3 Invaluable Lessons from Larry Eisenberg

  1. Building sustainability is not only environmentally friendly, it’s extremely cost-effective.
  2. Tapping into new technologies is critical for creating sustainable and net-zero buildings.
  3. It’s time to stop talking and start doing! Build sustainability and pursue net-zero energy on new and existing buildings.

This week, host Sue Dyer speaks with Larry Eisenberg, who is the Principal at Ovus Partners 360.  He has served as the Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Development for the LA Community College District (LACCD).  He directed the district’s award-winning, $16 Billion Sustainable Building Program. 

Larry’s Journey Into Sustainability and Starting Ovus Partners 360  (02:26)

Growing up in Los Angeles, there were days of just too much smog to go outside.  That prompted Larry to think about what he could do about the bad environment.  He went to MIT to study city planning, and then to work for the University of Wisconsin system where he got into sustainability.  From there, moved to LA, where he worked for a board of trustees that was committed to making the largest green building program in the world.  Ultimately, he created Ovus Partners 360 to carry those ideas into the private sector, specifically focused on “net-zero” energy (creating as much energy as you use in a year).

Achieving the Sustainability Goal at LACCD  (05:07)

  1. Larry mandated that architects working on designing the buildings for LACCD be LEED certified
  2. Of the 85 buildings built, 20 were LEED Platinum
  3. During the projects, LACCD and Larry learned that LEED Platinum building is actually cheaper
  4. The rest of the buildings were Gold certified
  5. Two buildings were “net-zero” and two complexes were “net-zero”

Why/How is Platinum Certification Cheaper?  (07:10)

  1. Building LEED Platinum calls for certain things that are automatically cheaper (e.g., no drop ceilings, using concrete instead of flooring, etc.)
  2. Critical thinking and innovations that lead to cost savings

Cost Savings Leading to Lower Maintenance Costs (08:40)

  1. Able to improve facilities management
  2. Used sophisticated management solutions and software
  3. Strategic materials choices to reduce ongoing costs

Technology Changes to Improve Sustainability (09:52)

  1. Windows that make electricity
  2. Rooftop Wind Turbines
  3. Lighting Design – DC Electric service throughout buildings
  4. Inexpensive Control Systems

What’s New in Photovoltaics (11:20)

  1. Photovoltaics are becoming more efficient and much cheaper, from $8/watt installation initially to $1.70 today
  2. Sustainability is cheaper not just environmentally friendly
  3. There are technical advances in installations

Advice on Creating and Implementing a Sustainability Strategy (13:10)

  1. Understanding it’s about economics: sustainability leads to lower operational costs
  2. Financing mechanisms available to spread costs over time
  3. Net-Zero energy outcomes leading to no bills

Payment Mechanisms Available (14:14)

  1. Power purchase agreements
  2. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)
  3. Net-Zero energy outcomes leading to no bills

Larry’s Other Sustainability Projects (15:40)

  1. Waste Management: Waste-to-Energy using Plasma gasification
  2. Net-Zero Energy projects, building projects net zero from the beginning
  3. Plastics Recycling

What Makes Larry a Successful Leader? (19:08)

  1. Supporting innovation and out-of-the-box thinking
  2. Surrounding yourself with bright people
  3. Communication and Feedback

Larry’s Biggest Mistake/Learning Opportunity (21:09)

Leaving LACCD and the events that led up to that: a series of LA Times articles that had negative things to say about the program.  “The trauma and process were daunting, but the idea that one door closes, another one opens led me to create Ovus Partners 360.”

The Very Best Advice Larry Has Ever Received (24:11)

A statement from the former Governor of Wisconsin, Lee Dreyfus: “The thing you need to realize is that our democracy is governed by the exact reflection of our population.”  There are bright people and not so bright.  You need to deal with people on an equal level the best you can.

Larry’s Favorite Piece of Tech (25:54)

  • His laptop

Resources for Listeners (26:39)

Contact Larry

Larry’s Parting Advice (29:42)

It’s time to stop talking about sustainability and start doing.  We need to make the decision to build sustainably, pursue net-zero energy on new and existing buildings.  Just do it!

Remember…Construction Dream Team drops every Monday morning at 4 am PST. Please join us next week when Sue will interview another industry leader or expert so you can learn how to create your Construction Dream Team!

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