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The Business of Green Buildings

The Business of Green Buildings

There is no doubt that the jewel of the University of Dallas campus is SB Hall, home of the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business. The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the facility is in process and, once obtained, will support the university’s commitment to energy efficiency and green architecture. A representative from Perkins+Will, the architectural firm that designed SB Hall, along with green building experts from the City of Dallas and Peloton Commercial Real Estate, spoke to a meeting of the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network on April 15, 2014, about the impact of sustainable construction and operational practices on both an organization and the community as a whole.

According to Mary Dickinson, Regional Sustainable Design Leader for Perkins+Will, designing and building a green building is a lot like a trip to the grocery store. “I have a lot of choices when I go to the store,” she said. “Should I buy my usual Jif or should I buy organic peanut butter? I’ve heard organic doesn’t have all those artificial ingredients, but I’m on a budget and doesn’t organic cost a lot more?” In Dickinson’s experience, these questions are similar to the ones an organization will often ask at the beginning of a green building project. “We sit down with them and talk with them about what they’ve heard about the green building process and specifically, LEED certification,” she said. Dickinson’s goal is to find out why the organization is asking about sustainable design, so that the firm can understand the organization’s motivations. “And their answers often sound like they’ve been playing a game of telephone,” she said.

This game of “telephone”—along with its jumble of good and bad information—can result in an organization, or even a whole business sector, holding serious misconceptions about the cost and benefits of sustainable construction. “A perfect example of this is the healthcare sector,” Dickinson said. “Everyone said that you can’t build green hospitals.”

To address this perception, Perkins+Will did a cost premium study that included 15 different LEED certified hospitals and the design firms and contractors associated with the projects. What they found was surprising. “There was actually no cost premium for LEED Silver or below,” she said. “And only a 5% premium for certification above that.” Dickinson also noted that the industry rule of thumb is an 18-month return on the cost premium for building a LEED-certified, sustainable building. “Operational systems like HVAC and lighting give them the most bang for their buck,” she said. “But it all adds up.”

Zaida Basora, Assistant Director of Facility Architecture and Engineering for the City of Dallas, has a unique perspective on the impact of not only green construction, but also of the costs and benefits of retrofitting existing buildings to meet so called “green” building codes. “The City of Dallas has a huge portfolio of buildings,” she said. “We have to balance costs and manage them efficiently.”

According to Basora, owners fall into one of three levels of commitment to a green building project. First-level goals, what she referred to as green, involve the implementation of passive systems such as HVAC along with energy, water and waste reduction. “At the next level–bright green–owners will take a holistic approach and consider sustainable features during the building’s overall design process,” she said. At the highest level–intelligent green–owners install sensors that monitor various systems throughout the building, then collect and analyze the data they produce. “This helps them manage and maintain the facility in the most efficient way possible,” Basora said.

Bill Moebius, Senior Vice President and Regional Director for Peloton Commercial Real Estate, discussed Dallas 2030 District, a private-public initiative to create a ground-breaking high-performance building district in downtown Dallas. According to its website, the goal of the organization is to cost-effectively and collaboratively reduce the environmental impact of building construction and operation. The volunteer group consists of property owners and managers, community members and professionals. “We’re using their expertise in different areas like HVAC and landscaping,” Moebius said. “And our target is to reduce water and energy consumption within the district by 50% by 2030.”

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Information on the next SBN event can be found at here.

