The Smart City Podcast

Building Electrification - Insights & Impacts with Andrew Lehrer of Environmental Systems Design Inc.

January 17, 2023 Host Jim Frazer with Guest Andrew Lehrer Season 8 Episode 1
The Smart City Podcast
Building Electrification - Insights & Impacts with Andrew Lehrer of Environmental Systems Design Inc.
Show Notes Transcript

In this insightful episode, learn about:

 ·        The various catalysts sparking sustainability in the real estate industry

·        How electricity plays a key role in this process

·        How the rapid and expansive deployment of battery technologies will increase the resiliency of the nation’s power grid and improve outcomes for people across socio-economic spectrum

·        The complications and challenges facing the electrification of  buildings

·        The power requirements for lighting compared to other applications

·        Electric vehicle (EV) charging and the challenges of creating a supportive infrastructure

 Our guest today is Andrew Lehrer
 
Andrew is an experienced leader, mentor, strategic planner, project executive, and innovative mechanical designer with a proven history of successful projects in Chicagoland and across the country. Focused on life sciences, asset repositioning, and high rise mixed use markets, Andrew is a demonstrated leader in identifying fit-for-project opportunities to enhance sustainability and reduce GHG emissions. He's a licensed professional engineer in Illinois and California and a certified LEED AP.

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If you have an intriguing, thought provoking topic you'd like to discuss on our podcast, please contact our host Jim Frazer

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Jim Frazer  

Welcome again to an episode of The Smart City Podcast. Today, I'm very excited to be joined by Andrew Lehrer, Practice Leader of ESD. He's a specialist in high performance building design. Welcome, Andrew. How are you today?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Great. Jim, thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it. excited to talk to you today.

 

Jim Frazer  

Okay, well, we're thrilled to have you. Let's jump right in. Can you give us for our audience a little bit of background about yourself and about ESD?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, absolutely. I'll start with ESD. We're entering our 55th year in business, our headquarters is here in Chicago. And we're a consulting engineering firm. That's really heavily invested in Building Sciences. So we our core service practices, MEP services, but we also offer structural engineering consulting services, technology design, acoustics, and energy and eco services. And so essentially, anything that's involved in the design of a, of a building across many different markets, other than the architecture, we're here to help, and we've been in business for, like I said, since 1967, I've been with ESD, I'm entering my 21st year. So like started right out of school, and I've been in the commercial market sector for the last during that entire time.

 

Jim Frazer  

That's fascinating. You bring up just as an example, acoustics, there's a tremendous number of human factors that go into building design. And very often, it's typically just,  HVAC and lighting and security that come to mind first, but there's an awful lot of other impacts that will impact worker productivity and simply the health and wellness issues of the other building. So that's a that's a great broad perspective.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, I mean, we really view what we do is core to the user experience. So once a user has is occupying their space, how they experience it, their success and experience in that space, how long they stay there, how successful the overall asset is, over time, what ESD designs and the systems that we implement, the solutions that we implement into those assets are really pay play a critical role in determining that success.

 

Jim Frazer  

I'm sure before this topic, I just like to ask you, I'm sure your or my intuition is that your efforts begin with a robust assessment of the user needs of the client.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Absolutely. What we really pride ourselves on is that integrated approach that we have with our clients, be it architects, be it developers, landlords, asset managers, or owners, we really immerse ourselves in the success case, the success metrics and outcome requirements for each of our projects. We don't apply a one size fits all application or solutions to each one of our projects. It's really a bespoke case by case basis and understanding the overall goals of a project how our systems fit into those goals. And really how the user is meant to experience the space is very, very critical to how how successful we are in performing our services and why our clients keep returning to us.

 

