Green.org sat down with Gabriel Peschier, CEO of Numa Products, to learn about the transition from architect to sustainable engineer, and how Numa Products is changing the status quo of office air conditioning where dissatisfaction is the norm and air distribution is not optimized for air quality.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:*
Two of the things I care about the most are at odds: on one hand I love buildings and how they can make people feel and on the other I care about minimizing our overall footprint to allow future humans and all the incredible flora and fauna of the world to prosper. Buildings account for an insane 40% of global carbon emissions, most of which is emitted after construction. As a kid who grew up wanting to be an architect it was depressing and exciting to learn that my beloved buildings were contributing mightily to climate change and that I needed to learn about the dynamic ways that buildings live and breathe in order to hopefully make a dent.
I’m an architect turned mechanical engineer who loves building products but really I’ve just learned what I need to in order to tackle one specific problem that drives me nuts: office buildings waste energy overcooling and overheating because they don’t respond to what people actually need. I partnered up with two companies with a combined 130+ years in air conditioning to launch Numa (numaproducts.com) a company that makes the world’s first personal smart vent so that each person can have control over their own source of clean fresh air–think airplane vent above your desk that you control with your phone.
What would you do with $1 Billion dollars?
Creating a superabundance of sustainable energy would significantly improve quality of life for billions of the least privileged people across the globe. It would have wonderful knock-on effects like unlocking cheaper sustainable food, extending our ability to travel, an increasing access to clean drinking water (e.g. through desalinization or condensation from air).
Funding research toward that vision seems like a good idea. A lot of public and private investment in R&D seeks incremental improvements with <10 year horizons so key stakeholders can chalk up timely wins–I would look at fundamental, long-term research that may not be getting funding as easily. That said, these are the musings of a theoretical billionaire who would be out of his depth. If you’ve got a billion dollars, it’s your responsibility to talk to experts and seek input from the general public on what they want to see happen in the world. Oh and if it’s alright with everyone I’m holding on to some of that money to selfishly pay my bills!
See How Numa Works
Why do you think sustainability is such an important topic today?
We’re at a tipping point where climate change is already going to be very hard on so many ecosystems and societies but it can still get a whole lot worse. You have to fight for the less bad outcome and I think every little bit counts. You can’t get too discouraged.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
The building industry is definitely going to be less carbon intensive. City legislation and corporate commitments are leading the way, but we need more. We’re going to see more mass timber from sustainably managed forests and a whole lot less concrete as we know it. You won’t see gas or oil burning boilers/heaters anymore because folks will heat with electric heat pumps powered by renewable energy sources. Gas stoves will get replaced by induction cooking surfaces. We will heat, cool and ventilate 30-40% less as we meet the occupant needs more precisely, we recover all the energy we can from exhausted air, and we insulate building envelopes better. Oh and robots are going to be a big part of how buildings are constructed and operated.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Compost! Stop sending your food waste to the landfill! Your city may have compost pickup and if not look for compost drop off spots.