Bring cities to energy independence through carbon, energy and cost neutrality.
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The livability in many cities is decreasing as a result of (air) pollution. At the same time these cities are being challenged to compete in an increasingly competitive economic environment. Decreasing livability conditions make economic unattractive cities. Our proposal addresses both issues in an integrated solution to make cities more competitive and thus more resilient.
We address the following:
- accelerating energy transition from fossil to renewable resources and making clean and cheap energy accessible for the masses;
- transferring ownership of energy sources to the customers as opposed to the energy suppliers;
- providing insight to customers on their roadmap to energy independence and giving them control on how fast they want to reach that goal.
Our plan: bring entire cities to energy independence with their Path to Zero. We do this on three levels: carbon neutrality, energy neutrality and energy cost neutrality.
It is important to underline that we focus on transforming existing buildings and neighborhoods to green buildings, neighborhoods and cities.
The Path To Zero (PTZ) is the product that will be used to transform individual buildings and households, neighborhoods, communities and eventually cities in becoming energy independent. This method is already being applied to existing commercial buildings and will now be scaled and adapted to meet the challenge of implementation at a neighborhood.
Independence from fossil fuel based economics creates opportunities for cities to transform: increase the livability and thereby the willingness of people to live and work in that city, create jobs in new sectors, save money over the whole board that can be re-invested in other things, and give new impulses in the economy.
Category of the action
Mitigation/Adaptation, Changing public attitudes about climate change
What actions do you propose?
We will start with selected neighborhoods cities such as Rotterdam and The Hague in The Netherlands.
The approach of Path To Zero at an urban level focuses on changing behaviors of people. We invite people to participate in the program that does not cost them anything. They shift from their current supplier to us and from that moment we provide them cheaper green energy. They however keep on paying the same prize they were paying to their former energy provider. So the first step does not come with a price saving to a home owner. We however use the price difference to save, produce and participate in green energy. In the course of time the costs will dramatically decrease for a house owner/tenant.
Cities all over the world have been taking diverse measures in order to increase the livability by decreasing the emission of greenhouse gases. After studying more than 20 cities all over the world, we found to our amazement that not much is being done to changing behaviors of people inhabiting the cities. Cities are people. If cities are polluted, than it is because people are doing so and if a shift is to be made than it will have to be done at the very fundamental level of changing the behavior of people. Urban resilience is thereby people’s resilience to adopt and adapt to other lifestyles. We would like to underline that we are not forcing anyone to give up their current lifestyles. Small steps in the right direction can go a long way. Moving towards non-fossil energy supply, better insulation of houses and small scale energy production are examples of such small steps. We provide an option in which these steps don’t have to cost people extra money. Besides this we provide people an option to be part of a virtual community where they can see how they are saving energy, reducing CO2 emissions and how they are doing in respect to their neighbors and other neighborhoods in the city or even other cities. Adapting to new situations in our approach entails rewarding energy saving behavior but not punishing energy wasting behavior. For this we work with city administrations and other stakeholders in the urban management realm so that our efforts are amplified.
The tested and proven technology for commercial buildings comprises of a comprehensive energy audit which details the roadmap to achieving energy savings in the first 4 years. The customer has a personal Path To Zero profile page where the monthly Energy Budget is defined and this results in the time frame within which the Path To Zero is achieved. After that a series of measures are taken in the building to reduce the consumption of energy. The all-in package includes the supply of electricity and gas (decreasing amount every year) and implementation of all monitoring a energy saving solutions (ex. lighting, heating, insulation etc.) that customers will need to lower their annual energy consumption. Included in the Path To Zero is also the implementation, maintenance, insurance and guarantees, project management/administrative services.
For most suppliers it is quite a challenge to transform existing commercial buildings to become energy neutral. The challenge to transform a city is immensely larger. There are various kinds of buildings, owners, stakeholders, and interests. It requires a different strategy and communication skills to get everyone involved. However, with their unique approach, involving communities, local entrepreneurs and supported by their state of art automated back office BAS and Concire are confident they will succeed in bringing cities all the way to €0 energy bills.
We will start at an intermediate scale of a neighbourhood of approximately 2.500 buildings - predominantly residential. Three neighbourhoods will be selected in Rotterdam and The Hague as both cities have congruent ambitions as our own.
