Jerry Yudelson

2 May 2013 — Deb Noller’s Switch Automation has appointed author and green building consultant Jerry Yudelson to spearhead its entry to the US market.

The company, which has 10 Sydney-based staff and one in the US, will soon open a second office in the US to roll out its technology offering designed to capture a wide array of building data in a cloud-based format.

Mr Yudelson, who was guest of honour at a salon in 2012 for The Fifth Estate and has spoken at several industry events in Australia, said that the next megatrend for the industry would be in performance tracking, and in his view Switch had “cracked the DaVinci Code for user-friendly, cloud-based solutions” to achieve this.

“For the past 15 years I have been involved in the green building movement. During that time we’ve figured out how to design good green buildings, but the issue now is less design and more actual performance: water and energy use in green buildings.

“Right now, there’s a huge challenge for consultants and owners trying to understand and improve the performance of their buildings, especially in real time. The next megatrend will be performance measuring, monitoring, reporting, improving and real-time control.”

Mr Yudelson also recently launched his latest book, The World’s Greenest Buildings.

See our extract from this book

Ms Noller, who was recently selected as an elite group of women entrepreneurs who would be mentored for fast track success by the women’s support organisation Springboard, said the appointment was “a significant hire” for the company, and she owed it to the G’Day USA conference three years ago where she first met him and to the NSW Government, which sponsored her trip there.

“I consider Jerry Yudelson to be the ‘rock star’ of green buildings. He is highly regarded both here in Australia and in the USA.  It is very exciting that we can attract talent of that calibre and further validation that we are right in the sweet spot of having the right technology, the right market and at the right time. We have always been able to attract amazing people and Jerry is a welcome addition to our team.”

Ms Noller told The Fifth Estate there were several projects due to be announced in the US and Australia that would validate the capacity of the group’s technology platform.

“We’ve done three pilot projects in Portland and we’ve got a number of other projects in Seattle; we’re talking to the whole West Coast.”

Part of the strategy was to alight with implementation partners – companies that were “integrators and implementation green technology engineers”, she said.

The best way to describe exactly what the technology does is that it is a data acquisition platform that removes the difficulty from properly managing large property portfolios.

In the US, she said, these could number hundreds and even thousands of properties.

“The biggest pain that people have is in data acquisition. Everyone has grief in collecting data.”

A key problem was to normalise and format data to suit the required need, such as for the National Australian Built Environment Rating Scheme or National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme, Ms Noller said.

“What I’m saying is that all the sources of data are different. A portfolio of a hundred – some have six or seven hundred, sometimes more than a thousand buildings in them [in the US] – will have some buildings using Johnson Controls systems, some Schneider, some Honeywell.

“Then there are sub-meters and different utilities suppliers and other people in the organisation collecting data, all of who have to have access to each building… just silos of data in silos of buildings, in silos of organisations.

“If we can automate that and give it back to the customer then they can do cool analysis to make really good decisions. If you only have $2 million to get energy efficiency then which buildings will you spend the money on? ‘Which of my buildings are the worst performers?’”

Switch Automation won a $2 million grant from the federal government’s Department of Innovation early in 2012. Ms Noller said this was the “the absolute catalyst” for her company.