Updated: Apr 27
We are launching a new series of interviews with some of the experts who work at Clevernet. Martin Orr kindly volunteered to be our first colleague to step up to the plate.
Martin is a Building Performance Manager with Clevernet, joining our ranks in October 2022. Prior to joining Clevernet, Martin also spent over 3 years with ESB in Ireland, working in their energy management team. Thank you for taking the time away from your busy day job to share your experiences and insight!
Tell us about your career
While completing my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering in Galway I was fortunate enough to join a large utility company on my 3rd-year work placement. At the time I wasn’t sure of the area of mechanical engineering that I wanted to specialize in. During this placement, I co-ordinated the company’s internal energy audits which was my first foray into the world of energy management and I’ve been hooked ever since. After completing that project I joined the newly-formed customer-facing energy management services team where I first learned about Building Automation and how you can control the plant in buildings to make sure that it’s comfortable for the occupants and limit the amount of energy used in doing so. I returned to 4th-year university and for my thesis I conducted a study on Energy Performance Indicators (EnPIs, Think KPI but for energy) supermarkets. My initial plan was to move to San Francisco the same year I finished college and I returned to the same role in energy management services team for a 5-month stint which was helpful in raising funds and getting experience in the sector.
I co-ordinated the company’s internal energy audits which was my first foray into the world of energy management and I’ve been hooked ever since
I had the time of my life in America with a group of friends and was lucky enough to secure a job related to my studies, as an estimator with a construction company, Mitchell Engineering. I had a great time working here as I learned about construction work and the importance of accuracy in pricing work, getting reliable quotes and the associated commercials that are important to a company’s success.
I was offered a green card sponsorship to stay with this company but seeing as 12 of the 13 people I was with were moving home; and San Francisco, while amazing, wasn't for me; and a green card sponsorship would take 4 years I decided I wanted to return to my career in energy management elsewhere, so I also decided to move home.
I got great experience in the energy management industry...assessing where money could be invested to upgrade their plant and improve the output/kWh
When I returned to Ireland my estimating experience came in handy as I joined Crowley Carbon as a cost control engineer where I got great experience in the energy management industry once again this time with industrial companies assessing where money could be invested to upgrade their plant and improve the output/kWh. There was limited cost control work to be done here however but this was fortunate as I acquired solar feasibility and some CAD drawing experience.
After 5 months here I was made redundant but this was quite fortunate as I had just enrolled in a masters in data analytics in National College of Ireland (NCI) and travelling from Enniskerry back into the centre of Dublin for the course twice a week would have been taxing. What was also fortunate was that a position had just opened up in the energy management team where I had previously done two internships and the office was a ten minute cycle to NCI.
In my 3 years in the energy management team I had some interesting roles including being the energy management partner for an international airport, technical support for the energy monitoring and targeting platform where I scoped and co-ordinated tenders for energy sub-metering projects. I reached the position where I was leading the energy credits team where I measured and verified energy savings projects and negotiated energy savings agreements to buy credits to help the company make their energy credits targets.
As this team was more focused on delivering capital projects and I was keen to get some more experience in building automation this led me to apply to a vacant position as building performance manager with Clevernet in September 2022. Since being hired I have been providing insights and delivering energy savings through energy audits and data analysis ever since.
What does a typical day working for Clevernet look like?
I wake up around 8, get ready and try to get outside for a walk/run/cycle and practice some Portuguese on Babbel app before I get to my sit/stand desk at 9.
My first task is to check our ECCO console to make sure that the data for the buildings that I look after is displaying as expected. If there’s been an increase in energy on the site, I'll check our ECCO sensor data to identify if it’s related to heating or cooling and to identify where the extra energy is being consumed. Then I’ll remotely access that building's BMS and have a look to see if there are any settings or sensor changes. This is usually followed by a phone call to the maintenance team on-site to discuss what I’ve found and if they have further information. At this point, I want to thank all of the maintenance people that I work with as they are instrumental to achieving energy savings both through their knowledge of the buildings and being the people who often can make the physical changes on site that drive energy efficiency. If possible I come up with Corrective and Preventative Action (CAPA, shoutout ISO 50001) to reduce the energy consumption and keep it reduced.
After my building performance checks it’s usually time for a tea/coffee/Yerba- mate around 10 am. Then I’ll get working on something from my long list of tasks. Typically an action from a previous performance meeting (resolve a query that a customer has, further implement an energy conservation measure or revisit a CAPA that hasn’t worked) or I’ll be writing up a report from an energy audit. In between these tasks at around 1 pm I’ll cook some lunch and sit down to eat it ideally with my partner, Michele, or a friend and then get out for a short walk or a chat with them.
After that, it’s back to work either preparing for a building performance meeting or hosting one. These meetings are for updating the relevant stakeholders about the performance of the building for the last month and to discuss the energy conservation measures that we’re trying to implement and the blockers that we need the customers' help in navigating.
Describe what you are currently working on
Currently, I’m trying to make a flowchart for our energy audit process that ensures that a new staff member has a process to follow and understands the key pieces of information needed to furnish an informative report.
The Common Obstacles you have helped Customers Overcome
In one building I was able to reduce the energy spend by around 11,000kWh per week which made a huge impact to their bill.
One common obstacle that I made a big impact on is managing energy for a vacant space by making changes to the Building Management System (BMS). In one building I was able to reduce the energy spend by around 11,000kWh per week which made a huge impact on their bill as the space was expected to be vacant for a further 4 months. Another obstacle is to help raise the comfort levels in a building that was struggling to reach temperature. I did this by carefully analyzing what the plant was currently doing and making changes to BMS set points that allowed the plant to deliver conditioned air that would meet the comfort needs of the occupants.
Most Important Tech Innovation?
I think generative AI ( e.g. deep fake, image generators and ChatGPT) is at an inflection point and we’re going to see a rapid change in the way humans do things both in their jobs and education. However, it’s not without its downsides as outputs are only based on input data which is often rife with bias.
What's your Podcast tip for our Readers?
I’m a self-proclaimed “hound for information” so I would say it’s the David McWilliams podcast mostly because many of the guests are fantastic. They give information on current events around the world close to the source. His partnership and shared sense of humour with his friend John “head” is enjoyable to listen to and I think they do a great job of making economics relatable, real and fun. Honourable mentions are ESPN 30for30, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History and the Blindboy podcast.
Thank you very much to Martin for taking the time to share more about his background, what his passions are and bringing his personality to the company. He is a popular and hard-working member of the team and if you sign up for ECCO from Clevernet, Martin could be your Building Performance Manager too!
All images are either our own photos, or from free image banks. No ChatGPT was used to write this blog, although Martin does reference it.
I also agree with your excellent choice in Podcasts - The David McWilliams Podcast is essential listening for me too :)