Predictive Modeling for Climate Change: Q&A with Pierre Khalil

January 31st, 2022


Pierre Khalil joined Metrus in late 2021, becoming the company’s first Director of Operations. An engineer with deep technical experience, Khalil brings a valuable perspective to Metrus’ sustainable energy projects.

Khalil is presenting at the ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) winter meeting in Las Vegas. His topic, “Predictive Modeling for a Changing Climate,” is a big theme at this year’s event.

Pierre, tell us a little bit about your background and what you will be doing in this newly created position at Metrus.

Prior to joining Metrus I worked for a Seattle-based energy service company called McKinstry, developing energy performance projects. I also spent time in Alaska as a full-time civilian contractor for the U.S. Coast Guard, developing energy projects that focused on resilience.

Metrus has grown to a size where we have enough operational projects in our portfolio that it made sense to add an in-house resource with a technical background. Part of my role will be helping facilitate our sales efforts: As an engineer, I can help our customers understand the technical benefits of using a Sustainable Energy Services Agreement to make facility improvements and achieve their science-based targets.

How does Metrus measure and track GHG reductions from its project investments?

We produce detailed calculations for every project based on electricity reductions, natural gas reductions and water reductions. Then we break that data down into various metrics of carbon reduction. We also like to show the savings equivalents in more relatable ways, like number of trees planted or cars taken off the road. This database of our customers’ GHG reductions, which we track year over year, is not just about the dollars they’re saving, it’s also about the amount of carbon reduction they’re seeing.

How does this connect to trends in the marketplace like the Science-Based Targets Initiative which many companies use to set net zero targets?

It’s one of a handful of different levers that a company can pull to achieve its goals. So, if a customer has science-based targets established Metrus can help them reach those goals. And the beauty of the Metrus model is that we can help customers reach those targets without the need for extra capital.

Tell me a little about ASHRAE, and what is the significance of the upcoming conference you’re speaking at?

ASHRAE got its start as an HVAC industry group focused on heating, cooling, ventilation, and building systems. They’ve since grown into a leading role in building and energy modeling. They bridge the divide between the “old” HVAC industry and the new industry with its emphasis on how the built environment can be more efficient.

The focus of the conference is looking at the built environment from the climate change perspective. What kind of things we can do to be more efficient, particularly for retrofit energy projects? How can we understand the effect that our projects are going to have on the built environment and the effect on the climate after that?

What is your presentation about and what are the 2-3 key takeaways you hope to leave?

My presentation, as well as the panel I’m on and ASHRAE in general, is pushing for better, more reliable ways to use predictive climate modeling. The way energy modeling and project development have traditionally been done is to just look at historical climate data, sometimes going back as much as 30 years, and using that as the basis for how a building or project would perform in the future. That’s been largely proven inaccurate.

Predictive climate modeling is going to change the types of products and projects that we develop. It’s going to change our focus on the types of systems that we install and technologies that we deploy and it’s going to change project economics. As an industry, if we don’t do this, we’re getting further and further away from accurately predicting, measuring, and tracking efficiency upgrades. We’re really pushing the industry to adopt some of these tools.

What is Metrus doing that excites you the most?

From a technical side of things, the company is heading in the right direction, but to me what makes Metrus such an interesting company is the way it facilitates the deployment of energy projects without the need for capital or debt. It knocks down a barrier to entry for companies to achieve efficiency goals that they might not otherwise have been able to because of their financial situation. The SESA enables building and facility owners to make changes and reduce their energy consumption, reduce their carbon impact, and make progress on their science-based targets. I’m also excited to expand on our Efficiency Audit program, through which we evaluate an organization’s potential energy savings based on an analysis of their current energy spend and age and type of equipment. That’s a compelling offering.