Energy Hero: Rob Richards, optimizing building performance

November 20, 2017

Energy, Sustainability, and Facility Heroes are the people who work tirelessly each day to help curb energy use to reduce carbon impact on the environment and increase their organization's savings. In this series, we highlight different Heroes to both inspire you and impart useful best practices. We interviewed Rob Richards from Wofford College to learn more about his role and energy initiatives.

1. Who are you?

My name is Rob Richards and I am the Energy Sustainability Manager at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. A fun fact about me is that in addition to my work at Wofford I am a row crop and timber farmer.

2. What's your inspiration? How did you get here?

My life-long tie to the land and what it can produce when managed responsibly has led me to the world of energy conservation and sustainability efforts. Prior to joining Wofford’s team in early 2017, I was the vice-president and project engineer for an electrical contracting company for almost two decades. Through this work I saw the benefits that properly designed, installed, and operated BMS systems could offer, like the ability to provide building occupant comfort while making wise use of energy resources.

3. Describe your role and responsibilities at your organization.

My role is highly varied. I aim to foster the responsible use of energy resources while providing acceptable building occupant conditions on the Wofford College campus. One day I may be participating in Physical Plant work on mechanical equipment scheduling or replacement discussions, and the next day I may be working with students.

I see student interaction as a key component in fostering Wofford’s sustainability efforts. We work to foster building occupants’ awareness of energy resources by providing tools like BuildingOS Storyboards that will be used by a variety of departments on campus. We are a learning institution, after all, and providing knowledge to our students must be our overreaching goal.

4. What's a tangible impact you've seen from your work?

I can’t choose one - energy resource reduction coupled with occupant engagement. Since both of these are ongoing processes, new opportunities for energy conservation are frequently discovered and evaluated. This past summer we identified several buildings that would see very little, if any, use for several months. We developed ‘unoccupied’ HVAC scheduling framework for these buildings and found substantial energy reductions. Now we can make the case to relocate some of our summer camps into different buildings next year so we can place additional buildings in ‘unoccupied’ mode and save even more.

5. How has Lucid or BuildingOS helped you achieve your goals?

BuildingOS has helped my energy sustainability efforts tremendously. Typical building management systems require specialized software to view any data collected, but with BuildingOS, all data can be viewed on a user’s preferred device. This has been very beneficial in sharing data and success stories with a variety of users on our campus.

I have found the platform to be very intuitive and flexible. With the help of the BuildingOS, I am able to convey information from our BMS system with ease, like demonstrating why we implemented an HVAC scheduling change or equipment replacement.

6. What advice do you have to share with others working on similar initiatives?

Expect varied attitudes and reactions to these types of initiatives. Some people will be very helpful from the outset and others not so much. Don't be afraid to keep asking questions, especially if the answers you are getting do not add up to what you observe! It will be worth the extra effort.

Rob Richards
Rob Richards