Earth Month is a great time to reflect on our practices and decisions that are planet positive, and that we’d like to continue doing, and also what else we can do to achieve a greener future.
We sat down with ecobee’s CEO, Stuart Lombard, to learn more about the history of ecobee and where he is leading the company.
ecobee Citizen: Can you take us back to the reasons why you founded ecobee?
Stuart: Nearly 16 years ago, I was on a mission to reduce my environmental footprint. My family and I were going on vacation, so I attempted to program my thermostat to conserve energy while we were away. Unfortunately, my family returned home to Toronto to a shockingly cold house, which isn’t ideal, especially when you have three kids under the age of five!
We started ecobee with a very simple idea and an insight: how could we help people conserve energy, save money, and reduce their environmental impact in an easy and accessible way? The insight we had was that while there are many things people can do, like installing solar panels or buying an electric vehicle, there did not feel like there were many impactful choices for people that were easy and relatively low cost.
More than half of home energy use is for heating and cooling, yet the products in the market were dumb as a doorknob and difficult to use. We thought, what if we used technology, math and science, data like weather and energy prices, how much better could we do? And the answer is a lot. Collectively, our customers have saved 27.8 TWh of energy, enough to take all the homes in Los Angeles and Chicago off the grid for a year. We proved that a zero-carbon future can start at home.
Today, we remain focused on achieving a greener future, with a mission of improving everyday life while creating a more sustainable world.
ecobee Citizen: How did you manage to get the company remain focused on its Planet Positive mission over the years?
Stuart: I think this is the easy part. Most people want to do the right thing, we just have to give them the tools and make it easy. Having a planet positive mission is energizing and employees tell us it is the number one reason why they join ecobee. Who wouldn’t want to do meaningful work towards saving the planet? It’s the biggest challenge of our lifetime, but we believe that there is no challenge that human empathy and human ingenuity can’t solve.
We remain focused on achieving a greener future, with a mission of improving everyday life while creating a more sustainable world.
ecobee Citizen: What are you particularly proud of in terms of achievements related to sustainability?
Stuart: I am so proud of the team at ecobee. We went from a great idea to a world class team of over 600 employees that is helping millions of families reduce their environmental footprint in a meaningful way.
I am proud of the way we build or products: that we are bringing fair labour practises to our supply chain; that we are using less harmful components; that we are making our devices last longer while also being more recyclable at the end of their lives. I am proud that we have invested in the technology to help our customers save more and proved it with the largest third-party measurement and verification study ever performed on thermostats.
I am also very proud of our advocacy programs like Donate Your Data, a one-of-a-kind program through which our customers can donate their anonymized data for us to share with researchers all over the world who are doing amazing things – everything from learning how to build more energy efficient housing, to understanding how to help seniors live longer in their homes, to how indoor air quality impacts the spread of COVID-19. More than 200,000 ecobee Smart Owners have opted-in to Donate Your Data, creating a unique window into energy use in the home, and making it the world’s largest home energy efficiency dataset.
Another thing I am excited about is our unique position on privacy and security. We see ourselves as guests in our customers’ homes and our goal is to always treat them with respect so that we are always welcome guests. Unlike many others in the technology space, we see our customers’ data as their data. We never sell their data and always keep them in control. It is one of the core ways we are different from our competitors and doing the right thing.
Who wouldn’t want to do meaningful work towards saving the planet?
ecobee Citizen: A year ago, you talked to us about your future with Generac. What is new on that front?
Stuart: There is a lot of work being done on creating a platform that will allow all the products in our ecosystem to work together seamlessly to create 1+1=5 experiences for our customers and better outcomes for the planet. Connecting what is happening in your home with what is happening on your roof and on the grid allows customers to take advantage of cleaner, cheaper power. It allows more clean power to come on to the grid and it creates more resiliency in the grid. Just like decentralized internet communications created more ubiquitous and reliable communications, the energy products will create a more reliable and decentralized grid.
We’re working on some exciting projects that will work in magical ways, controlled by a central brain powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence that we expect to share more about very soon.
As for integrations currently available to our customers, the latest ecobee smart thermostats now officially integrate with Generac’s entire line of connected home standby generators, creating a single energy management hub for the home.
ecobee Citizen: What are the things that you would like to see ecobee focus on in the next few years?
Stuart: We have expanded our vision to create a home that delivers comfort, peace of mind, efficiency, and resiliency.
I am really excited about two things: ecobee Smart Security and the energy ecosystem we are building at Generac. Our security system is so important to give our customers peace of mind but also to give us context of what is happening in the home so that we can better automate their energy in way that provides comfort, savings, and resiliency. Multipurpose smart home devices offer more value so that you can buy less, and eventually cut down on consumption and e-waste. I am excited about the energy ecosystem that is expanding to include solar, storage, and more with Generac.
We believe that in the next ten years we will move from a world of expensive, scarce, dirty power to a world of clean, cheap, and abundant power. To get there, we need to develop world class solar and storage, but also intelligent appliances that understand what is happening in your home and on the grid and change the way they use energy to take advantage of the clean cheap power that is available.
Every time we interview Stuart or hear him speak, we feel energized about working towards a greener future, and more optimistic about making that vision a reality. To learn more from Stuart, follow him on LinkedIn, or read his letter from a CEO and his conversation with Aaron Jagdfeld, CEO of Generac from last year.
To learn more about sustainability at ecobee, visit our Sustainability page.
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