Big Data Means Big Ethical Questions

Big Data Means Big Ethical Questions

“Big data” is a term that occurs regularly in discussions of corporate strategy and analytics, but what is it? “I hate the term ‘big data,’” said Tom Nealand, MBA ’87, Executive Vice President of Strategy & Innovation at Southwest Airlines. “You have to get clarity around what those words really mean if you want to develop a successful organizational structure that can take advantage of the information you’re generating.” Nealand spoke recently as part of the University of Dallas’ TIE expert panel series.
The panel discussion, held on March 18, 2016 and entitled “Executive Decision Making: Analyzing Big Data,” drew a large crowd at the University of Dallas’ Satish and Yasmin Gupta School of Business, due in no small part to the credentials of the panel, which also included Aaron Miri, MBA ’10, Chief Information Officer of Walnut Medical Center; Ellen Barker, MBA ’94, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Texas Instruments; and Rhonda Levene, MBA ’89, Former Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Daymon Worldwide. Mark Ryland, Chief Architect, Worldwide Public Sector Team, Amazon Web Services, moderated the panel.
Ryland attributed the tremendous growth in the sheer amount of data available to analyze to a few “megatrends” that have emerged within the tech industry. “First, storage is basically free,” he said. “There’s never any real reason for a company to delete the data they have collected on their customers. Second, the growth of new tools to analyze data has made it possible to handle a lot of information cheaply. And third, these days, just about everything is instrumental and is throwing off data. This means we are accumulating unprecedented amounts of information.”

But how, exactly, could and should a company use these mountains of data to make decisions? Barker explained that three things about big data make the management of it especially complicated. “Because of the internet of things, we are receiving data from an amazing variety of sources,” she said. “The velocity of data has also increased. And data has volatility. Some data is more valuable in the stream and less valuable as time progresses. Because of all these factors, we have to ask, ‘How do we architect our environment to give our business units the data they need?’”

Levene said her previous experience with Coca Cola and Daymon Worldwide helped her see big data from a consumer, brand-building perspective. “Big data becomes really effective for retailers when it creates consumer pull demand versus retailer pushing demand,” she said. “If handled correctly, it helps retailers correlate their next steps.”

For Miri, careful data analysis can have even greater implications. “In healthcare, data analytics is about saving lives,” he said. “If I can analyze how long it takes a patient to get from the ambulance into triage and then shave minutes off of that time, I can have a great impact on patient care.” Miri said even social media platforms can have an impact on hospitals. “We look at every bit of data. For example, we might look at Twitter for news of how the flu is spreading in the DFW area. That helps us prepare for what might be coming,” he said.

The panel also addressed questions from the audience about the ethics of collecting large amounts of data and then correlating it in a way that could threaten an individual’s privacy. The panelists agreed that even so-called anonymous data can be “de-anonymized” if subjected to a fine-grain analysis. Miri explained that the sequencing of the human genome is an example of how detailed healthcare data can both help and harm a potential patient. “If your genome shows you are at risk for cancer, a health insurance company cannot deny you coverage because of provisions in the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “But life insurers are not part of those regulations. They can deny coverage based on your genomic risk of getting cancer.” While this may seem troubling to a healthcare consumer, Miri added that these ethical situations should not preclude data analysis within the healthcare industry. “We must use the data to push society to get better. That’s the purpose of technology in healthcare. The question is: will people be willing to give up some privacy in order to achieve the end-game of a healthier society?”

Several members of the audience were also interested in how the panelists view the future of data analytics in their roles as employers. One person asked how he could remain relevant as an employee in an industry that changes every day. Nealon emphasized that to be successful, data analysts must emphasize their business skills. “Your business skills, coupled with strong applied mathematics skills, will make you an asset to an employer,” he said. “You must bring up your business intellect. You want to be known as a business person with tech DNA.”

All panelists agreed that the collection, analysis and protection of data is now an integral part of corporate responsibility and is what they called a “board-level” issue. “Proper data governance is a priority for businesses,” Ryland said. “And these emerging questions about how to use the data have become ethical questions as well.”

TIE stands for Transformation, Innovation and Ethics. It is an expert panel series in which alumni leaders host a discussion on transitions and the future of business. The purpose of TIE is to bring together alumni, administration, students and faculty to discuss a rapidly transitioning world and how to innovate and manage that change in an ethical manner. Find out more by visiting UD’s Alumni website.

