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SCP E102 Climate change, energy efficiency and the built environment, with Don McLean

This episode of the Smart Community Podcast is brought to you by IES. Did you know IES provides 3D performance analysis technology that helps all those involved in the design, construction and operation of buildings to reduce the carbon emissions of buildings and cities worldwide? So far, through use of its technology, IES has prevented over 30 500 Mega Watt power stations from having to be built. IES is about to launch new, exciting digital twin technology that will help you create a more sustainable and intelligent world. You can find out more at www.iesve.com

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, Zoe has a fascinating conversation with Don McLean from IES. Don has been in the energy space for nearly 40 years, and is truly passionate about finding intelligent ways to improve energy efficiency as a way of combating climate change. Don shares why he believes aggregation and using the collective is imperative to making better decisions and being more efficient, as well as how he sees Scotland embracing Smart Concepts. He then tells us about his company IES, and how their ‘digital twin’ simulation technology helps in the design of energy efficient buildings, as well as some other technologies they are developing to support the creation of energy efficient groups of buildings, such as university campuses or city districts. Don then explains some of the barriers he sees to integrating across disciplines and really solving our energy problems in order to combat climate change. Zoe and Don finish their chat discussing the emerging trend of positive energy blocks, and how IES is trialling these. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Don’s background in the energy space and his absolute passion for planet wide energy efficiency
  • How the global concerns of peak oil and climate change sparked Don’s interest in the Smart Community space
  • The reason Don believes the Smart Community concept is so important
  • Why we should be using the collective to make better decisions and be more efficient
  • Don’s perspective on how Scotland is embracing Smart concepts
  • What IES does and how their ‘digital twin’ simulation technology helps in the design of energy efficient buildings
  • The need to tackle energy efficiency from two angles: from the operational side of things to the opportunities provided by thinking at scale
  • An example of how this might look in practice, on a Smart University Campus
  • The power of adding IOT and peer-to-peer systems to a Smart Building, Smart Precinct or Smart District
  • The barriers Don sees to integrating across disciplines and really solving our energy problems to combat climate change
  • The need for changes to ‘business and usual’ way of operating for utility providers and governmental approach to building regulations
  • The emerging trend of positive energy blocks, and how IES is trialing this in Trondheim,Norway and Limerick, Ireland


“It doesn’t have to be a city—it could be 2 buildings or it could be a million buildings, it doesn’t matter. And therefore, why can’t we have a Smart Campus, or a Smart County or a Smart Country or a Smart Continent?”

“We’ve got to think…in that more aggregated approach, rather than looking at individual buildings, as a way to solve the climate change problem.“

“When you aggregate [groups of buildings together] you’ve got one demand profile for energy…it almost makes it a simpler problem to look at a whole community [and] you get the advantage of scale…It generates efficiencies through the process.”

“Scotland, like a lot of other places, are not doing too much about it. There are pockets where [groups are] trying to do something about it. But it’s going to take a long time before we really see any action that will mitigate climate change.”

“It’s about being able to not just aggregate one group of buildings, but then being able to connect the different groups of buildings…ultimately to have a situation where you could aggregate the whole county, country or [even] continent.”

“If we are serious about reducing climate change and its impact, we’ve got to look at these more intelligent, effective ways of managing energy…It’s doing these kind of [large scale] things to solve problems that people can’t really address on their own.“

“The will is there. I don’t see the actions that look like all of these people get together and make this happen. At the moment what I fear is the fact that we’ve got to see some catastrophic problems and issues before governments and others will actually take serious action [on climate change].”

“At the moment in [the energy] sector, I don’t see that integration happening unless something serious happens with respect to climate change…I just do not see how we’re going to get action without [a catastrophe], and that’s the tragic view of it.”

“A lot of governments put together building regulations that actually cause as much energy inefficiency as they do save energy. As a consequence, I think the whole approach to government regulations has got to be adapted and changed so we can better test the energy performance of buildings in order [to] give them a rating.”


Connect with Don via email don.mclean@iesve.com or find out more about his work at the IES website iesve.com

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

Podcast Production by Perk Digital


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