In order to increase the level of participation in the Path To Zero program, we will minimize the financial barrier to zero. Therefore, no stakeholder will be asked to invest extra into the existing buildings. Together with the stakeholders we will reshuffle the various cash flows in the neighbourhood to serve the greater purpose of the Path To Zero. Our product is simple, integrated and interactive so that we can scale up the proposition with minimal effort and give full control to the user through online interfaces. The tool kit can be divided into the following components:
1) An online web portal/dashboard
We will perform a comprehensive Energy Audit which details the roadmap to achieving energy savings over the next 4 years for the entire neighbourhood. We will provide our customers with access to an online dashboard which will empower them with the following:
a) Their own Path To Zero (PTZ) profile page so that they are able to see their Path To Zero roadmap and get a detailed overview of the energy saving solutions. Our back office will be fully automated so that the entire back-end workflow/processes is integrated into the product. In other words, we will know exactly when, where and what to install in the building at any given time as highlighted in the Path To Zero roadmap.
b) Various educational and community driven information facts so that the customers better understand the energy saving solutions that are implemented (e.g. renewables, etc.) and the impact this has (e.g. CO2 saved). The concept behind this data is to make the information pertinent, educational and relevant.
c) Social media feeds (e.g. twitter feeds) to keep our customers up to date with energy news and information and more importantly share their experiences with others in their community.
d) An overview of electricity usage in different residential complexes within the neighbourhood which will give our customers a better understanding of where they stand compared to their neighbours and create healthy and friendly competition, strengthened by gamification elements in the tools available to the users.
With this platform we will create an automated platform which will work in the energy industry in the same way as Uber is to taxis and AirBnb to hotels. We, like Uber and AirBnb, provide to the world a platform for fundamental change of an entire industry. A need of which we are all subconsciously aware, even though we have not conceived easy and seamless solutions to this problem as individuals yet.
What BAS will do is connect individuals, SME’s and energy companies all over the world, with a solution to their basic energy needs that is personally tailored to fit, creates optimal value, is sustainable in the true sense of the word and serves every user, community and the environment as it should, making the way to a new economy based on abundance. BAS will then naturally make the old scarcity-based system of energy supply from fossil resources obsolete.
The only thing BAS really adds value with is (the development of) an automated platform that seamlessly matches supply and demand for all who seek energy independence. If we would leave our energy supply to an energy supplier, leave solar panels to their manufacturers, leave light bulbs to vendors of light bulbs, and fully focus our energies on producing the platform that enables people to match their demand with other people's supply we could grow indefinitely with a rather small organization. Internationalization would be no issue whatsoever, since every app in the apple app store is available in many countries. We would still make more money as our customers consume less, but would leave the greatest part of marginality to the vendors of solutions. We would develop an international platform that accelerates the energy transition. We would develop a community that helps themselves increase the quality of the Path to Zero through helping each other with administrative and operational issues. We would provide suppliers with a platform where they will automatically sell their component to the PTZ once they have been calculated to be the best match for every individual customer, based on a solutions parameter database that we develop and maintain.
2) The monthly invoice for our customers
Our customers will receive a monthly energy bill showing their agreed upon energy budget, deducting savings on electricity and gas consumption amounts. The balance is used for the energy saving solutions that were identified during the energy audit. Over time, the energy budget stays the same, the electricity and gas consumption decreases and the balance, which is used for the Path To Zero, increases. Simply put: the money saved on reducing fossil fuel consumption is directly invested into the best next investment in energy independence.
Our Dutch customers can be sourcing their energy through Nuon or Delta, but their bills will be sent through BAS. Their light bulbs will come from Philips or Osram or whoever, but their bills are sent through BAS. Their installation services may be provided by Unica or Cofely, or their own local installer, and all is billed through BAS as part of their integral Energy Budget that is precisely managed by our software platform and always accessible on any device by our customers. Their Energy Budget will consist of the same three parts as they see right now: energy supply, dependence reduction and services. The first will be not-for-profit and will be tendered periodically among all suppliers that agree to our terms and conditions: BAS calculates the required volumes per customer, BAS gains access to all energy data required to calculate the PTZ properly, BAS bills the customer and transfers the payments to the vendors etc. The second will be for–profit through a commission on every sale. Just like the App Store any vendor will pay a percentage of his earnings to BAS. The third will remain for BAS. Just like Spotify we can easily charge an amount per month per user to manage their PTZ for as long as they want.
3) A multi-lingual interactive mobile App
We are in the design phase of developing our innovative and interactive multi-lingual mobile app that will further empower our customers to gain insight, control and intelligence over their energy consumption and savings. This fully integrated Path To Zero app will streamline the entire front-end and back-end processes from Sourcing to Procurement to the Path To Zero Contract to the Operational Workflow to the Invoicing/Billing. This will enable the automation and integration of all of our systems and enable gamification, social media/sharing and concrete reporting – integrated, dynamic and real time information for all of our clients.
Our toolkit with The Path To Zero is unique and innovative. There is nobody offering such an ambitious, comprehensive and broad package. So, in that sense we are on a blue ocean strategy. There are, however companies who are offering part of the package that we also offer. These companies are normally the traditional energy companies who offer a standard savings package that comprises of LED lighting solutions and an interface to monitor the energy consumption. They might offer gadgets that will allow the customer to switch on lights and/or heating in the house from a distance using internet. None of these products and services however bring the customer on a Path To Zero. There is a very simple reason for that: it is not in the interest of the traditional energy companies to do so. Their business model is based on supplying energy and profiting on it.