Jim Frazer  

That's a great, so can you outline for us,  the current situation about building design in particular in terms of sustainability, resilience, the impact of some ESG requirements that are coming. And then more particularly, about building electrification. And I know there's a lot there. So please go through,  slowly all  any, any and all bullets that you might have on that topic?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, that's, that's what we call a loaded question. So I'll, I'll try to go through them one by one here, but I'll back up to one of the things you said, which is really about the, the SEC direction that that was published in March of this year. You know what that's required that that was really heavy catalyst and a lot of the movement that we've seen towards sustainability towards select electrification, specifically. And so in my 20-year career in our industry, specifically, as a mechanical engineer on the HVAC side, it was a pretty slow developing industry for many, many years. LEED, and the move towards sustainability really changed that starting about 20 years ago, I really consider the ASHRAE energy standard 90 Point ones 1999, version two who really have kicked that off. And we've seen a very rapid movement toward sustainability past just simple LEED certification toward heavy ESG centric electrification goals here in the last couple of years because of this SEC requirement, which is mandating in fairly ambiguous terms still open to public comments that any publicly traded company has specific reporting requirements that are going to be phased in over the next five years for scope one and two, and possibly scope three emissions as part of their operations as part of investor transparency. And that's really been a critical, critical catalyst, as I said, in both leasing activity and development of new assets. So fortune 500 companies that are looking for new space, because of this requirement, being one of the key drivers, they're really looking for assets that have this built in that have this data available or that are aligning with their specific goals, because they now have to report this over the next few years. It's become a critical, very critical part of their own operations. It's also very, very important to their employees. As we know, the job markets been incredibly competitive for the past couple of years. And part of retaining and attracting that very top-level talent is having it's not just talking the talk but having these specific transparent published operational carbon and sustainability goals as part of your operations that employees can look to understand this is what my company stands for. This is where I'm working. And this is important to

 

Jim Frazer  

me. Okay, so you mentioned a few regulations and guidances and codes. Do you want to perhaps expand on those a little bit, some of the AIA agreements, some of the electrification codes and in cities and perhaps well, you touched on the SEC, climate disclosures. But let's look at the AIA and some of the city and public agency codes.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Right. So there are 2030 and 2050. Agreements that several large corporations and members of our industry have also signed on to commitments I should say, to get to either net zero or significantly reduce their operational carbon by those specific dates. 2013 is right around the corner, a lot of leases, most leases that are being signed today are going to extend past that requirement, or past that specific date. So that's a really important item to understand is companies that have made these commitments, most of them are public and have signed on to these commitments. Those dates are rapidly approaching. And these actions that are required to comply with those commitments. They're not something they're not a switch that can be flipped. They're very heavily dependent on logistics and development and things that take years and decades to implement. And so we've really seen a significant drive to engage with that, those specific agreements here over the last four or five years. The other thing you mentioned is on the code sights on building code size, what we're seeing is in coastal markets, a few examples being Berkeley, San Francisco, Boston, Cambridge, New York now has a couple of local ordinances that have mandated it all and for all intents and purposes, building electrification. So we're seeing these building codes and our coastal markets requiring that this be implemented greenhouse either banning natural gas use like they do in San Francisco or effectively banning it via requiring emissions reductions in reporting such as New York is doing over the next five to year by 2050 from starting within five years. Those building codes are starting to make their way in toward Midwestern markets, they're cascading down to other markets because the folks that are leasing space in those markets in those markets, they set the table as they develop their standards based on double A and A assets in the coastal markets. Those requirements then drive themselves into markets that are that are that are outside of the coastal areas. So we're really starting to see that impact become very, very clear and leasing activity.

 

Jim Frazer  

So Andrew, in our in our conversation before we started our podcast today, I know that you had an ESD has an opinion that a key a key component of this entire process is electrification. Can you talk just about that generally. And then, and then perhaps a little bit about Net Zero operational carbon.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

So those really go hand those two items go hand in hand. And so net zero operational carbon, essentially is no onsite use or burning of fossil fuels at a specific asset or within a tenant space. And electrification is really pushing toward that we have an opportunity, as the grid becomes more and more renewable here over the coming decades. Just to give you an example, the state of Illinois, Illinois grid is a very low carbon emitter, relatively, that's heavily driven by nuclear to be fair, but it is about two thirds non carbon based. And Illinois being the third largest energy exporter, we play a leading role in energy production for the grid here. And we have a unique opportunity because of the fact that our grid is really only 1/3 carbon based. So driving that more renewable gives, then downstream assets, the capability of operating without any operational carbon. And what I mean by that is, if you're going 100%, electric, you're not burning natural gas on site. If that electric then is produced renewably at the grid level, then you don't have any on site, operational carbon, you can accomplish that today, either by utilizing renewable offsets, so purchasing green energy. But in reality, we're not going to be at a spot where you can have 100% on non-operational carbon until the grid is fully renewable, or you're able to produce that energy renewably on site. But that's the way the grid is heading. So standardizing around electrified assets using several different strategies, revolving around the use of electricity, minimizing the use of natural gas on site, and really developing strategies that if that's not feasible, either from a space standpoint, or from a cost standpoint that you're able to transition to that easily in the future, is a real key part of how we're planning our projects today.

