Seattle Wants to Be World’s Green Building IT Hub
The Seattle area’s lead economic development agency is aiming to make Puget Sound the world leader in certification for energy-efficiency building IT, ClimateWire reports for the New York Times.
The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is hoping that by offering its stamp of approval to such software, Seattle can serve as a third-party certifier of sorts. This could give customers in other cities the confidence to buy these products, and make Seattle a hub for green IT jobs, PSRC program manager for economic development Eric Schinfeld told a recent conference at the Brookings Institution.
In a recently released plan published by Brookings, Seattle-area business and governmental leaders propose the creation of the Building Energy-Efficiency Testing and Integration (BETI) Center and Demonstration Network. This would allow efficiency innovators to test, evaluate and integrate promising products and services before launching them to market, the report said.
Major components would include an energy-efficiency IT lab, which software design companies would pay to test and certify their work; and technicians to test the software in real-world conditions, in buildings throughout the state. (See chart, above.)
The strategy was inspired in part by Seattle’s concentration of green architecture firms and strong policies on green buildings. The city’s commercial buildings will have their energy performance benchmarked and energy ratings available to prospective buyers, tenants and lenders, under an initiative launched earlier this month.
The green building IT sector has also been showing signs of major growth. In March IBM announced that it will buy Tririga, a vendor of facility and real estate management software, for an undisclosed sum. Washington native Microsoft is also moving in on the market for energy management in commercial buildings, according to the company’s chief environmental strategist.
The state’s diverse climates also offer good conditions for testing green buildings, PSRC argued.
In Washington, “you can test in a rainforest, you can test in a more neutral climate, you can test in a desert, you can test in cold, you can test in extreme hot,” Schinfeld said. “And so we’ll be able to say to Texas, versus Alaska, versus California, versus Maine, here’s how we think this product is going to function in your environment.”
A spokesman for a major building-efficiency company, speaking to the Times on condition of anonymity, expressed doubts about Puget Sound’s plan. He said his company’s technology is well-proven, backed by billions of dollars of research.
“Commercial software developers simply do not need the particular third-party verification this proposed research center is offering,” the spokesman said. “We deliver proven, reliable systems based on decades of research, development and application.”
But Schinfeld said there are many smaller companies that would benefit from the services he is proposing.
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