AFCEA Bethesda Smart Tech Symposium Interview Series: Catherine Norman, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University

AFCEA Bethesda Smart Tech Symposium Interview Series: Interview with Catherine Norman

On October 23, AFCEA Bethesda is hosting an innovative educational symposium for government and industry participants who are or want to be on the cutting edge of smart technology and sustainability. The goals of the event are to make the business case for sustainability, show “big data” applications for energy management, highlight accomplishments with smart building technologies, illustrate saving from effective Federal fleet management, data center energy efficiencies and sustainability leading practices, articulate the connection between data centers and sustainability, and explain the impact of recent regulations and policy related to sustainability for IT procurement.

The AFCEA Smart Tech Symposium Social Media Team put together a mini series of interviews with Academic Experts on related subject matter, to get them to provide insight into their research and how they play a part in building the business case for sustainability on a daily basis through their work.

Our first interview is with Catherine Norman, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University, jointly appointed to the Department of Economics.We asked Professor Norman a couple of questions to get others familiar with her research and to address some of the main topics that will be discussed on October 23rd at the Smart Tech Symposium.

Professor Norman, give us a brief description of your research and your interests in energy economics and energy policy.

I’m an environmental economist focused on multidisciplinary, policy relevant research into energy, natural resource management, regulation, international environmental agreements, and sustainability. I am an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University, jointly appointed to the Department of Economics. My energy related work has considered the development of renewable and lower-carbon generation, including the sensitivity of investment choices to regulatory uncertainty, the integration of smaller, distributed generation into the transmission and distribution system and the environmental and economic implications associated with microgrids, and the functioning of the European carbon market and subsequent effects on energy prices. I also study climate and ozone policy and the social and institutional patterns associated with natural resource extraction and climate change.

Tell us about how your research fits into the broader framework of building a business case for sustainability.

I think any work that looks at direct and indirect gains from the use of new technologies helps to identify markets and stakeholders for lower-carbon generation technology and electricity and co-products. Identifying limitations and unintended consequences of policy choices helps create constituencies for improved regulatory environments for sustainable businesses. I also think that broader awareness of the full lifecycle effects of various technologies and products helps raise interest in dealing with sustainable companies and commodities.

How will widespread implementation of smart grid technologies influence businesses and consumer choices surrounding energy and resource management?

Smart grid technologies will offer large amounts of new information and opportunities to consumers, producers, and regulators. Efficiency gains are among the cheapest ways to reduce emissions, and we will be able to identify many new opportunities to reduce use and to optimize management of the electricity generation and distribution system for cheaper and more reliable energy production. Business and residential consumers will have more control over their energy use and more awareness of the costs and benefits associated with use of equipment, appliances, and household systems. Cheap, widespread control and measurement of energy uses will allow markets to develop differentiated energy commodities with regards to timing of use, reliability, and convenience, which offers a lot of promise for our energy future.

A very special thank you to Professor Norman for giving us her time and insight into how her research helps promote sustainable practices.

If you would like to learn more and keep these discussions going, attend the AFCEA Smart Tech Symposium. The event link, complete with the agenda and confirmed speakers is listed below.

Event link: http://tinyurl.com/cmxx4cn

Confirmed Speakers: https://www.signup4.net/public/ap.aspx?EID=SMAR36E&OID=148

Who Should Attend:

  • Agency representatives releasing new IT contracts, including data center consolidation
  • Agency representatives responsible for achieving the goals in their agency’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan
  • Industry representatives looking for new opportunities outside the CIO’s office for IT, including cloud, big data, and mobility
  • Company executives that need to understand the business case for incorporating sustainable practices into their overall corporate strategy and operations
  • Federal capture and business development executives needing to be informed about government-wide trends
  • Small business representatives and system integrators interested in teaming opportunities

Learning objectives include:

  • New opportunities for traditional IT companies in this trend of “smart” facilities
  • New training and organizational change opportunities associated with this trend
  • Insight on how to position your IT offerings to help government use “big data” to increase sustainability of operations and reduce operating costs
  • Education for the private sector to create solutions that enable the government to realize the goals of the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship
  • Case studies on how agencies have achieved cost savings by operating more sustainably
  • Information on new tools, processes and methodologies in sustainability
  • Details on agency requirements, including specific policies, mandates, and recent executive orders

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