 

Jim Frazer  

Well, that's, that's great. That's great insights. Let's go back to ESG,  a portion of ESG is about is about equity. We have quite a few energy challenges coming down the pike, not only green energy, and that that initiative, but the issues of reliability and cost. And to me, in many ways, it's a three-legged stool that, well, we don't want certain socio-economic communities to be disadvantaged any more than they already are. Nor do we want energy costs to rise and in a substantial geometric or exponential way. Can you talk about equity and greenhouse gas emissions and that ecosystem? Yeah, absolutely. So

 

Andrew Lehrer  

I mean, there's a couple things to touch on. The first being just the cost of power, so of cost of energy. And if we can, through intelligent investment through renewable energy, renewable energy is really going to allow at a grid basis, energy costs to substantially stabilize and be reduced over the long term. You even want to go so far as the really exciting news we saw this week about the cold fusion, ignition breakthrough, that technology still I mean, it's been 20 years away for 50 years, right. But it's coming at some point, and we have the opportunity in the meat and then several decades here, meantime, until that technology is mature, to increase the renewable portion of our grid. What that does in the long term is it does reduce energy costs and it substantially increases the resiliency of the grid utilizing these renewable technologies, both solar wind and a key component Other than being batteries. So as the use of batteries increases the cost of batteries, lithium-ion batteries specifically has dropped by almost an order of magnitude over the last 15 To 15 to 20 years. The rapid and expansive deployment of battery technologies be it in EVs, or on site will increase this the resiliency of our grid and will improve outcomes for people across socio economic backgrounds and geographies. And it's really important to understand that a lot of the power generation that does occur right now occurs in sites where or in areas that are socio economically disadvantaged, that have the end up having to deal with emissions and the knock on effects of having those plants in their in their neighborhoods and in their geographic areas, renewable plants while they do have their own challenges, without having the emissions, you don't have the air quality and the other long term health penalties that those communities have to pay. So the reduced cost of energy and in and of itself is a great equalizer. But the limited impact of the plants is also in and of itself a great equalizer that really contributes heavily to the to the equity portion of ESG.

 

Jim Frazer  

You might my last question in this area, it really revolves around there's so many moving parts, let's call it in, in the electrical generation distribution system enters, we're at plus we're transitioning from a master slave type network to a peer-to-peer arbitrage network, trading electrons with each other. It's very difficult to actually measure all those different components in contrast or do good solid cost accounting. I know that previous two are getting on this podcast today, you talked about transparency, and how that's a key driver. What does transparency bring to this, this effort?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

There's a lot of advantages to transparency that that are provided through use of technologies in both intelligent buildings. And in the sort of knockoff industries that are associated with that. And just to give a couple of examples, it really allows users to understand how they're experiencing their space, and also their impact on how the impact that they have on the space as they experience it. Just as an example. Intelligent building technology, what it does is it allows us to create really more seamless experiences for the occupants of our assets. It allows them to have insight into the systems and energy that they use, they can better understand because things are metered and displayed via dashboards or through an app on their phone, they can understand what their company specifically is doing the portion of the energy that's being utilized by them as a tenant or by them as a as an asset owner. And utilizing specific actions a user may have without insight into their own specific impact may have just left lights on not adjusted temperatures, not adjusted their behavior in any way. But what we have seen is the ability to measure these things in an intelligent manner and to integrate them into the user experience. So that is an example. Using a conference space, attending a meeting 30 minutes early, releasing that conference space and allowing somebody else to use it having the lights turn off having the HVAC system go into a setback mode, all of that can be measured. And tracked. And users can have that understanding that you know what I do really matters. It's more treating your office or treating your workplace, like your home, you wouldn't just leave the lights on or leave your refrigerator door up open into your home because you know you're more responsible for the energy bill that's really been the,  the key driver, but now, new folks in the workplace really have more of an a need to, from a sustainability and impact standpoint understand that their consequences or their actions have those consequences not just from a monetary standpoint, but from an environmental standpoint, and intelligent buildings, sensors and systems that are integrated across multiple flat platforms give users the opportunity to really understand the impact that they're having

 