Our goal is to make our customers independent of the energy supply, especially from fossil sources. Ultimately this independence will lead to them not paying for their energy at all. So, when it comes to cost savings, our goals are aligned to those of our clients.
There are of course neighbourhoods that have done a great job in becoming carbon neutral and even energy neutral. These neighbourhoods have however been designed and built in that way. We are however targeting existing neighbourhoods.
Who will take these actions?
BAS will be entering into a strategic partnership with Concire. Concire is specialized in developing and implementing urban strategies. Together we will be working on the scaling up the current methodology and making it suitable for adoption at a city wide level.
BAS Franchise Partners: dedicated franchisees that follow the BAS sales methodology and are an extension of the BAS brand. We provide them with all of the tools, sales support and marketing collateral they need to sell the Path To Zero to our target market across the Netherlands.
BAS Ambassadors: independent entrepreneurs in the energy sector who are actively selling the Path To Zero as part of their existing product portfolio. They focus on the businesses and entrepreneurs in the communities.
When one embarks on a Path To Zero for an entire city, it is important to realize that this tremendous challenge cannot be realized without the participation of many key stakeholders. We will be closely involving the city administration and bureaucrats. In especially the Dutch situation, we will be involving the housing corporations as they own sometimes 50% of the total houses, especially in the social housing.
We will involve the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT) to support, monitor and advise as from an academic point of view. We will start pilots in three neighborhoods with complete different profiles and DRIFT will also help us look at the progress being made in these neighborhoods. A close monitoring of the progress and sometimes the lack of it will help us in modifying and adapting our approach and ultimately our entire toolkit.
We will also seek collaborations with existing energy cooperatives, if they exist in the neighborhoods where we will start our pilot.
Where will these actions be taken?
A Chinese saying goes: every long journey starts with a single step. Our ambition is to change the world and make it carbon neutral, energy neutral and cost neutral to produce energy. We will start that challenge by achieving that ambition in a few existing neighborhoods in the The Hague and Rotterdam. This metropolitan area in The Netherlands comprises of about 2.2 million people. The Netherlands, in general has proven to be a great testing market for all kinds of products. Both the cities of Rotterdam and The Hague have indicated to bring their cities to carbon neutrality by 2040. The city of Rotterdam has also indicated that they want the city to be the lab of The Netherlands, where there is space to prototype new ideas and initiatives. The political climate and tenure together with the long term policy is in our favor.
The profile of the people living in the selected existing neighborhoods varies from low income households, often combined with lower education to mid income households and fairly well educated home owners and small and medium enterprises. Nobody has an active need of carbon reduction, but everyone is eager to know how they can save on their energy bills. Our challenge is to help them save money and at the same time reduce their carbon footprint and engage them passively and actively if they want. The important part is not to patronize them into the transition but to make it fun and educational and let them decide the speed towards their Path To Zero.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
If the Path To Zero would be implemented on a large scale - and at some point it inevitably will be, due to either geopolitics, depletion of resources or cultural change - the effect would be tremendous. If all residential, public and commercial buildings in Rotterdam would engage on the PTZ -250.000 buildings-, the total investment in energy savings and production solutions on behalf of the users will amount to € 580 million in 4 years, resulting in a structural annual saving of € 250 million, with 525 million kWh and 250 million m3 gas structurally saved (850 million tons of CO2 saved). For the Netherlands, 7,5 million buildings will result in an investment of 17,4 billion in energy savings and renewable production in 4 years, with a structural annual saving of € 7,5 billion, resulting in a saving of 15,5% on all electricity consumed in NL, and around 18% of all natural gas (saving 25 billion tons of CO2).
What are other key benefits?
Our product targets the existing environment. We are offering solutions to existing buildings and therefore impacting the existing environment. This in itself is unique and of an enormous magnitude. This product is available to everyone. It has B2B, B2C and a P2P elements; all integrated into the user interface and the back office. Once the customer says “yes” to begin their Path To Zero, everything is handled by the back office. So in other words, the customer no longer needs to make 150 decisions to implement his energy saving and generation solutions - he only needs to make one: choose the Path To Zero. Most importantly, the customer does not have to make any upfront investment. The process finances itself.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Our current product and interactive app for the commercial buildings needs to be further developed and adapted to a B2C environment. This also includes various modules like serious gaming, multi-lingual use and education. We will also need to build a well-integrated interface to connect the front and the back office. The total development time with full dedication will require at least a year. The investment breakdown is as follows:
3 FTE's from BAS and Concire: € 150.000,-
Hiring various experts in specialized areas € 100.000,-
Toolkit development (e.g. online portal, mobile app) € 450.000,-
IT integration € 150.000,-
Marketing campaigns € 75.000,-
Total € 925.000,-
Given the level of domain expertise, product development and IT resources we would require, including all of the testing and piloting time, we expect to Go Live by Q2 2015.
Adaptation to climate change
Shifting behaviour for a changing climate
How can we empower the public and communities to build awareness and demand for green buildings?