool. Thanks.
Scott Cochrane 39:37
All right, I got the mind. First question.
Audience Question 39:44
This will kind of be for all the panelists. First off, Mark, I want to appreciate your perspective on the expectation because I think that now, in order to be like a high level, commercial real estate building, you’d have to not just say that you’re a really nice looking building and look pretty but you’re also gonna have to prove that you have quality Hearing, zero carbon plan all that stuff. But what I really want to ask about was, you know, Brad’s comment around the openness. And I know that everybody on this panel really believes in open platforms. But what I wonder about with that is, are we creating kind of an additional future problem? In the way I look at it is I kind of looking at like cable companies with television, everybody hated their cable provider back when that was your only option. And now we have a million options. But I also have options I don’t even know I’m still paying for because there’s so many providers for every different app. So how are we going to protect consumers or customers in the future, when they do start running into I’ve got 50 different software applications that I want to put on my Bas, how do I manage all these licenses? And is there is there any kind of forethought that we’re doing around that? Because caughlin, you guys deal with that all the time with your licensing, so you know how difficult this can be? So as it scales out, you have more than just a treaty on board more than just something like that you have to deal with? What can we provide for the customers that will kind of help them navigate that, if any?
Scott Cochrane 41:01
Yeah, well, I guess I’ll start. I think one of the keys now is a properly, a properly designed cyber secured ot network. It starts with understanding what you’re putting on your network, what it does, and how it’s managed. I mean, that’s the first thing that you’re we see a lot of people in the building side missing, they throw a bunch of software on their own on their business networks. They expect their IT departments to keep track of all this software. And and when it all comes push to shove, they can’t get what they need when they need it, because they didn’t organize it or engineer an OT network properly to support themselves properly. It is all about change. So as we move over to this IT environment, the whole thing’s got to be designed to change. And it’s got to be ready to be changed because of cybersecurity. And it’s an ongoing thing that will require constant change. But I think a lot of my opinion is a good it all. It’s all about that initial engineering of that ot network. And and how you manage and in, in organizing,
Marc Petock 42:08
I think, to add what you’ve said, Scott, and good question is that I think part of technology providers and system integrators, the folks who deliver this stuff, is to create some kind of toolset or whatever that keeps an inventory of what you got. Because let’s face it, how many of us have walked into buildings, and the owner, aka our facility person says, Oh, we got this and this and you open up a closet, you know, what is this? You know, we see that each and every day. So I think it’s part of the management of that building operating platform to know what apps you have on there, what software you have on there. But you’ve got we’ve got to create something for the building owner. And one of the thing is, I’ve also noticed that the change changed is the building owners have gotten much more involved now in making their decisions. And what they want to do they have more knowledgeable people in the space than they did five or six years ago. And so which I think is a good thing that helps versus a non absentee, sorry, an absentee owner or something like that. Just put it the stuff in I don’t care. I’m just a crap about it. So anyway.
Brad White 43:30
Yeah, I mean, I agree with the premise of the question. And we’ve got clients who have one piece of software that they’re paying for not using. I mean, as we get more and more, you know, it’s gonna get worse. And it’s funny, because in my role, a lot of the times we find is actually talking and owned by in software. Because I have seen the same thing, repeat often not from there, they’re kind of sold a bill of goods, but they don’t have the organizational capacity to make use of the tools that they’re being sold. So why it’s funny, as engineers, we actually are our biggest challenge is actually working with the people in the building. So we spend a lot of time coaching and mentoring and and kind of by necessity, helping them set up sort of the organizational infrastructure that they will need to then even take on something as basic as the old detection diagnostics tool to allow them to be proactive about their their maintenance, even that is still a struggle for a lot of organizations. It’s kind of like classic example of a piece of software that people are still buying today and then not using. So I think part of it is those who are for recommending the software. I mean, first of all, there’s lots of very aggressive sales people out there and pushing lots and lots of different software. So I think building owners need to get very savvy and whether that’s by hiring third party advisors or developing it has expertise to get really scrutinized. All these purchases and you know, only taking on board things that they have the capacity to manage. And then once they do you know everything that Mark and Scott said about making sure they’ve got to properly manage and not just counting on the IT departments to look after for sure, I agree with all that. But I think Step one is to be very, very skeptical. But every new purchase of software, and in my experience has been the vast majority have delivered only a fraction of their reported value to the owners, because it may be nothing against the tool, just maybe the organization people isn’t running the building, have no capacity to be able to use use these tools. So I think that that’s job number one is is making sure that anything goes into the building that can actually be used by the people in the building.
Scott Cochrane 45:50
Awesome, great question. More audience questions. In the back, awesome.
We’ll get you next. Gotcha.
Audience Question 46:05
Pertaining to Scott. We’re a contractor, Illustrator, you’ve read multiple lines to talk about hiring people, we hire somebody, multiple models, what is your recommendation, we are able to find that person and be able to hear your attorney pick out person A and train them on brand as you try to cross train them on all of
Unknown Speaker 46:30
your recommendations from the board and then from someone new and we hit them with all five within the first year.
