kes2221 – Katie Sheehan
Sustainability Problem: Energy
According to the IPCC, buildings are responsible for over 1/3 of global energy consumption, which currently includes an incredible amount of fossil fuels. In order to stay on the projected 1.5°C pathway, the global in-place building stock will need to have 80-90% lower emissions levels than 2010 levels. While many countries, states, and cities have plans to decarbonize their grids in the coming decades, there are quite a few municipalities that have strict emissions laws that will cap and fine excess emissions in commercial buildings by 2030 (ex. Local Law 97 in NYC). In order to reduce building emissions and energy usage in the near-term (without spending millions on multi-year retrofit projects), building owners will need to reduce energy usage, including a good portion of which is currently controlled and paid for by individual tenants.
Mesa is a customizable kit created by Sidewalk Labs that uses an array of devices such as motion detectors, temperature/humidity sensors, proximity sensors, smart plugs, and digital thermostats that connect into Mesa’s software and cloud to provide automated energy decisions, visibility into real-time data and trends, and remote device management to commercial real estate buildings.
The system can also work at the tenant space-level to adapt to occupant real-time comfort, changing business hours, and returning to a post-COVID office and new concerns surrounding indoor air quality. Mesa also has a mobile app to display the data that is it collecting in order to show cumulative energy and emissions savings, provide a mobile action button for individuals to assess thermal comfort, and review a log of actions taken by the system such as turning off devices and adjusting indoor air temperature.
Building Owners: Building owners/investors are currently the ultimate bearers of the consequences of any municipal or other legislation aimed at capping or significantly curbing emissions in the built environment. This kit allows for more niche adjustments/reductions in energy usage to be made where building-wide energy management systems and “human-based” decisions in tenant spaces cannot reach. By allowing for greater (automated) energy control, owners/operators will most likely see increased alignment in reducing overall energy usage and carbon emissions with their tenants.
Building Occupants: Beyond aligning building owners and tenants along the lines of energy efficiency and cost savings as well as any sustainability goals and commitments, this technology can also allow individuals within tenant spaces to interact with and provide more real-time feedback to their indoor environments – providing greater thermal and air quality comfort which will most likely increase productivity and happiness.
Due to its high degree of customizability, Mesa has an opportunity to play in the small to large commercial asset space, and also connect with both building owners as well as occupants in order to garner interest in this technology. The kit is designed by the Mesa team in order to best suit the needs of the space and the degree of control either the owner/operator or tenant has over the mechanical/electrical systems and devices that govern the space’s energy usage. Additionally, the kit is meant to be a low-cost and easily-installed alternative to replacing entire building systems and equipment, which can be cost-prohibitive to owners that may not achieve utility bill savings to the scale needed to offset the heavy upfront capital costs. Further, this technology has the opportunity to increase tenant awareness of energy consumption and carbon emissions within their individual spaces, where building owners may not have any direct control but still be subject to local emissions caps set for the entire building. And finally, for office and retail tenants this technology can be used to recognize company emissions that must be monitored or reduced through any corporate net-zero commitments made.
Mesa has already announced a collaboration with Hudson Square Properties/Hines to deploy the technology within the 12-building portfolio located in the Hudson Square neighborhood of lower Manhattan. Hines is one of the world’s largest global real estate investment firms, and the Hudson Square portfolio represents about 6 million square feet of commercial space in NYC.