Hanover Page Mill building Peter Rumsey

Peter Rumsey Teaches Clients How to Take Risks

Peter Rumsey, one of the first green building engineers to design net zero buildings in the US, has a long history of championing energy efficiency combined with technologies such as radiant  heating and cooling systems and chilled beams.  He has led many of the world’s notable firsts in green design, including the first net zero commercial office building, the first net zero laboratory and largest net zero museum.  He is now designing two of the world’s largest net zero office buildings.

An Education on How to Take Risks

With a mission to save unprecedented amounts of energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Peter is known for inspiring building owners to stretch to higher goals than they thought possible.

“Peter encouraged us to take on unreasonable design goals. He pushed us to adopt cutting edge technologies and strategies in our buildings and then stayed with the project until we delivered success,” explained Rohan Parikh, who worked as head of Infrastructure and green initiatives at Infosys, a very large software company in Hyderabad, India.

After Peter led an initial project that reduced energy use by 40% through designing for 100% natural light during the day and installing radiant cooling, the software giant began installing radiant cooling in all their projects. “Peter completely changed our design process,” Rohan explained.

The impact of a more efficient system in this case is vast. “Over the last seven years Infosys has built over 5 million square feet of high performance LEED platinum buildings, reduced the per capita electricity consumption by almost 50% and saved over $100 million in “negawatts,” and Peter has his signature over all these achievements,” said Rohan.

Hanover Page Mill building live camera

Hanover Page Mill building. Image via live construction camera.

High Performance Results – Even on a Tight Budget

Peter’s newest venture, Point Energy Innovations, quickly becoming known as the greatest small firm out there, takes a little different approach than a typical engineering firm. Peter calls this approach  “leveraged design.”

To be clear about what that means for clients, Peter explains, “We don’t do drawings. What we do is work with the design team to elevate goals and achievements in the design.  That’s our strength. People bring us in when they are ambitious, even on a budget, and when they want to see us influence, push, inspire and assist their design team to bring the highest performance results possible within the budget,” Peter says.

In addition to founding Point Energy Innovations, Peter is the co-founder of a startup company that will manufacture and distribute the Personal Comfort System Chair, a heated and cooled smart chair. Watch out for more information on this product soon.

Net Zero Energy for Risk Averse

Celebrating its first birthday in June, Point Energy Innovations has taken on the challenge of bringing net zero energy to developer-led office spaces, many of them in Silicon Valley, a place where developers are generally risk averse.

One such project, the Hanover Page Mill building in the heart of Silicon Valley, was completed at the cost of a standard office building with standard lease rates to tenants. Yet the developer found an innovative way, through capitalizing on his PV system, to make developing a net zero energy building profitable. “We have to make it both affordable and profitable for developers to build to net zero,” Peter said.

Peter teaches sustainable design at Stanford and, along with James Gaither, the developer of the Page Mill building, he recently took his students on a tour of the Page Mill building, with the hope that showing them real life examples of successful net zero energy projects will inspire them to build even better buildings as the join their profession.

Peter’s desire to share his knowledge, not only with his Stanford students, but his staff, and clients alike, sets him apart.

“Peter is a teacher,” Rohan. “He has taught me how to take risks. He imparts knowledge and leaves you richer after every interaction with him.“

See Peter’s blog post on Hacking the Design Process, Tips for Teamwork on Net Zero Buildings

About The Author

PowerHouse Growers
PowerHouse Growers teaches you how to sustainably integrate urban agriculture into your cities, businesses, and homes. We provide clear solutions and benefits for better health, increased productivity, and lower environmental impact. By connecting you with experts, we bring awareness to solutions that may not be top of mind.