Scott Cochrane 46:38
Can you honestly
Kim Brown 46:38
really depends on what their their current background is and what their capacity is to learn because everyone learns differently. So some people are gonna probably be able to pick up Yeah, five product lines in a year and be rock stars. But some people may need a more tailored approach to that where it’s a little more strategic. And it also depends on your business needs. Where what what do you really need them to do to be effective for you right away. So is that pick one line for now, laser focus on that and go on. So I don’t think you can apply a one size fits all approach, because it’s very individual, how you can grow your people. I think mentorship is a great way to do that as well, by partnering them up with someone else in the industry, that’s going to be able to give them a well rounded experience. Because ultimately, that’s going to be very important for what you need. Because if you siloed people too much, then they don’t always have the correct perspective down the road.
Audience Question 47:34
We’re talking about how to not offer that.
Scott Cochrane 47:38
We know we we do offer that training. Yeah, we have a theory of VA S class. And the purpose of that class is to teach people from outside the industry, just the vocabulary of the industry. Okay. That’s what when I got into the industry, when I when I joined the industry, my my dad, and people been in the industry for a long time, they said, Son, you got to learn the vocabulary. Because once somebody learns the vocabulary, the industry, the product line is just a deviation of the vocabulary, right? But they got to understand the vocabulary first before you start throwing product lines at them. Right. That’s, that’s what we found is the critical thing is the vocabulary. And we do have a very special vocabulary. We got a lot of acronyms. So Mike Mitchell right here, CTO Cochran supply came to work with us forever ago. Can I say it? Can I tell the story? So Mike came to us with a complete it background. And brilliant IT guy. Of course, we put them with the customers right away on some projects. And he’s sitting there looking at a drawing and he announces to the group, he says, What are these valve things valve boxes? What am I supposed to do with these? So like I said, we have a we have acronyms, we got a vocabulary. And we always, we always tried to get first. Right behind the idea. Another question over here.
Audience Question 49:00
Yeah. You guys talk a lot about how you see owners driving towards wanting to look at their data, look at their buildings to make changes. I’m just curious, what motive what’s Can you give examples, specific motivations, the building owners have to do that analysis on their performance. And what have you actually seen? Because,
Scott Cochrane 49:25
yeah, could I Brad, could you come in on that one? But did you hear that question? Yeah,
Brad White 49:30
yeah, no, I get there. Yeah. So this is fairly new. I you know, I think a lot of the data analysis was it was a capability looking for problem itself. Up until very recently, so where we’re we’re finding really practical obligations for is when owners are looking to make a major changes to their building systems and in our world, a lot of it’s been driven by the drive to reduce costs. emissions and classic examples were, were installing big air to water heat pump to take on bunch of the heating load, or we’re converting over the domestic hot water from natural gas to now we’re using carbon dioxide heat pumps was coming outside as refrigerant in the heat pump. But these systems operate very differently than a gas boiler. And they have temperature limitations, they’re very sensitive to flow. performance varies with a dryer temperature, all kinds of different things and never really had to consider. So we’ll we’ll use the data to answer some very basic questions. So you know, we’ll plot you know, heating load in the building versus Jerrick temperature and get a really good sense of real time. So we’ll take like supply and return water temperatures, pump flows, and we have that or we’ll take about balancing reports and kind of build this virtual model of that load in the building. And then we say, okay, we can, we can now see what the load is at different temperatures. And you know, how many, how many hours we spend in each temperature and how much energy we use at each temperature. And so then we can size the heat pump appropriately. So I mean, the thing with with, with heat pumps is they’re compared to a boiler, every BCU costs you like 10 times as much as a gas boiler. So getting the cost right is very, very important. You don’t oversize the system too much. And it’s because it’s really expensive to do so. So we’re using the data to size the system based on actual performance, it’s a basis, we’ll test the building will say, Okay, we need to draw water supply, demonstrate from 170, down to 150. To make this heat pump work, let’s do that. And then watch what happens, like the add on room temperatures. And all that kind of thing.
Marc Petock 51:50
So look, I’ll add something to that. And for from the technical perspective, that’s bread, I’m not a technical guy, let’s look at it from the business perspective, is this to say, alright, I’m collecting data on all my equipment, my rooftop units, my air handler units, or whatever the case is, I’m saying they’re not functioning the way they were intended to think commissioning. So you get all that done now, that can extend the life of that particular unit by X amount of years. So in other words, let’s say the average rooftop unit is 15 years, whatever it is, by getting the data look, looking at the data constantly, you can extend the maximize the lifetime value of that rooftop unit and extend it for another, let’s say five years. So what does that do for in real estate spake, that allows the building owner and the operator then to utilize that money in all capex OPEX and re appropriate real portion eight, the the money and put it elsewhere? So you can, you know, do a lot of different things once that date once you have that base that Brad talked about.
Scott Cochrane 53:06
Yeah, great question. Thank you. Eric, did you have a question a friend?
Audience Question 53:10
Yeah. I just got to ask, I love the idea of a chief people officer, can you give me a job description I want to see maybe I might qualify someplace for that.