Sustainable Business Network: Understanding Big Data

Sustainable Business Network: Understanding Big Data

The phrase “big data”–intriguing to some, unsettling to others—is the common business term for the treasure trove of information companies collect and analyze in hopes making informed, strategic decisions. Representatives from Sabre, United Healthcare and a major global telecommunications provider spoke at the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network event on October 20, 2015, about how their specific organizations balance the need for consumer analytics with their customers’ desire for privacy.

“The ‘Big Data’ department is more like a Silicon Valley start-up,” said the director of big data privacy and compliance for the telecommunications company. “Every day is something new. There’s no one to ask and no manual or practice guide.”

The director said that big data leads to predictive analytics and that data on customer behavior can help companies predict future activity, such as the likelihood of customer “churn,” leaving one communications service provider for another. Because of FCC regulations, however, customers of the telecommunications company must “opt-in” to allow the company to collect anything more than basic service data. The director said bringing in data scientists from unregulated fields who aren’t used to the kinds of regulations to which his company must comply is a particular challenge. “They have great ideas,” he said, “but they don’t fit into what a highly-regulated company can do.”

Dorcinda Pipkin, Data Privacy Manager for Sabre, a global travel services company, said that because her company provides the technology which airlines and hotels use to interact with their own customers, Sabre has to be particularly careful about how consumer data is used. “Our goal is to provide our customers [airlines, hotels and travel services] with information on their travelers that allows them to provide their own customers with better service and pricing, “ she said. “Each contract negotiation includes a detailed description of exactly how the end-consumer’s data will be used.”

Andrew Consolver, Vice President of Information Technology for United Healthcare said that big data helps his company fulfill its mission of helping people live healthier lives. “By interacting with patients, medical providers and employers, we can help individuals by using data about what has helped others who have been on the same path. This not only leads to a better quality of life for patients, it reduces medical costs in general,” Consolver said.

Storing mounds of sensitive data is not without its risks. A question from the audience led the panelists into a discussion of the security of PII, or personally identifiable information. Consolver said that data security is a top priority for United Healthcare. “We have refined and increased the focus on security by orders of magnitude in recent years,” he said.

The telecommunications director described internal processes at his company that keep highly sensitive private data secure. “Our external firewall protects us from outside invaders. Having an internal firewall means that we manually monitor the very few, highly-trusted individuals that have access to sensitive data,” he said.

The panelists agreed that although data scientists at their respective companies may present new and innovative ways to cull and analyze customer data, it is ultimately up to the compliance teams to determine whether these activities meet their internal privacy regulations. “We have to ask ourselves,” the telecommunications director said, “’What are the ethical implications of mining this data?’”

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Click here for information on the next SBN event.

UD Alumni on the Future of Healthcare

UD Alumni on the Future of Healthcare

University of Dallas alumni distinguished for their work in the healthcare industry addressed questions on September 9, 2015, about the future of healthcare as part of UD’s “Transformation, Innovation and Ethics” series. The panel, led by CHRISTUS Health CEO Ernie Sadau, was composed of physicians and business leaders with unique insights into the challenges facing large hospital systems and individual practitioners alike. “The role of the physician is changing in the U.S.,” said Dr. Brannon Marlowe (BS ’89), an anesthesiologist. “As physicians, we need to learn how to adapt to change in this new system.”

Karin Grantham (MBA ’93), retired Vice President of Global Medical Solutions with Johnson & Johnson agreed: “There are big problems out there that need to be solved and we have to develop partnerships among the constituents involved in healthcare.”

Chief among the topics that panelists said could “keep them up at night” were the implications of the Affordable Care Act. “There are three components to a healthcare system: Cost, quality and access. Pick any two, but you can’t have all three,” said Marlowe. Dr. Irving Prengler (MBA ’00), Chief Medical Officer of Baylor Scott & White, added that, as a physician, he wants everyone to have access to care. “But can we afford to pay for that?” he said. “I don’t know.”

Dr. Donna Sue Dolle (BA ’89), a general internist practicing under a concierge medicine model, said that many of the problems people blame on the Affordable Care Act have been around for a long time. “Ninety percent of our woes were around way before the ACA,” she said.

