AT&T at a Glance
You cover more than 1,000 buildings. How big is your staff?
John Carillo: I manage 50 AT&T project-management and support employees and a team of alliance engineers, architects, general contractors, and specialty contractors who implement the work.
What are the specific challenges of infrastructure design and construction in the communications industry?
JC: There’s nothing magical about the industry. Whether it’s manufacturing or telecommunications, the goal of corporate real estate is to introduce the most efficient equipment that will make the workplace productive, safe, and save the company money. Each project must run the test of a life-cycle cost along with an energy-efficiency analysis.
How is the industry changing?
JC: Back in the day, we had huge switching buildings with telephone equipment that was analog technology. This equipment has changed due to wireless fiber optics and other sophisticated technologies. As a result, the equipment is becoming smaller and hotter and demands a greater amount of electrical power. That’s creating HVAC- and electrical-requirement challenges. We also have excess capacity of space, and the challenge is how we backfill this empty space. To some extent, empty space consumes operational cost. So, in order to save on energy cost, we must think about the most efficient way of providing cooling to high-density power-consuming telecommunications equipment. You must think about how to specifically cool the equipment and not the overall floor space.
How important is sustainable technology?
JC: Everyone talks about LEED, green, and being a good corporate sponsor through the sustainability effort, but at the end of the day, you must save operational cost, and much can be saved through energy conservation. We’re being very aggressive and have deployed solar energy, hydrogen fuel cells, lighting retrofits, and HVAC-control technologies.
We’re using an energy server manufactured by a company called Bloom Energy, of Sunnyvale, California. Commonly referred to as the Bloom Box, it’s a solid-oxide fuel cell that can use a wide variety of inputs—including liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons produced from bio-sources—to generate electricity on the site where it will be used. So we can convert natural gas into electricity, which is important on the West Coast, where electricity costs are high. By the end of this year we will have deployed several dozen Bloom Box installations.
What are some of the other cutting-edge technologies you’re employing?
JC: We have installed Smardt and Turbocor oilless, frictionless chillers. Evaporative cooling can also save a great amount of energy if the application of this technology is in the right environment. In some of our lab locations, we have also deployed diesel rotary UPS generator systems. Other technologies include high-density, in-row cooling units.
Are there any other trends you’re seeing in the industry?
JC: Over the last few years, the workplace office environment has changed drastically, partly due to the increased capabilities and reliability of smart- and mobile-phone technologies. At the same time, companies are continually looking for ways to reduce or optimize their real estate holdings, thus reducing their carbon footprints. The economic downturn during the last four years has produced a lot of unused office space. We are greatly reducing our office footprint, which saves operational and energy costs by providing the workplace on the road. Provide the technology, tools, and leadership support of the concept—that is the work that counts, not where you do it. This supports the employee’s choice to work from non-company locations such as customer premises or “third workplaces” such as Starbucks, where employees have access to wireless capabilities.
What do you see as the industry’s greatest challenge going forward?
JC: The economic downturn of a few years ago has put a damper on available jobs in our market, and many long-term employees have opted to work longer and delay their retirements in our industry, thus creating fewer jobs to upcoming talented and educated professionals coming out of college. Statistics have indicated that a very large portion of our aging workforce of professionals will soon start to retire, and we will be faced with a significant shortage of qualified professionals during the next five to 10 years. ABQ