A Conversation with Paul Tyno, Strategic Advisor on Energy Initiatives for the BNMC
Paul Tyno is a respected energy industry professional who is responsible for implementing the Campus Energy Innovation Plan with our partners, member institutions and surrounding neighborhoods. His background includes building, designing and implementing complex demand response/load management programs and related demand side management solutions. Paul is a nationally recognized industry spokesperson and demand response subject area expert. He is the past Chairman of the Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA), a professional industry organization.
Why the focus on Energy for a Medical Campus?
No one really understands the value of energy until you don’t have it. For any medical institution, it is a foundational element that drives so much including all of the equipment, technology, and research, so ensuring continuous, high-quality power is critical. Any disruption can have significant, and potentially life threatening implications. In this digital age, there are also differing levels of power quality and, because of the nature of medical institutions, the quality has to be higher than other energy users. If your lights flicker at home, it is no big deal, but a similar disruption to sensitive medical equipment or technology could have profound implications.
How do the Campus and its member institutions benefit from a focus on energy?
From the beginning, we understood that it was important to create a high-level energy environment for the Campus and its medical institutions. As a campus with multiple institutions, we recognized that we have more robust opportunities for collective action that can maximize efficiencies and that our member institutions could socialize the costs to realize these benefits. Working together may also bring more diversification to the strategies we employ that may not have been possible if member institutions worked alone. By focusing our efforts in this way, we can drive value for our member institutions.
As a “city within a city,” the BNMC is also in a unique position to drive change in the energy arena in ways that municipalities and utilities simply can’t. We can test, deploy and execute new wp-contentroaches that can become catalyst for change and potentially a model for others. The Medical Campus and our overall region also benefit because high quality infrastructure signals innovation and a progressive wp-contentroach that attracts companies and professionals to this area.
How did the Energy Initiative begin on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus?
As the BNMC was completing its Campus Master Plan, we began having informal conversations with National Grid who challenged us to consider energy implications and to think about energy more holistically as we planned for growth. That resulted in us collaborating to create EnergizeBNMC, a Campus energy plan that looked at the long term. By creating an energy plan, we put in place a formal planning structure that included energy considerations in the planning phase of development. This allowed us to collectively plan for future growth and ensure that the energy needs of the Campus could be met effectively and efficiently as part of the overall development plan.
After a career in industry and on the consulting side of the energy business, what was it about working for the non-profit BNMC that interested you?
The social impact of BNMC’s work and its energy focus was very wp-contentealing to me. Also, having been born and raised here, I was also drawn to the Buffalo-centric nature of the work – I like having a role, even on a small level, in Buffalo’s rebirth.
BNMC was recently awarded NY Prize for the design of a microgrid – what does that mean for the Medical Campus?
Regardless of the award, our focus has been the development of the Medical Campus and our surrounding neighborhoods as a self-sustaining energy hub, enabling us to “island” from the existing grid in the event of a catastrophe or to optimize energy on “blue sky” days. We had begun planning for the development of a microgrid before NY Prize was introduced and it has helped us to fund the project. Collectively, the Campus wants to maximize economic value through the effective use of energy resources – both those that exist and future ones. While all microgrids seek to improve energy resiliency, particularly in the face of emergencies or extreme weather events, the BNMC will also have a significant focus on developing a microgrid business model that will drive cost savings and potential monetization opportunities for its member institutions.
How significant is the award and the work ahead?
The NY Prize for the design of the Medical Campus microgrid is very significant. The BNMC was one of only eleven other projects funded at this stage. We had been awarded $100,000 from Stage 1 NY Prize in 2015 for the initial feasibility study and now the Stage 2 funding, at wp-contentroximately $900,000, will help fund a more detailed design plan. This stage will allow us to develop strategies to outline technology, assets, location, ownership, operations and performance expectations. Once completed, our member institutions will have the necessary information they will need to make decisions about enacting any or all parts of the plan and the role they want to play. We envision this wp-contentroach will allow the Medical Campus to be connected and run parallel with the existing grid or to disconnect and run independently as a collective unit, providing the high quality power we require.
There are other benefits beyond core energy benefits as well including improving our ability to attract investment, new partners and new companies to the region. It also positions us as a model for other cities, Medical Campuses or Innovation Districts who may be interested in building a more robust energy plan for their region. Because the Medical Campus does not have a single point of governance, we may present a more “real world” model and be able to share lesson learned on collaboration and partnership.
What is the future goal or ideal state regarding Energy on Campus?
Even if our current vision of a self-sustaining energy hub becomes are reality, I don’t think we ever envision to be completely done with our energy work, as it is very dynamic. We will need to continue to respond and innovate based on the economics, the policy and regulatory environment and the evolution of technology and innovation in the marketplace. Collaboration with our member institutions and industry partners makes this possible and I envision it will continue for the foreseeable future.