Jim Frazer  

and are through that it's even more comprehensive than that. It's not just the user interface. But  Moore's law continues to affect the cost of sensors. And the price has continued to drop. So now you can monitor things like the bearing temperature on a pump, or a blower. And if there's excessive current draw, you guess, well,  your bearing needs to be replaced.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, one of the one of the really impactful things that we do is monitoring based commissioning. And so that we, after we design and initially commissioned a project, we enter into an agreement where we're monitoring the sights and understanding if something is performing outside of understood spec, or if there's an alarm that hasn't been zeroed, these things can have big impacts over significant over longer periods of time, if we all know how operating a building is, it's difficult, you're building engineers are dealing with one fire after a next hopefully not an actual fire, but one crisis after another, they have to react quickly. So oftentimes, they override things, they make quick adjustments, and then  they're all short staffed, and they're not able to set things back or to make the necessary corrections, we're able to monitor those items to make sure that that doesn't stand for a week, two months and have a significant energy or operational impact. Those types of technologies are incredibly beneficial to all both users and operators. Yeah, and

 

Jim Frazer  

I think that's where transparency comes in, where you do have a dashboard that might show you the most financially and, and the largest financial and the largest environmental impacts for each particular situation. So that you can task your whatever resources, you do have to address whatever is of the most importance to you at that point in time.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, when you walk into our office, we have a dashboard right in the reception area that changes back and forth between two different display types. One being an energy consumption that shows all of the meters directly serving our space in the energy use over time, the other being an air quality monitoring interface that shows all of our conference in common spaces, and measures air quality through several different metrics so that the folks in our space can understand that we're not only tracking that, but you're making sure that if any of those, those go into an alarm, or have an issue, that we're correcting it very quickly. And I think that's really important to people that, that experience our workspace, not just our employees, but also our visitors and our customers that they understand that we're, we're implementing these solutions in our own workspace, we value them as well. And we're not just,  talking, talking to talk, if you will.

 

Jim Frazer  

That's fat. That's fascinating.  both you and I and many of our listeners are engineers who are steeped in in a lot of this. And I've been hearing it for probably decades. But in many cases, this hasn't been implemented. I mean, I was a bit astounded last week, where I read a statistic where there's 500 million radiators in Europe that do not have thermos, thermostatic controls, for example. So what really is holding back the deployment, the design and deployment of these of these technologies that many of us take well for granted that they exist, and they’re regularly being had been put out into the market. So let's talk about complications, obstacles, impediments? And which would please outline those for us.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, sure. So a couple of things that are that just posed challenges is really sort of the kind of standard old villains. In logistics, right, replacing something that's currently working, although it may not be well, working well, or working efficiently. It's costly, the logistics of doing it inactive space are difficult to understand and implement. And so those are challenges, but  on the other side of that, it's also a big opportunity. So kind of coming back to the electrification side, what we look at is how does this how is this implemented both in new construction and then retrofitting existing buildings, which is a huge opportunity. We have a lot specifically here in Chicago, a lot of, of inventory of building of asset inventory that was built 50 to 60 years ago in the 60s 70s and 80s, that most of their systems are now aging out the technology that was utilized to construct those buildings from an envelope and energy and conditioning standpoint, ours is beyond obsolete. So we have some, some opportunities now to start changing those out and we're looking at a couple of different things. One of them being use of low global warming, potential refrigerants. So we have a lot of plants here in Chicago cooling plants that have chillers that are just aged out need to be replaced. We also have a unique opportunity, we have local incentives from our energy companies that incentivize replacement of those machines with more energy efficient machines, because obviously takes a load off their grid improves their customers experience as well. And so part of that is, do we use a standard industry refrigerant, which is a, from an environmental standpoint, better than the refrigerant that we're replacing from 50 years ago, certainly. But we have this new generation of refrigerants that is,  one 1000s, the one 2000s, the global warming potential of those industry standard refrigerants. And there are some additional costs to those, but it's incremental, when you look at the overall cost of the project. And with the incentives, it can be a win win situation for both the landlord and the community. Just as an example, we replaced some machines in an asset across the street from our building. We've been doing that over the last couple of years. And just by using that, quote, lower, lower global warming potential refrigerant was the equivalent of taking 4000 cars off the road for one year, which is one car for half the population of their building, that's a significant impact for the marginal amount of additional cost that they had to spend. And they get to enjoy that, the benefits of that over the 40-year lifespan of that machine. And so there are things that you can do that have fairly low impact and what I call low hanging fruit. But then on the other side of that there's heat pump technology, which allows you to go full electric, that technology, although it's rapidly developing, there is a cost and space impact for that. And just to give you an example, on the heating side, if you have a boiler that outputs a certain amount of heat, you can generally get that through a normal three-foot door. The same amount of heat from an air source heat pump, which would be fully electric, you're looking at something that's 25 feet long by 10 feet wide, it's much bigger. And so although that that technology has come quite a long way in the last 10 years, it's still not from a footprint and cost standpoint, on par with natural gas fired heating technology. And that's a significant challenge. It's not a plug and play.