Kim Brown 53:23
So this is a new role for me started about a month ago. So my focus really is on not just the metric space, older way of looking at HR, but more thinking about it holistically where people are first, especially at a place like Cochran supply where we’re a distributor, we don’t manufacture products, our people are our business. So we want the best people that we can get it. And so my job is to really focus on recruiting and finding awesome people for the industry, teaching them what the industry is. And then you know, like I mentioned earlier, advancing their career through development. So big focus on the people first, that’s really where the title comes from. So a lot of finding them and really focus on and retaining them making sure the company culture is good, that workplace people want to work. Any clues on where to find it? It’s really hard. They spend a lot of time doing. Networking is great. Obviously, trying to trying to meet new people at events like this is always super important. Always making sure that you’re building a pipeline by saying, you know, let me know if you’re ever able or, you know, people approach us all the time asking us to work here because they know that we’re a great place to work. So, you know, our people are big advance ambassadors for our company, because they enjoy what they do. And we do we make sure that that’s something that’s gonna stay that way.
Audience Question 54:53
One more I’m already allowed. You loud Gabby. Just a quick question. Our industry studies we throw away with selling products that don’t involve trucks and ladders and stuff like that. What’s the secret to selling analytics? hosted services, which I kind of see as the solution to his problem, you know, you don’t have to manage software, we just subtract from it, right?
Scott Cochrane 55:20
I think it’s, it’s, to me, it’s understanding true value, you know, just throwing software at people to throw software at people to sell it. I mean, you know, there’s a lot of that, but if you have a need in your building, and there’s a software that can answer that need, that’s value, right. So it’s about I mean, to me, it’s about value. I mean, you gotta, you can’t sell software to a customer that you don’t understand that customer. I mean, you got to understand your customer and what their needs are. And if the software meets their needs, you probably got a sale.
Audience Question 55:54
Is the traditional building automation and control contractor the right path to market using for that?
Scott Cochrane 56:00
Absolutely, yeah, because they’re the ones who can come back in and achieve the goals that you’re looking for a lot of times in energy efficiency, or operational efficiency, they have their fingers on all that stuff. So yeah, I think it’s certainly the right people to bring it to market.
Marc Petock 56:16
And I think to add to a good answer, Scott, and I think to add to that is also having the conversation with the right people who understand the true value behind that, not somebody who, oh, well, I’ve got to just make sure my AC is running functionally, or whatever. And again, nothing against that type of person, they’re equally as important. But again, that value, I think, comes with speaking to the right conversation. And I personally believe that should be part of the initial conversation, when you’re talking about the outcomes, the strategy, what are you what does this building owner want to accomplish to get out of their building or buildings each and every day? Or financial? Well, finance is just part of it
Greg Fitspatrick 57:06
will also I found that most really, really good ms eyes, approach their customers, and try to get the position where their follow up as a trusted advisor. Right. So anything that has to do with that end users building, right, or facilities, whether it’s Operational Technology, or anything else, they come to you first, which will allow you to go out and find the resources, whether in house or externally to put together a plan, right. And that goes back to, you know, what he said, you know, you have to talk to the right people. But if they trust you, that you’re looked at as a trusted adviser, to contract.
Brad White 57:48
A small example of that from a local local control contractor here, it kind of building on that point is they Yeah, they used to sell fault detection packages. And yeah, they’re running the same problem, you know, talks about before where no one there was no uptake, nobody was really using them, a few authors would, but by and large, they just kind of sat there and did pay for a year subscription. And then that would be it. So what they pivoted to doing was saying, Okay, we’re not going to sell you the software packaging, or we’re going to make it part of our service package, we’re going to deploy the software, or we’re going to be the ones using it, we’re not, this isn’t a tool for you anymore. This is we’re going to use it to offer you a higher quality of service. And then you know, the things that advisor will, will use as part of our service routine. And we’ll also you know, just let you know what it says and we’ll bring forward the action items for your for your consideration. And they got a lot more success with that approach than they did tried to sell software licenses when they integrated as part of their service package. I think that that’s when all of a sudden, the use of the software kind of sales of the software went through the roof because all of a sudden, there was real value there.
Marc Petock 58:57
And then as the I T suite has become much more involved in conversations and decisions is are we that far off from truly offering a complete as a service solution from the hardware from the software, because again, at the end of the day, the hardware term that I like to use is the data. And the connectivity contained within the hardware is much more valuable than the piece of hardware. And the hardware is just an enabler to connect, to help integrate to help interoperate and get the data and I believe we are not that far off from making plates to walking in and again, depends on the size of the opportunity, not your small and medium sized building, but multi site multi campus where it’s everything as a service, one flat fee per month. And that’s it. It’s so good. This gentleman asked a great question which I’m assuming you’re thinking It’s 2022. Let’s move from schlepping brands and logos and parts and solving problems, solving problems and focusing on outcomes. All of a sudden the wrenches, the trucks and all that sort of disappears, doesn’t matter what you’re then interacting with, you’re solving problems and you focus on the outcomes that matter.
Audience Question 1:00:22
Scott Cochrane 1:00:23
It is and that’s a great closing to the opening session. So that was awesome. Way to close it but also thank you Ken.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai