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Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Tuesday
May152007

Spending and Spending Some More

No, its not a quote from The Merry Wives of Windsor. 

Last weekend’s Wall Street Journal (May 12, 2007) had a special report on the retirement of the baby boom. It was titled “Spending and Spending Some More”. To me, at the tail end of the boom, this is the conundrum of my immediate seniors. Think Globally, Act Locally! Save the Planet! Live Simply so that Others may Simply Live! And now, “Zero Carbon” bumper-stickers on the backs of the SUVs.

This cohort has always had plenty of good intentions, and is not afraid to share them with everyone. They just want to do it comfortably. Give me a hair shirt, as long as it is Angora.

The challenge is how to meet these lofty goals while living up the expectations. Don’t interfere with my Autonomy! Do not deny me any amenity? Let me cast my actions so that they live up to my self-image! Accomplishing all these goals at the same time can be difficult.

My perception of this has been intensified by college visits. Next year, I will have three kids in College, at Case Western Reserve, at Chicago, and at New York University. I am as sensitive as anyone to the recent run-up of college prices. A lot of it is un-necessary to education. To compete, each college needs to offer better food, better dorms, more high tech than ever before. But not to satisfy the kids.

As you can imagine, I have taken a lot of college trips in the last five years. I have heard the talks, seen the student tour guides, grown to hate those who waste everyone’s time asking questions from page two of the catalogue. But what has always surprised me is hearing the parents bid up their own expenses. “I don’t think you’d like the food” they say to junior chowing down happily on cafeteria pizza. “The school you were at last week had better closets” they say to their daughter who is trying to meet a professor in her major. It is the parents who drive up the demand for amenities they will have to pay for.

And these parents will be retiring. They will have lots of money, but little interest in efficiency, and engineered solutions, and all the topics of the Power and Facilities world. In retirement, their social agenda will expand while their attention to detail will lessen.

And they will want Green Power. And they will want to know how green it is, and get gold stars for it. And they will want zero carbon, although they can’t quite remember what organic chemistry is. They will shun the responsibility of knowing the details. And they will not want their comfort interfered with.

They will be the biggest market for new energy models. The challenge is, can we engage them?

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