 

Jim Frazer  

Yeah, I will still in that realm of impediments and obstacles, electrification may increase the load on the on the distribution grid is that how often is that an issue?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

It's an issue? Well, so from a grid standpoint, we're still understanding the overall impact, we have some folks that are working with our local utility. To understand the long-term impact, our local utility is confident that they're able to handle the additional grid demand over the next 20 years by both buildings becoming electrified. And there's a specific reason for that, not that I'll talk about here, but also just the added load of EVs, and which is,  fairly significant. But  in the city of Chicago, we actually have downtown, a lot of assets that are already 100% Electric, they use electric resistance heating, which is really just a one for one swap. So for every watt you put in, you get basically a lot out. And so the cost to operate that while it is 100% Electric is relatively high, and not on par with natural gas, which is generally cheaper per unit energy to use these heat pumps which can get you between one and a half and three watts out for every watt you put in. That's where you're paying those footprints and costs penalty. That's where it becomes difficult. But because the city of Chicago is already heavily set up for all electric resistance heating, our grid is already remarkably resilient. And in a good spot, other jurisdictions, other locations, that's more of a challenge where they're more accustomed to gas fired or oil or other types of heating technologies.

 

Jim Frazer  

So okay, you've given us some of the complications,  what do you see how do we surmount some of these situations?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Well, I think the good news here is where we do have some of these challenges. There's a couple of things we can do on the asset side, we can, we've developed our team here at ESD, what we like to call bridge solutions. So while we have these footprints and logistical challenges with using air source heat pumps, we've developed solutions where we can deploy them for a part of the buildings loads, so above a specific outdoor air temperature, we can handle all of the heating from the electric side, and then below that temperature, we can Neither use gas fired or electric resistance boilers, and that's a relatively small number of hours per year and an office asset, it might be 100 or 200, operating hours a year. So for the vast majority of your, of your operating hours, you're 100% Electric. And that's going to significantly reduce your onsite operational carbon that will also allow you in 15 years when the technology 1520 years when the heat pump technology has progressed further, the footprints have shrunk. And those that original equipment is starting to age out, you're able to swap that and do that relatively easy easily compared to having to decommission gas fired assets that are serving the entire tire building, it becomes more of a logistical challenge there. And so developing and deploying bridge solutions on the asset side is incredibly important. On the grid side, well, this is not my area of expertise for the full disclosure, what we what we're really focused on is working in concert with our local utilities to help them plan for these types of this type of a transition. So where do they all have specific assumptions that they make and standards that they use for residential buildings for commercial buildings for institutional buildings, when they're planning their deployment, we're working with them to help them adjust those plans to say, hey,  in the future, as these electric options, this electrification option keeps proliferating, you're going to need to plan for this much load and this much load and this much load for these different types of assets based on or versus what you're currently planning. And that allows them to, to, to intelligently plan for those changes over the next one to two decades, which is really how long it's going to take to get this fully implemented and make those make those changes in an intelligent manner.

 

