James will be featured this month in Engineer Your Career, an employment newsletter put out by The University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering. His article is reposted below.
We're also presenting at the Faulty of Engineering in mid-May, where we'll be announcing a small number of paid projects for students to work on. If you want to be kept informed about those, subscribe to our mailing list here.
Evident is an Auckland-based company focused on improving the performance of the built environment. They work on leading-edge building projects throughout New Zealand, supplying consultancy services and building control systems that achieve extremely high levels of energy and water efficiency, and occupant comfort. They also run communication campaigns based on these buildings that aim to inspire and enable uptake of innovation in the building sector.
I have always been interested in unconventional solutions to engineering problems. The field of electrical/electronics engineering is so broad in its application, that it is often at the forefront of innovation. After completing my degree, I searched for a role that would allow me to develop new ideas into working solutions. Evident’s aspiration to change the built environment for the better has innovation at its core and I joined as a Graduate Controls Engineer in October 2015.
During my time with Evident I have been working on New Zealand’s largest Net Zero Energy and Living Building Challenge project, a 100-bed tourist and education centre currently under construction in the South Island. Net Zero Energy buildings generate as much electricity as they use and the Living Building Challenge is considered an international benchmark for sustainable building practices. Evident is designing and supplying a control and monitoring solution for the site that manages its solar-thermal, ground source heat pumps, heating, hot water and lighting systems. This control is essential to achieving the energy efficiency required for Net Zero Energy.
A core part of my role so far has been developing real-time control logic for the solar thermal plant. One of the inputs to this is the number of people using each building, which has required me to develop software interfaces between the building control PLCs and a cloud-based booking system. Two areas I’ve just started working on are designing logic for external lighting that will ‘follow’ people as they move along pathways, and an open loop position control solution that will operate retro-style electricity meters on the walls of buildings to show real-time energy generation and use.
Evident is also heavily involved in the communication side of this project, and my role is starting to overlap with those elements through design of the approach to monitoring performance of the site. Energy, water and thermal performance data is monitored and then pushed to the cloud for viewing by building users, staff and the general public. I’ve researched the devices that allow us to capture this data and worked with our web developer to build the backend of prototype apps to present data from these devices to building users in real-time.
Evident has a friendly, relaxed social atmosphere, where individuals are self motivated and have an intrinsic work ethic. The company aims to innovate in business practices as well as its projects – in 2016 it is implementing a transparent approach to make revenue and costs (including salaries) public, and it is also exploring shared equity schemes to give ownership to employees. There is a constant drive to innovate and push the boundaries of solutions. A factual engineering-driven approach is taken to achieving sustainability outcomes in buildings, without sacrificing functionality or comfort.
Evident are intending to offer a range of small, paid projects in the second half of 2016 to give students exposure to leading-edge building projects and a chance to work alongside the team. These projects will be announced at a presentation evening at the Faculty of Engineering in mid-May.