One area in which panelists had different insights was on the use of technology. Grantham highlighted various innovations in telemedicine and wearable diagnostic technology as advancements that could improve both costs and patient care in the future. The physicians on the panel acknowledged the importance of innovation but stressed the need for face-to-face care as the gold-standard of medicine. “Nothing can replace my ability to look at my patient and to hear my patient directly,” Dolle said.

Prengler agreed that while innovations are exciting, they must be backed by solid outcomes before they can be incorporated in the standard of care. “Telemedicine can’t just be another avenue for a doctor to prescribe antibiotics for a virus,” he said, acknowledging the pressure physicians often feel from patients to prescribe medication when none is actually needed.

Sadau asked the panel in closing, “If you could go back and chose another career, would you?” Despite the challenges each faces in the healthcare industry, all acknowledged that, given the opportunity, they would again choose the same path that led them to healthcare as a career.

The University of Dallas’ Transformation, Innovation and Ethics series is an expert panel series in which alumni leaders host discussions on the future of business. The purpose of TIE is to bring together alumni, administration, students and faculty to discuss a rapidly transitioning world and ways in which to innovate and manage that change in an ethical manner. For more information, click here.

Physicists address students as part of Clare Boothe Luce Speaker Program

Physicists address students as part of Clare Boothe Luce Speaker Program

“Get your hands dirty.” That’s the advice Dr. Stephanie Wissel, Assistant Professor of Physics at the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo and a University of Dallas alumna, gave to students during her visit to UD on September 3, 2015. Wissel and her husband, Dr. Nathan Keim, were here as part of the Clare Boothe Luce Speaker Series, sponsored by the Physics Department.

“You have to try out what interests you,” Wissel continued. “If you don’t like it, try something else. Find someone who does research in an area you’re interested in and try to work with them. It’s a lot better than doing a Google search.” Wissel’s remarks came during a breakfast in which she and Keim answered students’ questions about everything from working for NASA to getting into graduate school.

Keim, Assistant Professor of Physics at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, agreed with Wissel’s remarks and added, “Your work has to be something that excites you, especially if you are going for a Ph.D. It’s a long journey so you have to be doing something you love.”

Keim’s talk, titled “Memory in Cyclically Driven Systems,” focused on behavior of particles in soft condensed matter and their ability to retain memory of previous states. Although his experiments were successful, he faced many challenges at the outset of his research. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no background in chemistry and I made a big mess. I also had to make a perfect apparatus with which to test my materials,” Keim said.

Keim’s research has far reaching implications for materials science. It can help engineers understand the causes of metal fatigue and predict how specific materials will behave under the pressures of temperature fluctuations. It could potentially help scientists understand how memories are formed in our own neural networks.

Wissel’s talk, titled “Searching for the Highest Energy Cosmic Particles at the Ends of the Earth,” focused on her research on detecting the highest energy particles in the universe using detectors in Polar Regions such as Antarctica and Greenland.

While at the University of Dallas, Wissel was awarded the Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship as well as the Cardinal Spellman Award and Montosorri Award for Outstanding Physics Student. The Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship program, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, provides scholarships for female students at the University of Dallas majoring in Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, or Engineering. In addition to the scholarships, the University sponsors the Clare Boothe Luce Speaker Series, one of several initiatives designed to attract women into physical science, engineering, and mathematical areas and to support them once there. For more information on events sponsored by the University of Dallas’ Office of Personal Career Development, click here.

Texas Instruments: A Commitment to Ethics

Texas Instruments: A Commitment to Ethics

According to David Solomon, Vice President and Director of Ethics at Texas Instruments, a respect for history is an important part of the TI culture. From its beginnings as an oil exploration company in the 1930s and throughout its evolution into a $13 billion dollar leader in the technology industry, ethics have also been an integral part of the company’s core values. “What we have behind us is a long history of doing the right thing,” Solomon said, “as well as the momentum to keep doing it.” Solomon spoke on July 24, 2015 to a group of local business leaders on the topic of ethics and compliance as part of the University of Dallas’ Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business Sustainable Business Network event. Texas Instruments hosted over 80 attendees from a variety of local companies, including Oncor, Sabre, PepsiCo, Bell Helicopter, Fidelity Investments, Cucina Antiqua, along with a large cohort from AT&T.

“A true commitment to ethics comes from the top,” Solomon said. “TI’s leaders establish the ‘tone at the top’ by communicating to the entire their own commitment to doing business the right way.” In order to ensure that everyone at Texas Instruments understands the importance of ethical behavior, Solomon travels to TI sites around the world speaking with leaders and employees to help them understand the company’s code of conduct.

In 2015, Texas Instruments was named as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Magazine for the 9th consecutive year and was named 2nd in Industry on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies list for 12th consecutive year. Solomon believes that TI has achieved these accolades because ethics is a priority for everyone in the company. “We have always had an open door policy at TI,” Solomon said. To reinforce this, the company has established 13 mostly anonymous channels for employees to communicate concerns about ethics or compliance.

Solomon also addressed how an emphasis on ethics affects the company’s global interests. “We want to do business the right way at Texas Instruments. We carry the message around the world–into countries or cultures where employees might be reluctant to report a compliance issue,” he said. According to Solomon, this commitment to ethics helps TI recruit top-quality employees. “Telling our story helps us recruit the right people. They want to work for a good company,” he said.

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Information on the next SBN event can be found at here.

Sustainable Business Network Hosts Frito Lay Fleet Innovators

Sustainable Business Network Hosts Frito Lay Fleet Innovators

The fleet division of Frito Lay was once only a footnote in the PepsiCo annual report. But since creating a vision in 2005 to become a world class fleet, Frito Lay has become an industry leader in the use of alternative fuels and electric vehicles.

On September 28, 2014, at an event hosted by the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network, a group of local business leaders heard from Steve Hanson and Ken Marko how Frito Lay based its vision of becoming a world class fleet on the platforms of reliability, sustainability, and capability. “We knew that being able to put or products on the shelf reliably while saving on fuel costs and carbon emissions would lead to improved performance and improved service to our customers,” said Marko, the company’s Senior Fleet Sustainability Manager. The goal of Frito Lay’s fleet division is a 50% reduction in the use of traditional fuels by 2020.

Hanson, Director of Fleet Engineering for Frito Lay, explained to the group the logistical problems associated with the transition of its tractor trailer fleet from traditional to compressed natural gas vehicles, which currently make up 30% of the company’s fleet. In addition to working with manufacturers to create the trucks themselves, the company had to invest in infrastructure associated with fueling stations large enough to service tractor trailers. Frito Lay also invested heavily in the education of its drivers, realizing that a company-wide culture of sustainability was necessary for the success of the fleet transition. As a result of the company’s commitment to alternative fuels, the tractor trailer fleet has saved 5,000,000 gallons of diesel and 13,000 metric tons of emission annually.

Another integral part of Frito Lay’s commitment to sustainability is its shift to electric box trucks for its short-range delivery drivers. Marko explained that the company took advantage of government stimulus money to launch its electric vehicle program by buying 155 trucks before they had even committed to a pilot program. “It was a risk. It was not practical, but it was the right thing to do,” said Marko. One of the key components of the success during this transition was the education of the route drivers. Because these drivers are commissioned salespeople, their buy-in was crucial to the company’s sustainability plan. “Our people see the long term benefits of electric vehicles. I spoke to a driver who said, ‘I don’t want to contribute to the pollution my grandkids will have to clean up,’” said Marko. Frito Lay’s goal is to have the largest box truck fleet in the world and to eliminate 500 million gallons of diesel and five metric tons of CO2 from the environment.

Following the presentations Hanson, Marko, and Cynthia Baker, Director of Corporate Communications for PepsiCo, took questions from the audience about the logistics of the company’s sustainability plan. The speakers encouraged audience members to contact them personally for more information about the company’s fleet program.

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts.

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Information on the next SBN event can be found at here.