Jim Frazer  

Let me let me before we move on to the impact of electric vehicle charging, which is a significant issue. Let me ask about I come from the lighting world. And in the in the projects you're involved in. What are the power requirements for of lighting compared to say HVAC, or some of the other applications, the elevators, the escalators, or other applications?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, lighting is actually a great success story. So when I started my career, 20 years ago, I'm talking about for, like a typical commercial project, lighting was generally in the one and a half to two watts per square foot range. And that's been cut by more than half. So code allows you to use just over seven tenths of a watt per square foot today. And most lighting is much more efficient than that the dramatic cost reduction of LED technology. And this is really bending your projects that I was doing not even 10 years ago, we're still using fluorescent lighting because of the cost of LED is now completely standard, I have not worked on a project that has used led and I can't even remember how long so that the drop in cost of LED technology and solar technology in the last 15 years has been a huge driver in the reduction of lighting power. The other is just intelligent control. So occupancy vacancy sensors, not just a wall mounted, or ceiling mounted, but even onboard and the fixtures. You see these in garages and stairwells and things like that, that has a big impact. If you think about just all the parking garages in the city, Chicago that have metal halides that are running 24/7 Those are being replaced by LEDs that are being switched, so much less draw at peak and then set back most of the hours that's a significant impact. But we're at the point now where we've really I think squeezed all we can under the lighting out of lighting we're to a point where we're actually I think over lighting in some ways the impact of lighting is so low now that we're seeing just lighting the dip being deployed in every nook and cranny and I think we've kind of bottomed out in terms of the impact we can squeeze out of out of lighting at this point.

 

Jim Frazer  

Yeah, I think the one of the pieces of magic about LED lighting is the dramatic energy reductions do pay for that that route that install and while you're there with that, while in internal install or truck roll on a streetlight very often you'll just put in an IoT sensor. And very often the largest impact is not just the safer and better quality of life lighting conditions but the idea that your streetlight could now backhaul Oh your sewage lift station information, or anything else or garbage I'm couldn't, you know container, refuse container filled level or anything that's a little hard to monetize and even measure. But having a backhaul network in the building that's ubiquitous is allows all that transparency to happen much quicker than it might have happened. In other cases,

 

Andrew Lehrer  

it's also just a reduction in maintenance. Not having to change an incandescent lamp every year, going into every 10 years or every 15 plus years, is a significant reduction in cost that that isn't always accounted for when we're doing these replacements, it doesn't really need to be anymore because the cost has become much more on par.

 

Jim Frazer  

So let's move on to EV charging and there's a whole constellation of different issues and subjects there from simply deployment of Evie charging stations to vehicle to Grid applications. To what do you do in a multi dwelling unit? Buildings? Can you touch on some of those?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, so Evie, charging is something that we've really seen proliferate here in the last couple years, it's actually become part of the city Chicago sustainable development plan to have 20% of parking what they call EV ready, which is having the capacity on site and the distribution logistics there. So you don't have to have the charging the chargers, the level two chargers at the space, but you have to have the power at the side, you have to have the vertical distribution and infrastructure there so that those can be easily deployed in the future. And this is this is a significant load that people need to understand what you're doing a big parking structure. That maybe we're working on a project right now that has 1500 spaces or 1400 spaces. So you're looking at 20, almost 300, Evie, charging spots, that's a significant, you know megawatts worth of power, it's a lot of power. But what it does, where it has some challenges on the infrastructure side,  as I actually own an EV, and what I found in the last year and a half of driving that vehicle is I've saved a tremendous amount of time by utilizing the convenience of number one charging at my home and not having to go to two fueling stations. But also, we have chargers at the garage right across the street from our office. And so just the amount of time I've saved by not having to go to fueling stations and the fact that I just don't ever worry about you hear about range anxiety, I never worry about how much fuel I have in my car, it's almost always full. And so the only time I really think about it is on is on road trips, which  that's a that's a big significant challenge. It's not really the urban deployment of these chargers, which in both urban areas is fairly good. Today, it's the rural interstate, fast charging network that really is something that needs to be invested in. And that's what is the administration is doing right now, through the inflation Reduction Act. We're seeing the,  the electrified route 66, with the charging networks deployed around Lake Michigan, here to serve Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. And so that is a big challenge that I think is being addressed. And it's going to take some time, and some investment in the grid, but it's at the end of the day, I think once people kind of escape from the fuel station, that what I call the fuel station mentality of driving an internal combustion engine vehicle, I drive it till it's empty, then I got to go get gas, you have to think of it like it's your phone, it's something you just plug in every day. And when you wake up, it's 100%. And you end up in case of an EV, more like 80 or 85. But it's just something that's always charged and that you're charging. There's just so much time that you're not using your vehicle that you just charge it, and it becomes so much more convenient than going to filling stations.

 

Jim Frazer  

Yeah, it's fascinating when you think about the cost of that asset and the utilization rate of the average, personally owned vehicle is two to 5%.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yep. 90% its title gets over,

 

Jim Frazer  

 over time, there may be fewer vehicles simply because people recognize how closely they offer what they what they do.

