Helping to evolve the building industry into a smarter green building space, a high-performance green building space – with net-zero energy buildings, that are great places to live, work and play.


Melissa O’Mara
VP of Green Building Solutions, Education and Government Solutions

Schneider Electric



  • My title is a little bit lengthy and people complain about it!
  • I enjoy the all the little and big parts of my job, and what I’m really up to at Schneider and how it relates to smart cities, is that from a green buildings perspective I look at how Schneider’s solutions in the area of building management, security, power management, lighting, and with our partnerships with others - how we can really help to evolve the building industry into a smarter green building space, or a high-performance green building, which is I think where we need to get to.
  • We are able to deliver today net-zero buildings, positive-energy buildings - buildings that actually generate as much energy over the course of the year as they consume…. It’s super cool stuff, one of my favorite topics – how do you get to those buildings, or close?


From Smart Buildings to Eco-Districts...

  • Interestingly enough, when you go beyond the building, when you go into maybe an eco-district or a smart city, then you can begin to talk about net-zero eco-districts or smart communities; I think that is even more viable over time. [Sue:] There are more opportunities for exchanges… my waste becomes your energy source, or material input [Melissa:] Exactly. More symbiotic relationships. There is more of that in Europe, and in little niches. But it’s fascinating – great stuff. I am very interested in how do we bring more of that?
  • There are not enough of them, to scale, so that this becomes business as usual. We know we can build net-zero buildings today. I believe we can create examples of eco-districts, residential or commercial ---but they are fewer and far-er between. We need to take those best practices, and find a way to change business as usual, so this becomes a new better way to build buildings, manage buildings and to manage cities.


Smart Buildings - Basics and Beyond...

  • IDC has published a smart building maturity model recently…. Its’ one tool to help an average building manager to say “where am I?”   In a very smart building you’re not going to just be addressing the basics like HVAC and lighting---- but plug levels and user behavior…. If you’re a building manager and you are not thinking in those terms… this [tool] shows a possible path of what needs to be changed next.
  • [Sue:] In some ways smart buildings become a lens into really understanding what a building is for… what do people need to be supported in living their lives?   [Melissa:] And that is the purpose of this structure… to make it a great place to live, work and play – a safe place, a productive place.
  • You need to be able to meet the needs of those constituents all of the time,  especially in a hospital, it’s 24x7, we need to make sure the power is always on, it’s always safe, it’s always reliable.  Big tall order…


Progressive Role of Government and Univ...

  • What’s exciting about the two industry verticals I’m most focused on is that they happen to be the most progressive in terms of sustainability and high-performance requirements.
  • So for example it’s great to work with, let’s say, the GSA (Government Services Administration) who is moving down this path of deep-energy retrofits for their existing office buildings – very important, right?…. The DoD has a lot of net-zero initiatives – net-zero energy, net-zero water, net-zero carbon. If we can do it there, we should be able to do it in a city, or in part of a city, or certainly on a higher-ed campus. It’s an example of government as innovator – walking the talk, doing what’s possible.
  • Universities are able to attract students that are interested in sustainability, in terms of getting it into their curriculum and their DNA as young professionals… But also they expect the universities walking the talk and not just teaching it… Stretching themselves, stretching their students, and using their facilities and everything around campus as a living lab.


Smart Building Resiliency and Flexibility...

  • I think the other thing that’s coming is resilient buildings and resilient cities.   [Sue:] Which will require understanding buildings in a layered kind of way -- what are the mission-critical functions of a building that need to be protected, what are the less important functions, what are the levels in between? [Melissa:] and what will make that building perform well today, and what will it need to perform well in 20 or 30 years.  Are we building for the future?
  • [Flexibility is key. We need to make] sure we build it with an open IT architecture, so we can accommodate new uses of the building over time, new technologies, new innovation that comes into the marketplace over time.


See Melissa’s posts at



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  Cool Block Platform Director

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