Hello, my name is Clayton Miller and I’m a Research Scholar at the National University of Singapore and a 2009-2010 Fulbright Student Scholar. I grew up on a farm in western Nebraska in the United States, attended the Univ of Nebraska to study engineering, and have worked in Omaha, Nebraska for 3 years in the building industry before coming to Singapore. I would like to take a few minutes to give you an idea of who I am, what makes me tick, and why I would be a valuable member of Sandbox .
So thus is the question, what makes Clayton Miller tick? Who is this guy, Clayton Miller? What does he thrive on?
Well, in one word: Challenges. Ok, that is kind of cliché, right?? What kind of challenges are we talking about?
Well how about Saving the world? How exactly can one person effect what goes on in the world? What do I plan on doing to help solve the problems of my generation and that of future generations?
For me it comes down to one thing – Energy. Energy is an ubiquitous part of every person’s life. It is what turns the lights on and off, what makes our cars go fast and what keeps the flow of digital information flowing. The production of such energy is the main consumer of the world’s fossil fuel resources and producer of carbon emissions. The future of energy consumption and production in the world is an issue that is coming to the forefront of problems that will be encountered by my generation and those to come. So how exactly do I plan to influence this field?
Well for me, it comes down to the built environment. As a 2007 graduate of the Architectural Engineering program at the University of Nebraska, I have been studying building energy efficiency before it was cool. My focus in school was to learn about innovations and techniques to reduce the consumption from the Residential and Commercial sections of the pie chart you see here. To reduce the impact of the USA’s energy consumption by reducing the demand and not just by changing the way to we produce it. This is something that I’m very passionate about as you will see. Now let me give you a little idea of some of the potential for this field, how I’m currently making an impact, and my plans for the future
Here you can see the magnitude of potential that energy efficiency and conservation in buildings can have on the US energy market as compared to the mega-hyped solutions of wind and solar energy production. The Energy Information Administration predicts that the installed energy production potential of solar and wind energy is approximately 200 Billion kWh in 2030. This figure projected figure is still around 2% of the predicted production of US energy – and that’s taking into account all the growth of those industries in the next 20 years. Now consider that buildings are projected to consume over 7 trillion kWh in 2030. If the building industry is able to construct new building and retrofit existing buildings to use only 10% less energy than expected – this would be almost 3.5 times MORE energy than the impact of solar and wind energy combined. I believe that this is achievable with even the technology that is currently available now.
So, you might be saying now – ok Clayton, we know you’re passionate about building energy but what can be done and what are you doing to help in this effort. Well for me, it comes down to a few key solutions:
The first involves the building design process. My background as a mechanical systems designer at large MNC architectural engineering firm helped me understand the pitfalls that occur in the design and construction industry. It is common practice now for the process to be linear in which the building design is handed down from one stakeholder to the next with only minimal collaboration. This produces designs in which energy performance is not verified early in the process as generally the Mechanical and Electrical engineers are the source of expertise on energy simulation technologies.
Ideally the process should be a collaboration from start to finish with all stakeholders bringing their expertise in at the beginning of the project. In this way, the engineers are allowed to help the architects make energy-related decisions in the most cost effective manner. In my design career I have organized events through the local engineering and green building organizations in which professionals discuss and learn about how to improve the design process. I am currently undertaking a Fulbright Grant in Singapore and part of my focus is to enhance the capability of a widely distributed energy simulation program which engineers and architects use to predict the energy consumption of a building before it is built. This allows them to understand where the “low hanging fruit” of energy savings are buildings in the planning phase and those chosen for retrofit.
The next area of opportunity lies in optimization technologies for building energy systems. Sounds complex, right? Well it is in a way. Think about a building as a machine with hundred of moving parts very similar to a car engine. Each component of the system has a optimal setting or setpoint based on the characteristics of the building – climate, type, occupancy, etc. All of the components as a whole affect each other in numerous ways and contribute to the overall energy consumption. In theory there is an optimal combination operating settings for each individual building system in every unique building. In common practice today, many buildings are generally all operated in the exact same way with the same set of operations settings. There are numerous opportunities for optimization technologies to come in and tweak each individual building to the highest performance possible. I consider myself a zealous evangelist of these technologies and am currently seeking collaborative opportunities with companies and individuals from various fields, not only engineering and architecture but also IT, business, marketing, etc
The last important component to my building energy solution is global collaboration. It isn’t just the US and Europe anymore that are sucking up the world’s energy resources. Developing economies like China, India, Brazil and many others are quickly becoming major players and implementation and education about high performance buildings is extremely crucial as much of their building construction and operation habits will change dramatically over the next few generations and, unlike the US, it would great if they started out on the right foot. As a Fulbright Scholar in Singapore I have learned a lot about the Asian construction industry and have tried to promote my vision and ideas as much as possible. I have traveled to Europe and South America as well to learn more about the cultures and potential collaboration and impact my ideas can have in those markets.
So now that you have a brief idea of who I am and some of my ideas – I can give you a glimpse into what I see for my future and what I have to offer in terms of collaboration. First off is my commitment to keeping updated and participating in research and related to building in order to mould and develop my ideas.
My next goal is to use this knowledge to collaborate with professionals in other the IT, business, marketing, and education industries to bring these technologies to the market in an effective and scalable way which can have the biggest impact. I plan to do this by networking in my current organizations and through involvement in new organizations with motivated, passionate individuals who are willing to listen.
And last but not least I would like to spread my ideas far and wide regarding the potential of building energy efficiency. I’d like people to understand not only the high level technologies but even just what kind of impact resetting their thermostat can have in the overall scheme.
Now that you have a good idea of what makes me tick – please don’t hesitate to contact me regarding collaborative opportunities. Thanks for listening!!!
How to Save the World through Building Energy Efficiency