An interview with Gary Schlotzhauer and Danny Davies: Aspiria Campus

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Editor’s note: Aspiria collaborated with C&C Group to enhance their facility using Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™ solutions, including EcoStruxure Building Advisor services, EcoStruxure Power Operation, and EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert. This integration reduced costs, optimized energy use and sustainability, and helped Aspiria achieve significant ROI.

The following is a conversation with Danny Davies, president and CEO of C&C Group and master-level EcoXpert™, and Gary Schlotzhauer, Campus Director of Engineering at Aspiria. They discuss the challenges and lessons learned from the EcoStruxure solutions implemented at the Aspiria, a 20-building, four-million-square-foot mixed-use corporate campus spanning 200 acres, how its success will influence future projects, the impacts on campus occupants, and what it means for decarbonization and sustainability in the future.

Solving performance and sustainability challenges at a four million square foot mixed-use campus: The project experts share their insights

Two men, one in a blue button down shirt and one in a lime green polo shirt,  walk through a building on the Aspiria business campus
EcoXpert Danny Davies and Gary Schlotzhauer, the Campus Director of Engineering at Aspiria, walk through one of the buildings on the 200-acre corporate business campus in Overland Park, Kansas.

Q. What was the impact of deploying a Building Management solution? Were there any surprising findings?

Gary: There was an immediate impact. In the first year, we cut our energy usage from an annual average of 100 million kilowatt-hours to 74 million. We achieved this by implementing the technologies from Schneider Electric and by making other operational adjustments and equipment upgrades.

Around the same time, we started a collaboration with our local utility company, where we functioned as both a producer and consumer of electricity. Our wind farm in southern Kansas generates approximately 94 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. Since our consumption is now about 74 million kilowatt-hours, we effectively achieved a net-zero energy status in year one.

Q. How has the building management system impacted Aspiria’s various stakeholders – staff, management, or visitors?

Gary: Our tenants have reported higher satisfaction and increased comfort, which is something, considering the common misconception that net-zero buildings require compromises, like wearing heavy sweaters in winter or just T-shirts in summer. The reality is we’ve maintained excellent indoor air quality.

Another interesting result is that our commitment to sustainability has helped attract new tenants and retain existing ones; it’s now an attractive feature of our properties. So, it builds tenant loyalty, contributes to energy savings, and reduces energy expenses.

For example, we had only six temperature complaints for the entire month of March last year. For a campus of our size – millions of square feet and acres of commercial real estate – that’s impressive, and mostly thanks to EcoStruxure Building Advisor data analytics. We can flag potential issues early on, like a damper not fully closing or a valve not shutting off properly. We can catch these things before our tenants even notice something’s up. Our second shift team is great—they know exactly where to go and what to fix when they arrive at the problem spot. They tackle these issues promptly, which keeps our tenants happy.

Also, when it comes to leasing, we’ve been incredibly fortunate. Our properties are all Class A office spaces, and over the past year, we’ve leased out over 500,000 square feet. Now, that might sound small in bigger markets like on the coasts, but here in Kansas City? It’s about four times what our competitors manage. It’s clear our actions are making a big difference.

Q. What specific impact and outcomes have resulted from the energy-saving measures and operational efficiencies you implemented at Aspiria?

Gary: The numbers are seriously impressive. Cutting energy use by 16%, slashing our carbon footprint by 36%, and saving $1.5 million in energy costs, plus another $700,000 in labor? It’s an amazing achievement. My team gets along great with Danny and his team at C&C Group, and I always want to keep that conversation going. Our campus is huge, and staying on top of everything is crucial. The EcoStruxure platform and operational strategies we’ve taken from its data allow us to stay one step ahead.

Danny: It’s amazing. Aspiria is not only one of the largest office complexes in North America, but I’d bet it’s also among the most efficient—not just in energy savings but in how it’s run.

Q. Gary, what are your sustainability targets for the campus?

Gary: When we purchased the campus, it was a clean slate; there wasn’t much done about sustainability, so the window was wide open for us to do anything and everything we could.

And even though net zero is always the target, we didn’t have any pre-set goals for meeting specific dates or benchmarks. We took a very different approach: “to do the right thing right now.” Fortunately, we work for an owner who is in lockstep with everything that we think needs to be done.

It doesn’t get talked about much, but there is an element of courage in saying, “We’re going out and doing this.”

Q. Danny, what role did tenants play when setting sustainability goals?

Danny: I don’t remember who said it – it certainly wasn’t me – but if you want to manage something, first you must measure it. That is one of the initial conversations we have with our customers after discovering their sustainability goals: are you measuring? If so, are you measuring power? Are you measuring energy consumption outside of your utility bills? If not, that’s one of our first big opportunities to reduce consumption.

That is why we signed up to be a partner in the EcoXpert Digital Power Partner Channel certification because it’s an opportunity to grow and diversify our business. There are so many new power monitoring and control opportunities as our customers focused more on digitizing their operations.

Q. What advice do you have for other organizations considering implementing EcoStruxure solutions on a similar scale?

Danny: A few ideas come to mind. First, get all stakeholders in the room together at one time. Continue to touch that group with results and approvals through every project stage. For us, one of those stakeholders is Schneider Electric, so we engage their system architect experts to ensure our builds and processes make sense at scale.

The second piece of advice is to remember to measure your power. It’s so important to measure throughout your network. The EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert piece was an absolute asset continuing to grow for us. We recognized the significance of this right away, which is why we’re now working to become EcoXpert-certified in the Digital Power Partner Channel badge.

Gary: I remind people to “do the right thing right now.” It’s important to have a proactive, forward-thinking approach when taking on projects of this size. Prioritize action over delay, but make sure every decision is a step towards sustainability goals. It also creates a culture of accountability among all your stakeholders.

Q: Any final thoughts?

Gary: Another important point to make is the human element. EcoStruxure technology is empowering with its data analytics and real-time energy access. Still, it’s also about how Danny’s team at C&C Group gets the big picture of what Aspiria wants to achieve and then tailors the tech to fit into our day-to-day operations. That’s a big part of pushing us towards our net-zero goal. We’ve got the right combination of tech and a team that’s all in. This partnership—melding the tech with the people and the right mindset—is crucial.

Danny: I really want to emphasize the transformative impact of forward-thinking partnerships like the one we have with Aspiria. Together we were able to optimize operational efficiencies of this large campus and set a path to ongoing sustainability achievements as well. It shows the importance of being strategically aligned when you have ambitious goals and the power that integrated power and building management systems can have in driving real change. For C&C Group, our focus will be on continuing to innovate and leverage this technology to meet the needs of Aspiria.

EcoXperts are the enablers of net-zero buildings

The EcoXpert Partner Program is unique in its industry and comprises a best-in-class, global ecosystem of expertise. Trained and certified by Schneider Electric, EcoXpert partners digitize and electrify our world for a more sustainable future.

The path to net zero is about delivering solutions for sustainable, resilient, efficient, and people-centric buildings. For our EcoXpert partners, this unveils immense growth opportunities through the transition to end-to-end portfolio sales that will resolve our customers’ most critical needs. For our shared customers, this means that together with our EcoXpert partners, we will drive the building industry transformation and help our customers survive and thrive today – and tomorrow.

Discover more about Master EcoXpert partner C&C Group and how they helped shape Aspiria’s campus of the future.

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