 

Andrew Lehrer  

The other the other advantage is that you're just we've seen it in sort of the deployment of commercial grade security cameras where a lot of people have,  video doorbells and things like that, what's that what that's done is created a huge  ad hoc Surveillance Network, which has its pros and cons that I won't get into but what the, the expansion of EVs which has now crossed 5% market share and in Illinois, we're about to hit 60,000 registrations. This creates an army of 70 to 100 Kw battery packs that are out there that with the right technology could act to stabilize the grid connect his energy storage during periods of nights. So as we transition to renewable technologies, we can charge our EVs right now everybody charges at night during low demand Well, in the future, ideally, we charged during the day when we've got that solar capacity, and then our batteries would act to stabilize the grid at night. That technology is not here yet, but it's coming. And sort of another exciting thing is just the, the renewable part of Evie batteries, we're really starting to get heavily invested into recycling of these batteries.  Redwood just is just announced this week that they're opening a recycling plant in South Carolina. There are other competitors that are doing that as well, where they're promising,  90 plus percent recovery on some of the critical minerals that,  represent long term security and economic risks to the United States. Being able to recover those minerals provides not only that increases not only that security, but also drastically drops the cost of those battery packs, and then in turn will drastically drop the cost of those vehicles and make them easily to deploy in large numbers that we need here in the future.

 

Jim Frazer  

Well, well, Andrew, this we've covered an awful lot of ground today, very soon. So thank you. What, let's just shift to so what are the implement implications for the industry as we move forward in this ecosystem on  what do you see for the future? What recommendations can you make?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, I think what you would recommend, the big recommendation that I would make is for anyone that's planning a new asset, so somebody that's in the process of planning a, even a 15 year lease, but especially if you're looking at a 50 to 100 year, new asset, you need to really be intelligently considering, how are you going to make that 100% Electric, it doesn't need to be done today. But it will need to be done within the next 15 to 20 years. And so pushing that off for 15 years to figure out is not a recipe for success. If you're planning for a long-term asset, you need to be able to show that you can do that relatively quickly and logistically simply in the future. And a lot of that is developing these bridge solutions that we have, it's not just important for the financial viability of your asset directly, but also indirectly, because the tenants that are going to be looking to lease space from you are going to want to understand what is your plan to do this? If you don't do it on day one, what is your plan to do it in 10 years or 15 years, I need to be able to show this to my employees that we're occupying an asset that has this flexibility. And you may be asked to do it to accommodate an anchor tenant, it may be something that becomes non-negotiable. So having that planning in place is incredibly critical. For an asset that has a long timeframe, a long time. Long time horizon.

 

Jim Frazer  

That's great. We're nearing the end of our time, Andrew today. So other any additional comments you'd like to make for to our listeners?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Yeah, I guess the only thing I'd say is that I kind of mentioned earlier that you the first, the last half of the 20th century was a fairly low period of movement for my industry. And it's really drastically accelerated through the first quarter of this century.  we're really on the cusp of a lot of exciting things. It's not just electrification, but it's also the return to office environment. The fact that  what we experience in the workplace, what we expect out of the workplace, has drastically changed in the last three years. And a lot of that is very dynamic moving forward. And so there's a tremendous amount of opportunities with that,  with that dynamic condition, and the fact that we have these intelligent building technologies that allow us to measure and adapt to that, and it's just really critical that in our clients do understand this, that you're planning for that and that you're, you're understanding that this is not just a challenge, but it's an incredible opportunity.

 

Jim Frazer  

Great. For our listeners, can you share your contact information in case they would like to reach out to ESD or yourself?

 

Andrew Lehrer  

Absolutely. So you can find me on LinkedIn. Andrew Lehrer, l e. H, er, er, you can find me and also through our company's website ESD global.com.

 

Jim Frazer  

Very good. Well, thank you again, Andrew.  Today we've been speaking with Andrew Lehrer practice leader, a high-performance building practice at ESD in Chicago. I'm Jim Frazier, Vice President Smart Cities here at ARC and I was happy also in the background to be joined by Gavin Simon, our producer for today. So again, thank you, Andrew, thank you to the team at ESD. And we look forward to seeing all of our listeners again on next edition of a smart city podcast. Thank you very much.