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District Energy System

Brian Taylor

DES Board Vice-Chair

Brian TaylorBrian Taylor is a Commercial Real Estate Broker with Karr Realty where he serves the Nashville area with a focus on downtown properties and development. Brian has been in the real estate business for 8 years. Brian also runs a small business consulting practice focusing on reducing fixed costs and energy consumption.

He also serves the Nashville community as a current or past member of the following boards: Green Hills YMCA, The District Downtown, Greater Nashville Association of Realtors and is a 2005 Graduate of Leadership GNAR. Brian serves as Vice Chair of the Metro Nashville Beer Permit Board and has served on various Chamber of Commerce Committees. He was a founding member of YP Nashville and is the immediate past chair of the YP Nashville Advisory Board. Brian is also the immediate past chair for Young Leaders Council and was awarded the 2011 Young Leader of The Year award by the Young Leaders Council.

He is President of the Howell Park Homeowners Association located downtown. Brian is a past advisory board member for Nashville Emerging Leaders and former board member for The Phoenix Club of Nashville.

Brian is a native Tennessean. He grew up in Savannah, TN as the oldest of four children. As member of Nashville Triathlon Club, he has competed in triathlons and duathlons of various lengths across the state.

Brian has a BBA (1992) in Economics and Finance from Middle Tennessee State University.

Taylor joined the Metro DES Advisory Board in 2009 and has been a great asset, using his economics and finance background to help guide the direction of Metro DES. We recently caught up with Taylor to discuss his involvement with Metro DES as a member of the Advisory Board.

Q: You were appointed to the Metro DES Advisory Board in 2009 by Mayor Dean. Prior to being appointed, did you know anything about district energy systems, or was it all new to you?

A: I was familiar with DES and understood its function and purpose, but was quite surprised at the overwhelming efficiencies and cost savings that DES provides its customers.

Q: How has your economics and finance background helped you as a member of the Advisory Board?

A: A good understanding of simple economics – supply and demand and economies of scale. The staff and management team at DES do an outstanding job of watching the markets, keeping a close eye on the costs of energy, and utilizing their experience and expertise to hedge current and future materials and energy cost. This ultimately creates greater economies of scale for DES customers.

As board members, we are challenged with the task of understanding why management and staff make the decisions they make, and ensuring that the end users continue to reap the benefits they expect and that the DES facility operates within its contractual obligations.

Q: Why do you think district energy systems, like the one in Nashville, have yet to be adopted by most large municipalities, with the exception of a few cities like Austin, Seattle and St. Paul? As a Realtor who occasionally helps people buy, sell and lease properties in downtown Nashville, do you think the service DES provides to some residential properties is important from a buyer’s perspective?

A: The cost of the infrastructure for a system like DES has to be the primary reason more cities haven’t adopted the DES model. Our system has been in place for almost 40 years, and includes almost 16 miles of underground piping and close to four miles of direct-bury and/or tunnels. The cost of installing this today would be astonishing. Thankfully, four decades ago, our city leaders had enough foresight to create what is a huge benefit for our downtown community today.

The DES benefits for a residential development are directly associated with heating and cooling construction and with operating costs. In areas outside of downtown, developers have to plan for significant costs associated with in-house HVAC systems. A downtown developer, on the other hand, has the ability to shift those costs to other things that make a development an attractive place to live, like user-friendly green spaces for residents. Or it can simply pass along the savings to homeowners. The ability to heat and cool your home using DES energy also creates a much more environmentally friendly impact.

The cost is enormous for office building developers to construct and provide an in-house energy source. DES provides an overwhelming benefit as its cost to construct, and thereby provide the same heating and cooling, is significantly lower.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge that Metro DES will face over the next year?

A: The plant is very efficient, and as I stated earlier, DES management and staff diligently remain on top of the issues, both locally and nationally, with regard to energy costs and other related operating matters. Maintenance is an ongoing issue with a system of pipes and tunnels of this age, but the largest issue coming up this next year is bringing the Music City Center online. The staff and management team have spent a great amount of time planning, preparing and ensuring that DES is ready for the addition to the system, which will bring the facility much closer to full capacity. But MCC will operate at much more efficient levels by being on the DES system.

Q: As a member of the Nashville Triathlon Club, you’ve competed in triathlons and duathlons of various lengths across the state. What’s the best advice you would give to someone considering competing in one of these events?

A: Have fun and find someone or a group of likeminded people to train with. Swimming, biking and running by yourself can be, to say the least, very boring, lonely and, quite simply at times, not very much fun. I had a great group of triathletes to train with on a regular basis, which not only provides someone to talk to on those four-plus-hour rides, but the motivation that Nashville’s triathlon community provides is amazing and never-ending. I’ve witnessed friends accomplishing feats they never thought they could all because they had a support team of family, friends and fellow triathletes to push them and be there beside them along the way.