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March 17, 2021

Healthy Air Episode #7

Episode #7
Buildings Need Reason and Purpose | Aaron Lapsley

In this episode, Aaron Lapsley talks about how the role of buildings is changing – the purpose they serve, the way that both owners and occupants view them, and what this means for the built environment industry as a whole.

Aaron works with designers, developers, owners, and operators of real estate to make the most out of technologies in and around their facilities. He helps them improve facility user experience, occupant health and safety, and building performance using data and digital solutions.

He is the Principal and Founder of System2 Consulting and worked previously as the Head of Digital Buildings Practice, Global Technology & Data Solutions at Cushman & Wakefield. His career includes work at Switch Automation, GPG Advisors, and Deloitte.

He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma.

Keeping air safe has never been more important. Now that we are in the next normal, it is critical that the air we breathe in shared indoor spaces is healthy and safe for continued occupancy. Are we ready to face this challenge and mitigate airborne exposure risk indoors? Welcome to Healthy Air, a podcast that talks about the future of buildings and how to keep air safe and healthy. Keep up with the latest industry trends, latest technologies, and regulatory changes with your host, Erik Malmstrom, industry experts, and the SafeTraces team here on Healthy Air.


  • An overview of Aaron’s background [1:15]
  • How Aaron got started in building design [2:00]
  • How Aaron’s multi-faceted background is affecting his view on the industry [5:36]
  • How split incentives are affecting buildings [9:37]
  • An overview of LEED and Reset accreditation [14:47]
  • Reducing the carbon footprint of buildings [21:34]
  • What trends in buildings will outlast the pandemic [25:39]
  • Where technology and data intersect with buildings [31:12]
  • The technologies about which Aaron is most excited [36:24]
  • What technologies Aaron believes will win over the next 20 years in buildings [42:15]
  • Aaron’s information diet and recommended resources [45:15]



“You can’t sustainably run a large commercial building without having a management team that is sustainability-focused and data-enabled.”

“I think the pandemic has made the invisible a bit more visible for people that have been paying attention.”

“Buildings need to work with reason and purpose. Most of the services within a building are technology-enabled in some capacity and affect technology in a serious way.”

“Many buildings aren’t helping the people that enter, whether it’s a bad user experience, making them sick or unhealthy, or not being optimally set up to prevent disease transmission.”

“The world is starting to move towards paying attention to real estate, particularly office buildings as a product.”

“One of the challenges with LEED is it’s just so disconnected from what actually happens in the real world.”

“I have a home monitor and look at it constantly. It’s so interesting to see you indoor air quality data and understand the effect your toaster has on your particulate matter.”

“You have to think through what the building needs to do and how it needs to actually function and operate in a better way. Start with the things people are annoyed with.”

“It’s more than how the building looks or what the cash flow statement is for the building. It’s about how the building actually functions and provides services for people.”

“A focus on sustainability, operational efficiency, health, wellness, and safety creates a better user experience that drives people to be excited about the built environment.”