Energy Hero: Ian Lahiff, engineering city efficiency

October 12, 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 Ian Lahiff from the City of Orlando to learn more about his role and energy initiatives.

1. Who are you?

I am the Energy Project Manager at the City of Orlando. A Florida native, I bring my passion for the outdoors and sustainability to work every day leading resource conservation efforts across Orlando’s 6.2 million square feet of City buildings.

Originally from Tarpon Springs, FL, when I'm not moving the needle on energy efficiency in Orlando, you can find me enjoying time on the water and finding new spots to hike and camp across the southeast.

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

Growing up on Florida’s west coast and spending a majority of my time in the mangroves, barrier islands and beaches instilled a strong conservation mentality. After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Central Florida, I cut my teeth with top engineering firms and even had a brief fellowship with the Department of Energy before moving back to Central Florida to join the Green Works team.

3. Describe your role and responsibilities at your organization.

I am currently the Energy Project Manager at the City of Orlando. My role includes leading a skilled team of construction managers and controls specialists, working to identify and implement energy-efficiency upgrades throughout the city's wide portfolio of existing buildings. As a licensed professional engineer and LEED-AP, I also help ensure all new City facilities are built to LEED certification.

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

The City of Orlando Energy management team is directly responsible for the municipal conservation goals outlined in the Mayor’s Green Works Initiatives. Green Works Orlando focuses on transforming Orlando into one of the most environmentally-friendly, economically and socially vibrant communities in the nation.

Charged with saving over $2.4million annually, my team recently completed a tremendous LED retrofit effort at the Amway Center. Even though it was one of the first LEED certified stadiums in the country when it was constructed (2010), the technology didn’t exist to effectively design the sports lighting system around LEDs. One of the most booked sports and entertainment venues in the region the team only had a small window to perform the retrofit. With the help of TLC engineering, Orlando Utilities Commission and Davco/Musco fixtures, the entire catwalk was relamped in just 10 days! The savings from this project should save the City over $300k annually.

Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Dyer and the City of Orlando Commissioners, the City has set a goal of powering 100 percent of municipal operations using renewable energy by 2030. Orlando is the largest city in Florida committing to this goal so far. My team will continue to improve the efficiency of the City’s municipal portfolio and work towards achieving 100% renewable based energy consumption in the years to come.

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

Stakeholder engagement is key!

I am lucky to live and work in a progressive environment with forward-thinking leadership. Our ability to succeed is rooted in Mayor Dyer's charge to listen and engage all parties before moving forward with policies that may affect the community and surrounding industries. I would encourage others working on similar initiatives on the policy level to educate the industry and really listen to the constituents.

Additionally, if any readers are working on municipal retrofit projects, I would advise them to start small and show savings before tackling the really massive projects. Showing that pilot projects work and pay back quickly, goes a long way to getting buy-in from the C-suite and executive leadership.