Seattle Launches High-Performance Building Pilot

Today Mayor Mike McGinn announced the High-Performance Buildings Pilot Project, a new smart buildings partnership between the City of Seattle, Microsoft and the Seattle 2030 District aimed at reducing power consumption through real-time data analysis of Seattle buildings. This pilot program will use information technology to analyze the performance of buildings in real-time, allowing building owners to drive energy efficiency into existing buildings, without costly retrofits and without disrupting tenants.

“This program will help businesses save money and help us reduce carbon emissions,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “By developing this technology here, we can help make Seattle a global leader in clean energy innovation. That’s something we can export around the world.”

The High-Performance Building pilot program will create building information systems which capture and centralize the real-time data from the equipment that runs the heating, cooling, and lighting in buildings. These systems will analyze the data to identify and report items that could lead to inefficient equipment performance and energy waste, providing building managers with opportunities to use energy more efficiently. With this information, data can be used to adjust elements in each room of a building such as lighting, temperature, and the position of window shades to maximize energy efficiency.

“Throughout the world, Microsoft partners with cities to help address many of their most complex challenges, including the better delivery of energy efficiency,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft. “Seattle is the ideal partner for demonstrating how analyzing massive amounts of data can make buildings more efficient, and ultimately help cities around the world reduce their carbon footprints and address climate change.”

The City of Seattle and Microsoft partnered with the Seattle 2030 District, a public-private collaborative of downtown Seattle property owners and managers that has established a 50% energy use reduction goal by 2030. The Seattle 2030 District will work with pilot buildings to deploy Microsoft’s cloud data platform and the Accenture Smart Building Solutions to identify and implement energy savings opportunities.

“Seattle building owners are innovative and deeply committed to exploring new ways to run their buildings a lot more efficiently,” says Brian Geller, executive director, Seattle 2030 District. “The pilot’s goal to help owners and operators monitor their buildings every minute, 24 hours a day, and make adjustments to equipment in real time is compelling.”

One of the most appealing aspects of the pilot is the predictability that smart building systems provide. The project not only tells building managers how to optimize each piece of equipment for maximum energy reduction, but it also apprises them of the health of their equipment. “If you’re hosting a major meeting and learn two days in advance that a key piece of HVAC equipment is about to fail, you’ll have time to repair or replace it before the meeting,” says Rodney Schauf, director of engineering, Sheraton Hotel Seattle. “The predictive power of this tool can maintain comfort and reliability, which are just as important as the energy savings for many building owners.”

This pilot is funded in part by an “i6 Green Challenge” grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Economic Development Administration to test next-generation energy efficiency technologies. Another grantee, Innovate Washington, is leading a statewide effort to build the Northwest Building Energy Technology Hub to help prove investments in energy efficiency save money. The other grant partners are South Seattle Community College, the Cleantech Open, and Puget Sound Regional Council.

“This High-Performance Buildings Pilot project is another tool to help Seattle City Light customers make informed decisions about their energy use,” said Jorge Carrasco, City Light general manager and CEO. “Maximizing a building’s energy efficiency lowers costs for our customers and is part of our continuing commitment to conservation and environmental leadership.”

The City of Seattle will observe project implementation, performance results, and measurement and verification methods. The pilot participants, which include the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, The Boeing Company, the Sheraton Hotel Seattle, and the City of Seattle’s Municipal Tower, will share performance results and drive public awareness of the potential for information technologies to help achieve energy efficiency and carbon neutrality.

Read Microsoft’s case study here

See Microsoft’s infographic here

STEM Graduate Shortage? Computer Science is Where the Future Jobs Are

With all the emphasis on the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees, how do we make sense out of a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute?

As covered last week by The Seattle TimesThe Washington Post, and others, the report argued that there is no shortage of graduates in STEM fields overall, and that this applies to all of the various subfields of STEM, including computer science.

Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, pointed out in his opinion editorial in yesterday’s Seattle Times that the original report, and the subsequent national media coverage, confused the issue when it comes to computer sciences.

While there may be no overall shortage of STEM graduates, Professor Lazowska observed that it is incorrect to assume that all of these graduates are interchangeable. He concludes that the Washington State economy continues to exhibit a large and unfulfilled demand for computer science graduates. In Lazowska’s words: “Computer science: it’s where the jobs are. It’s where the future is.”

Read Professor Ed Lazowska’s full Seattle Times piece here.

