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Slipstream Energy Engineer gives E4TheFuture insights on smarter energy savings

Our Energy Engineer, Greg Marsicek, was interviewed by Carina Wallack of E4TheFuture for a recent blog post titled, “Smarter Energy Savings: Technology’s Expert Voices.” Greg was featured with several other experts in the field from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Google, and Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US. Check out Greg’s portion of the interview below and head over to E4TheFuture for the full article

What do you enjoy most about your work in energy efficiency? 

I enjoy learning about cutting edge technologies and how they work to save energy over traditional technologies and practices. I find it challenging and rewarding to work to overcome market barriers and educating the public on new technologies.   

How has technology in energy efficiency changed during your career? How do you predict it will continue to change?

I have been in the energy sector for around 7 years - which is a very short time. However, even in this short time, building energy codes have adopted many technologies that were once considered “emerging technologies” such as demand controlled ventilation and mandating lighting controls for most spaces. In some cases, the market has adopted more efficient technologies as they have become more affordable (for example LED lighting). In addition, the energy efficiency market has continued to grow in order to meet the demand for cutting edge buildings which are both beneficial for the environment but also for the occupants. Moving forward, I expect the demand for high performance buildings to continue to grow as well as for commercial energy codes to become more stringent.  

Are there new "cutting edge" energy efficiency technologies that you are excited about? 

Coming from a northern climate, I am most excited about alternatives and technologies that move us away from fossil fuel heating – which is a significant challenge. Currently, there is significant interest in ‘cold climate’ variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems. While VRF systems have been on the market for many years, recent advancements have been made to improve their cold weather performance – making them a viable option in cold climate locations. We have seen an increase in popularity of these systems, however limited research and data is available on their real-world performance. Another HVAC technology that we are currently investigating is adsorbent air cleaning – a technology which is used to reduce the amount of outdoor air required by cleaning the indoor air. Significant energy savings can be found by reducing the amount of outdoor air used.   

What new technologies are you hoping we will see in the energy efficiency field soon? 

A technology that is gaining traction is automated demand response (ADR) and Grid-interactive Efficient Building (GEB). This technology reduces demand when the grid becomes overloaded by implementing building control logic to reduce or shift demand during peak load hours based on utility and grid operator’s ADR signals.   

How can we best support technological innovation in the energy efficiency field? 

In our experience, one of the largest barriers to adoption of new technologies is lack of knowledge and data. Providing quantitative energy savings as a third-party unbiased source informs all stakeholders including local, state, and federal government, utilities, building owners and designers, and the public on how the technology works, its energy and cost savings in the field, and the cost-benefits of implementing it. As part of any technology study, we consider the barriers to adoption and how to best overcome them. We work to support contractors and the public on these technologies through training and education. 

How can we get more people to work on developing new technologies within the efficiency field?

Increasing awareness and educational/training events will grow the impact of the emerging technology and energy efficiency markets. Partnering with private companies as well as university and national lab researchers in R&D and in commercializing their new technology and products will expedite new technology market adoption.