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Q&A with an EcoXpert: How an EcoXpert Partnership Helped this Campus of the Future Maximize Energy Savings and Achieve Net Zero

Imagine a community of the future; one that offers housing, office space, restaurants, and even entertainment. It’s powered by renewable energy, the buildings are sustainable, and it’s a comfortable and productive environment for people from all walks of life.

Aspiria is that community of the future. It’s a live/work/play campus in Overland Park, Kansas, made up of 200 acres, 20 buildings, and 4,000,000 square feet of office space. Aspiria continually seeks ways to future-proof its operations, and so it decided to aim for a net-zero campus while maximizing energy savings.

To meet these goals, Aspiria’s director of engineering, Gary Schlotzhauer, and his team partnered with C&C Group, a Master-level EcoXpert™ partner, certified in Building Automation. Schneider Electric’s EcoXpert Partner Program is a global network of about 4,500 trained and certified partners that digitize and electrify our world for a more sustainable future.

C&C Group guided and supported Aspiria’s transformation to a net-zero campus. Specifically, Aspiria has achieved:

  • 16% reduction in annual energy use – a cost savings of about $1.5 million
  • 36% reduction in the campus’ carbon footprint
  • $700,000 annual labor cost savings
  • 0% downtime for any major building equipment

We sat down with Danny Davies, president and CEO of C&C Group, to learn how his EcoXpert team worked with Aspiria to achieve a campus of the future.

Tell us about C&C Group.

Building managers are too busy to keep up with every new technology and best practice for energy management, so they hire us. We help our clients reduce operational costs, limit liability and improve their work environments. We bring their buildings to life.  

How did Aspiria’s net-zero journey begin?

In 2019, the campus’ management group began renovations and improvements on the buildings. That led to better energy efficiency and cost savings, but then they wanted to go bigger: They wanted to digitize and decarbonize to live up to their “campus of the future” brand.

What role did C&C Group have in that net-zero journey?

We started working with Aspiria when we modernized their legacy systems and implemented Schneider Electric EcoStruxure™ Building Operation, which is a real-time building control system that improves building management, engineering efficiency, and addresses cybersecurity needs.

The EcoStruxure platform integrates systems and has a single control station for building automation and energy management. We can connect the campus’ smart devices and get advanced visualization and analysis tools to calculate, model, forecast, and track energy performance indicators. EcoStruxure Building Operation also put Aspiria on a more standard and advanced platform for cybersecurity, which was important.

Were there other challenges to achieving net zero?

It’s very difficult to monitor data for 4,000,000 square feet of space across 60 acres! Without EcoStruxure Building Operation, it’d be almost impossible. The system probably does the work of four people a day, every day.

Are net zero and sustainability important to C&C Group?

I’ve lived in this area my whole life, and it’s nice to be part of something that’s setting the table for sustainable development, and that’s aligned with our principles and goals. 

Net zero is a newer concept in this part of the country, but we at C&C Group want it to be top of mind. We intentionally initiate that conversation with customers because net-zero goals are opportunities to protect the investment they made – to protect the people and the systems.

Besides net zero, what were Aspiria’s other goals?

They wanted the campus’ energy consumption to be as efficient as possible, keep energy costs low, make the buildings more comfortable to work, live and play in, and maximize the impact of their small maintenance staff.   

How does the EcoStruxure platform optimize staff effectiveness?

Aspiria has a small staff, and labor shortages got really bad during the pandemic. Besides Building Operation, which, as I mentioned, does the work of multiple people, we’d been talking with Aspiria about implementing EcoStruxure Building Advisor to track the massive volume of data.

EcoStruxure Building Advisor integrates with EcoStruxure Building Operation. Using EcoStruxure Building Advisor, we can collect about 5,000 points of building information to measure critical things like HVAC energy use, identify wasted energy, and predict failures. The Connected Services Hub team works with Aspiria remotely to uncover issues and solutions. Aspiria has a 3D campus model that finds real-time energy issues before they become big problems.

Finding employees is still a struggle today, so implementing Building Advisor was definitely the right decision.  

What other technologies are critical to Aspiria achieving net zero?

One of Aspiria’s biggest concerns was maintaining power quality and predicting power failure. They want to keep customers happy!

To address that, we implemented EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert, Schneider Electric’s energy monitoring software. Now they can see issues ahead of time. That’s huge. The data gathering, intelligence, and automation helps us and their team stay on top of everything.

Let’s talk about results. What does Aspiria’s net-zero achievement look like, specifically?
They’ve displaced millions of gallons of gasoline and reduced annual energy consumption by 16%.

How about cost savings?

In terms of hard dollars, they’ve saved about $1.5 million in annual energy cost savings. It’s impressive.

Energy savings led to significant labor savings, too. Because there are so many fewer unplanned maintenance issues, Aspiria doesn’t need to outsource preventive maintenance work. Plus, the need to outsource labor for mechanical systems was significantly reduced. As a result of these improvements, Aspiria, in the last three years, has saved more than $700,000 in labor costs.

It took a lot of partnership and collaboration to make this project such a success.  

The EcoStruxure architecture gives us the chance to be backwards compatible and future-adaptable. That’s what we were able to do for Aspiria. And we continue to make sure they’re ready for the future. Schneider Electric has been a partner with us every step of the way.

Learn more about Aspiria’s campus of the future and the partnership with C&C Group and Schneider Electric.

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