New Plan to Develop Ultra High-Speed Broadband in Seattle Maintains City’s Leadership

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced today that the City of Seattle has reached an agreement with broadband developer Gigabit Squared to develop and operate an ultra high-speed fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business broadband network. The initiative, which will leverage the City’s excess fiber capacity, the expertise of Gigabit Squared, and the community leadership of The University of Washington, aims to stimulate business, advancements in health care, education, and public safety, and aims to enhance quality of life for residents and businesses in Seattle. According to University of Washington President Michael Young, this joint effort is meant to make Seattle the most wired and connected city in the nation and help maintain its role as a major leader in the innovation economy of the 21st Century. The full press release can be found here.

The network, called Gigabit Seattle, includes three components: fiber directly to homes and businesses in twelve demonstration neighborhoods, dedicated gigabit broadband wireless connections to multifamily housing and offices across Seattle, and next-generation mobile wireless internet. These three components together will provide broadband, wired and wireless network, and Internet services, giving Seattle customers new choices. This is the first demonstration project by Gigabit Squared’s Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program (GNGP), which will eventually promote gigabit network innovation in six selected university communities across the U.S.

“This exciting public-private partnership serves as an example to communities all over the world of how universities and their local stakeholders can collaborate to drive economic opportunities by putting private investment to work alongside public capital,”  said Blair Levin, executive director of The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project (Gig.U).  “We’re thrilled to see our Gig.U member, University of Washington, at the center of this innovative initiative to help Seattle communities benefit from the advanced applications and services accelerating the meaningful use of this gigabit speed network.  Congratulations to all involved in the Seattle Broadband Initiative, in developing this world-class fiber network, that will support not only today’s needs, but foster innovation and serve the research and community development needs of tomorrow.”

Photo courtesy of gigabitseattle.com
Coverage areas for Seattle’s fiber network, wireless network, and wireless neighborhood cloud.

University of Washington says its annual economic impact is $9.1 billion

University of Washington says its annual economic impact is $9.1 billion
Puget Sound Business Journal
The University of Washington has a $9.1 billion annual economic impact on the state of Washington, according to a new report prepared by a Pittsburgh consulting firm.

Mayor Mike McGinn proposes letting bars stay open later, or all night
Seattle Times
Letting bars serve liquor later or even all night is one option Mayor Mike McGinn is considering as part of a new Seattle Nightlife Initiative to curb nightclub noise and violence. McGinn presented his proposal – which also includes required bar security-officer training, tighter noise restrictions and more late-night bus service – at a rock-concert-themed news conference Tuesday night on Capitol Hill.

Washington ranked 15th top state for business by CNBC
CNBC
CNBC yesterday released its America’s Top States for Business 2010 ranking. Washington was ranked at number 15. They use publicly available data on the metrics in each of the ten categories to score the states, and then add up those scores to rank America’s Top States for Business.

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As a service to the Seattle business community, the Office of Economic Development curates a daily business news blast, Daily Digest. As a new trial feature on Bottom Line, we’re posting a handful of stories from the Daily Digest every day.  Find the stories informative or helpful? Keep checking Bottom Line or sign up for Daily Digest to receive the full version in your inbox every day. Subscribe to the Daily Digest here.

Businesses, officials weigh in on street food vendors

City explores ways to increase street food vendors 
Seattle P-I
Seattle is on the verge of altering its permitting requirements to encourage street-level vendors, an idea with plenty of appeal – but one that also leaves its own set of questions.

University of Washington awarded $120 million defense contract 
Seattle P-I
The U.S. Navy Friday awarded a $120.4 million contract to the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory. The contract will pay for for up to 657,115 staff hours through April 2015 on research, development and engineering in seven areas.

Seattle-Portland among seven U.S. business centers for software and technology  
OrigoTerra LLC
High education levels, low cost of living, and lax fiscal policies have made Seattle and Portland a popular location for new ventures in software and technology. Northwest business culture is dominated by an emphasis on innovation, sustainable development and lifestyle enhancement.

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As a service to the Seattle business community, the Office of Economic Development curates a daily business news blast, Daily Digest. As a new trial feature on Bottom Line, we’re posting a handful of stories from the Daily Digest every day.  Find the stories informative or helpful? Keep checking Bottom Line or sign up for Daily Digest to receive the full version in your inbox every day. Subscribe to the Daily Digest here.

Huskies, meet City Business Casual

Washington Huskies, meet City Business Casual.

Tonight from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., join the City of Seattle and City Council President Richard Conlin at Polar Bar (3rd & Cherry) for City Business Casual, a night of business conversation and collaboration – and, thanks to Polar Bar’s special big screen TV – cheering on the Washington Huskies in their Sweet 16 game against West Virginia.

Whether in sports, business, or government, Washingtonians play hard. Now that’s something to talk about!

(Photo courtesy Getty Images.)