An Interview with Jessica Mouawad - A young researcher in the HIT2GAP Project

Jessica - interview.jpg 

Lori McElroy of BRE interviewed Jessica Mouawad from Bouygues, France

Jessica, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the HIT2GAP Newsletter:

Q1: What did you study at University and how has this been of benefit in your role at Bouygues?

I graduated with a bachelor degree of engineering in mechanical engineering in 2015 before obtaining a master degree from Ecole Polytechnique in 2016 in the field of energy, specialisation in renewable energy, science and technology.  I joined Bouygues Energies and Services in 2016 to work on innovation and R&D projects in the field of smart buildings and energy performance.  I make use of my academic background every day at work through effective problem solving and project management, knowledge of buildings' technical, environmental and social environment and adaptation to technological changes.

Q2 What is your specific role in the HIT2GAP project?

I represent Bouygues Energies & Services in the HIT2GAP consortium.  In particular, I am responsible for the deployment of HIT2GAP on the French demonstration site Challenger, which is the headquarters of Bouygues Construction.  In addition, my role involves running, integrating and testing HIT2GAP and its modules on the different plot sites.

Q3 What most excites you about being involved in this project?

I think that this project is quite interesting for several reasons.  Firstly, because it's a collaboration between partners from different backgrounds, between researchers and practitioners, between companies and universities.  So the theoretical parts of the projects are always validated with concrete use cases and applications from pilot sites.  Secondly, HIT2GAP includes several machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms, integrated together to deliver fault detection and diagnosis, action management, energy prediction and others.  This is an added-value of the project since these elements benefit from large sets of data available to manipulate them, correlate events and automatically give a meaning to the flow of information in a building.  Thirdly, I am excited about working with behaviour modelling, since these are modules that tend to replace traditional automation of buildings by adapted approaches that put the occupants and their comfort at the top of a facility managers' priorities.  In addition, they tend to involve the occupants with their office consumption through user-tailored and easily interpreted information, which can be understood by everyone.

Q4 What do you consider to be the main challenges in delivering a project like this?

HIT2GAP involves the participation of 22 partners and a project of this size is not always easy to coordinate.  The participants come from different countries, different backgrounds and the challenge is to combine their expertise together and harmonize their interests to maximise the acquisition of useful information from the platform.  Also, it is not straightforward to process the large flow of data coming from energy meters, environment sensors, occupancy, simulations, feedbacks and others.  The challenge will be to use these data to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Q5 Do you think HIT2GAP could really make a different?  How?/If not, why not?

HIT2GAP is a tool to provide information and support decision making for facility managers, energy managers and occupants by giving the right information to the right user.  By targeting specific user groups and giving useful recommendations through action management and adapted display modules, HIT2GAP is able to involve a larger group of persons.  Moreover, through calibrated simulations, HIT2GAP helps users and managers to better understand and target the energy performance gap between the simulation and the actual operation of the building.

Q6 Do you believe that we can really influence/deliver behaviour change through projects like this?  If so, what do you think we can influence and what is more difficult?

Behaviour change is something that you can attain with time and perseverance.  Energy efficiency knowledge and actions should become incorporated in the habits of occupants.  So what HIT2GAP can achieve is only a first step of a long term process.  Giving simplified information that is reached and understood by everyone will help people, even non-specialists in the energy field, to have a clearer idea of the impact of their actions on the environment.  The difficulty lies in validating the relevance of the collected information and convincing the occupants to take the right actions.  So far, research on behaviour change has proven the effectiveness of feedback and community based initiatives.

Q7 How do you see HIT2GAP benefiting your career in the future?

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, behaviour change, action management... are all fashionable terms that everybody seems to use.  But with HIT2GAP these terms are all integrated together and applied to concrete use cases.  What I am looking forward to identify with HIT2GAP is how these modules will contribute to the reduction of building energy consumption and defaults and how they will lead to better management of energy performance contracts and targets.

Q8 What do you think will be HIT2GAP's main contribution to benefit wider society?

HIT2GAP ultimate objective is to understand and reduce the energy performance gap between simulated and actual consumption.  So the conclusions that we are able to reach by the end of the project, will help in defining how simulations and design phases can be improved in order to reduce energy consumption and hence, CO2 emissions.  I would also say that promoting behavioural change is a major societal impact of HIT2GAP.

Q9 What do you think we will have achieved in 5 years?

A new generation of energy management systems each capable of learning from its pool of information, adapting to changes and monitoring building operations to optimise occupant comfort and reduce energy consumption.