Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment

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FountainBlue’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment. Below are notes from the conversation.
Our panelists were quite bullish about the opportunities around sustainable solutions for the built environment, ranging from the materials innovations around building materials to the hardware, software, mobile and sensor opportunities around energy generation and management, to the design, operational and implementation options available leveraging today’s technology innovations in networks, software, mobile and other technologies.
But each panelist describes the hurdles interfering with rapid adoption, including:
• A fragmented market with a range of stakeholders and providers throughout the value chain, and the need to coordinate with each of the established players in that market;
• The dominant tendency to embrace complacency and the status quo with existing building materials and functionality; there’s no strong impetus to act for most people;
• Current low-cost options for everything from windows to lighting to building materials, making it difficult to select more sustainable, much more expensive options;
• The lack of policies and incentives to stimulate changing existing functionality and options;
Yet, despite these challenges, our panelists are able to secure funding, develop technologies, invest in research and development, and otherwise drive forward alternative solutions for the built environment which is building momentum and adding value. They shared some advice for others innovating in this space:
• Partner with entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, universities and other innovators to solve a real problem with real paying customers.
• Work with utilities and policy-makers to facilitate and incentivize wider and faster adoption.
• Identify and sell to areas of greatest need rather than focusing on educating a market that doesn’t yet feel a need.
• Collaborate and partner with all players in the value chain.
• Offer integrated solutions leveraging the latest technology to manage and automate energy usage.
• Use energy efficiency as an entry point, speaking to the ROI, but also provide additional information which provides added value and information beyond energy usage trends.
• Leverage the passion of sustainability enthusiasts.
• Facilitate the adoption of sustainability standards.
• Generate measurable results and speak to each person in the value chain based on what’s most important to them.

The bottom line is that there are huge opportunities in this space, but also huge barriers to success, like the Google and Microsoft projects. The successful innovators will understand the market needs and deliver products and services which address those needs, working with all pieces of the value chain, collaborating in creating a standard for the market overall.
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We would like to thank our speakers for FountainBlue’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum on the topic of Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment:
Facilitator Andrew Barnes, CEO, Asia Cleantech Partners
Panelist Joseph Gordon, Office of the CTO, Applied Materials
Panelist Jeremy Stieglitz, VP of Building Solutions, Redwood Systems
Presenting Entrepreneur Joshua Slobin, Director of Marketing, Daintree Networks Inc.
Please join us also in thanking to Applied Materials for graciously hosting us for this month’s event.

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