Cool­ing Mea­sures

He’s re­duc­ing the re­gion’s car­bon foot­print, build­ing by build­ing.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Power List -

To be cool, or not to be – that is a ques­tion that the Rajamand house­hold of­ten asks. “My wife likes the com­fort that air-con­di­tion­ing brings but I don’t think it’s nec­es­sary,” Poyan Rajamand says with a chuckle.

It is more than just a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence. Rajamand’s en­ergy ef­fi­ciency ser­vices start-up, Bargh­est Build­ing Per­for­mance ( BBP), has made a name for it­self by us­ing soft­ware-based tech­nol­ogy to re­duce the en­ergy con­sump­tion of build­ings – half of which pow­ers air-con­di­tion­ing and re­frig­er­a­tion – sim­ply by op­ti­mis­ing the way cool­ing sys­tems are run.

The six-year-old com­pany helps its 20 clients such as Re­sorts World Sen­tosa, Capella Sin­ga­pore, Dairy Farms and Changi Air­port Group achieve com­bined en­ergy sav­ings of 30 mil­lion kwh an­nu­ally, or the mone­tary equiv­a­lent of $3 mil­lion. It uses a third party, tech­nol­ogy au­dit­ing com­pany DNV GL, to quan­tify clients’ en­ergy sav­ings, of which BBP gets paid a per­cent­age.

In 2015, BBP led Philips Lu­mileds into be­com­ing the first man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Sin­ga­pore to be awarded the Green Mark Plat­inum for Ex­ist­ing Build­ings by the Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Au­thor­ity. Philips Lu­mileds now saves 3.3 mil­lion kwh an­nu­ally. “When we achieved this in Sin­ga­pore, which is a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket for sus­tain­able so­lu­tions, we re­alised we had some­thing truly unique,” says the 42-year-old Ira­nian-born Swede, who is now a per­ma­nent res­i­dent.

As at­trac­tive as BBP’s sales pitch might sound, no one bought it in the be­gin­ning. The idea was that clients could achieve 20 to 30 per cent en­ergy sav­ings with zero up­front cost. BBP would get paid a por­tion of its clients’ sav­ings only if its so­lu­tion worked.

Yet, peo­ple ques­tioned the in­stal­la­tion process, the sus­tain­abil­ity of the young com­pany and po­ten­tial is­sues if the sys­tem failed, re­calls Rajamand, whose pre­vi­ous role as con­sul­tant at McKin­sey & Co saw him work on en­ergy and clean fi­nanc­ing mat­ters.

Mean­while, the seed cap­i­tal of $1 mil­lion, which Rajamand and his co-founder, Ong En-Ping, took from their per­sonal sav­ings, was fast de­plet­ing. Even when they fi­nally clinched their first deal, it was over bud­get and de­layed. “But at least it showed that what we were do­ing, worked,” he says. “At the start, you rely on peo­ple tak­ing a leap of faith in you.

“Sta­tus quo is beau­ti­ful. No one will fi re you for not tak­ing a risk. But, if you try some­thing new and it goes hor­ri­bly wrong, you’ll be in trou­ble. That men­tal­ity slows down tech­nol­ogy adap­ta­tion.

“I do not think it’s un­fair. It’s up to us in the sus­tain­abil­ity space to bet­ter make our case. Our so­lu­tion must make eco­nomic sense. It must be op­er­a­tionally as good as, if not bet­ter than, what­ever is in the mar­ket. We should have a bet­ter so­lu­tion for peo­ple, while de­liv­er­ing on en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.”

In­vestors have caught on. BBP re­cently raised $45 mil­lion for re­gional ex­pan­sion. It is cur­rently in eight ter­ri­to­ries, in­clud­ing In­dia, In­done­sia, Thai­land, Tai­wan and Malaysia. So far this year, it has se­cured $18 mil­lion worth of con­tracts. To fur­ther drive down en­ergy con­sump­tion and en­hance sav­ings, it has been in­vest­ing in cloud tech­nol­ogy and data an­a­lyt­ics for real-time in­sight and im­proved con­trol.

Even as he drives the busi­ness for­ward, Rajamand has an­other press­ing is­sue: rel­e­vance. His, to be ex­act. “The ques­tion of whether I’m an as­set to my busi­ness, or a drag, al­ways plagues me,” he says. “The busi­ness needs dif­fer­ent sets of peo­ple to grow it, at dif­fer­ent stages. At a cer­tain point, it won’t be me. Keep­ing the busi­ness as a sep­a­rate en­tity from my­self has helped me. I be­lieve the busi­ness is big­ger than me.”

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