Since 2010, an estimated 10,000 babyboomers have reached retirement age every day and will continue to do so until 2030, including many workers in the power generation and oil and gas industries. As the energy industry watches its core workforce prepare for retirement, it’s faced with replacing valuable years of knowledge and acquired talent from a limited pipeline. 

In the last decade, the energy industry has struggled to attract new talent to backfill open positions. Millennials and generation Z, the youngest entrants into the workforce, are opting to pursue non-conventional energy careers in computer science and consumer technology, rather than in plant engineering, operations or management. Some also associate the traditional industrial landscape with large-scale accidents and resulting environmental concerns, making it difficult to encourage them to seek job opportunities that are open. 

The fragile Potomac Watershed – stretching from southern Pennsylvania to Virginia and encompassing parts of West Virginia and Washington, D.C. – is 54.6 percent forest and home to 6.1 million people. Its preservation has been a cause célèbre since water pollution levels killed thousands of fish and closed the river down for recreational uses like swimming and boating. By 1951, the venerable Washington Post called the Potomac River an open sewer. Conservation and cleanup efforts have been regular events for the watershed’s residents ever since, and educating current and future generations is the key to protecting the area from unnecessary harm.

Archaic timers, manual valves and aging irrigation infrastructure are costing businesses too much money and time. That’s because traditional landscape irrigation systems provide little visibility into how much or when water is used. Grounds maintenance teams might not find out about a system leak for hours, sometimes days. Sudden weather systems that dump inches of rain can go unnoticed, so the systems continue with their regularly-scheduled watering. The result is excessive watering and runoff that can kill plants and damage building foundations, parking lots and other hardscapes.

America is a transportation nation. Infrastructure is the foundation that connects businesses, communities and people, driving our economy and our quality of life. Investments in infrastructure are essential to support healthy, vibrant communities and are critical to economic growth, employment and global competitiveness. America’s transportation infrastructure, therefore, is key to binding us together as a nation. As President Dwight Eisenhower observed, without the unifying force of transportation, “we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.”

Our transportation infrastructure is one of our most critical national assets. However, we are a nation at a crossroads. Today, our infrastructure systems are failing to keep pace with current and expanding needs, investment in infrastructure is faltering, and nearly half of all Americans lack access to transit services.

We can anticipate another year of headline-worthy changes in the industry, particularly with respect to how we build and maintain our nation’s infrastructure. The 2016 presidential elections will provide ample opportunity to debate the usual issues such as infrastructure funding and how to maintain a competitive edge in the global economy, particularly as the adoption of building information modeling (BIM) begins to advance across international borders.

Furthermore, we expect to see plenty of conversation concerning how the growing voice of the millennial generation with its early-adoption habits is going to impact the entire project-delivery process. And as facilities management technologies finally come into their own, the owner’s role in driving the use of BIM will become even more prominent. 

At its most basic, the energy transition underway represents the collision of two vastly different business models – risk-averse, regulated utilities versus competitive, market-driven solar companies – each with very disparate abilities to adapt quickly to change. At times, they appear to be moving away from each other at warp speed even as fast-evolving technologies in the energy industry are creating an environment where cooperation and collaboration are increasingly vital.

Software technologies and mobile devices are changing the way utilities ensure grid reliability and communicate with their customers. We are particularly seeing these changes reflected in utility demand response (DR) programs. With the rise of the cloud, data analytics and social media, utilities are pivoting to behavioral demand response (BDR) programs that combine the power of real-time analytics and two-way communications to reach a broader consumer base and improve customer satisfaction in ways that weren’t possible several years ago.

First-generation DR programs were a positive first step, but often required high upfront investments and resulted in customer dissatisfaction. These programs were difficult for utilities to manage, challenging to scale and typically required a large capital investment to purchase the hardware and software needed to implement the program. Equipment installed at the customer’s residence was often left exposed to the elements, causing frequent malfunctions that required repair and maintenance. 

For organizations in industries from healthcare to marketing, big data has become both a powerful tool and a management challenge. This trend is no different in the infrastructure sector, where developers and utilities must get their arms around scattered environmental sustainability data to support reporting and compliance efforts.

From simply defining what data is meaningful for your company to navigating the tools available to manage it, bringing big data under control is rarely simple. Your various stakeholders may require different data and reports. Managing data in diverse formats and from diverse sources – e.g., energy systems, water meters, maintenance reports or field surveys – can be a challenge. And it’s likely that different departments across your enterprise own different pieces of your data, which can make timely access a struggle.

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