Tanya visited the OPB headquarters in September to talk clean energy tech with Think Out Loud. She got OPB's attention when Grist's list of 50 Fixers of 2023 featured her in early September. OPB invited Tanya in for a wide-ranging conversation from her unique perspective as a local leader in climate tech. Tanya and host Dave Miller talked about buildings' massive energy usage, the importance of occupant comfort, and CEL's role in helping reduce carbon emissions. Below are some snippets to pique your interest, but be sure to check out the full episode from the link in the sidebar!
"We are never going to solve this issue of energy flexibility unless we can also guarantee a certain amount of comfort. Unless utilities understand that people who are using energy—from the utility perspective, it's called the "load," but from their perspective, they’re like this is my CPAP, this is my oxygen, this is my refrigeration."
"If you’re a public building owner, you will need to make capital improvements in order to save that energy or get that kind of flexibility. And you might need to pass a bond in order to make capital improvements that can get you this kind of energy efficiency and control. Passing that bond is getting harder and harder. So they have no way to finance these energy enhancements. They need something cheap, fast. And then on top of it all, even if they do put in these heat pumps, they might have 30 to 120 rooms. All of them turn on at once. In order to manage that, they need to sequence when all of those HVAC units start up, in addition to keeping everyone comfortable. Because you might have elders, you might have children."
"A human would never have the ability to keep updating their strategy every five minutes in 125 zones. But it’s a computer, it never tires of this job. It’s the perfect job. I say that machine learning is like a toddler. If you would say to a toddler, “Every time the sun comes out, turn on this fan; every time the sun goes down, turn off the fan,” a toddler would love that job. So if it’s a job that a toddler would love to do, it’s the perfect job for AI."