The Environment+Energy Leader 100 is an annual list that recognizes the environment and energy “doers” who break trail in creating new solutions, programs, platforms, best practices and products to help their companies – or other companies – achieve greater success in commercial and industrial environment and energy management. E+E 100 Introduces… is an ongoing series that will feature one Honoree from 2022 each week. See the complete list of 2022 Honorees here.
Meet Chuck Hansen, president and CEO of Electro Scan Inc., where his key responsibility is to “satisfy his customers’ needs.” Since Electro Scan offers a disruptive technology that replaces much of the traditional ways we have been inspecting and certifying underground pipelines to ensure sustainability and maximize a pipe’s remaining useful life, much of Chuck’s day-to-day activities involve making water utilities and energy companies aware of the limitations of doing things the “old way” and benefits to the environment and the bottom line in adopting new ways of achieving underground resilience.
Tell us about your biggest work challenge. How are you addressing it?
Chuck Hansen: As coastal cities experience continued rising tides, and as climate change shifts weather patterns to increase the likelihood of mega-drought conditions and atmospheric rivers that cause major flooding, our underground infrastructure can no longer tolerate poor installations, repairs, or rehabilitation projects that deliver pipes that cannot be certified as watertight.
Did you know that no worldwide standard currently exists that requires pipes to be watertight?
Developed and maintained by major construction firms and contractors, standards of installation and inspection have allowed lenient standards of approval – in many cases, simply requiring visual or camera-based inspection.
Rather than relying on subjective human-based assessments, a new class of machine-intelligent sensors and probes are required to independently determine long-term governance, stewardship, and sustainability of our infrastructure — exactly the kind of technology platforms that Electro Scan Inc. is bringing to the market to address water scarcity & security.
Are there others you work with you’d like to point out as those who are helping make your organization a success?
CH: Mike App, Electro Scan Inc. vice president of worldwide operations, and Brad Weston, managing director of Electro Scan (UK) Limited, deserve much of the credit for sweeping adoption of our machine-intelligent cleantech solutions.
Mike App’s experience in trenchless technologies, i.e. rehabilitating pipes without digging and replacing, saw how pipeline renewal programs didn’t necessarily ensure residential homes will not get flooded after pipes were relined. Coming to Electro Scan, Mike has spearheaded over 1,000 certification tests covering nearly 50 suppliers, finding that some pipes might leak more after rehabilitation due to poor re-openings of customer tap connections. This has driven smart utilities to change their acceptance criteria for new and relined pipes, disappointing major players in the trenchless market active since the early 1970s.
Brad Weston’s experience in England, especially in dealing with Ofwat regulatory requirements and Asset Management Plan (AMP) 7 challenges, has spearheaded major rethinking in the UK water sector. Weston’s leadership in pressurized pipe assessment led to Electro Scan winning the Petronas Tech Challenge for underground pipe assessment, bringing Electro Scan squarely in the middle of the Environment+Energy nexus, not bridged by any other company in the pipeline space.
For those companies looking to bring innovative environmental or energy resilient solutions to the market, be careful to understand its value proposition. In the last five years over a dozen companies began offering artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to reviewing video-taped pipe assessments; however, since visual inspection only sees the inside of pipes (i.e. can’t tell superficial cracks from leaks, joints that are watertight through the bell and spigot, or customer connections that are leak-free), new approaches applied to antiquated techniques don’t really delivery the promised benefits. Don’t be the flea on the back of a dinosaur. In technology, just because you can does not mean you should.
What trends do you expect to see in the market in the next few years, and how can the industry plan to face them?
CH: Last month, Stanford University announced that the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences will become the new School on Climate and Sustainability, where my daughter Sonja Hansen is expected to be one of the first graduates as the school plans to launch fall 2022.
Influencing the leaders of tomorrow with global challenges will be a multi-generational effort.
No longer merely lip service, climate change and cleantech are now at the forefront in corporate boardrooms, Environment, Sustainability, and Governance (ESG) private equity, and venture capital funds.
But as seen from COP26, meaningful and actionable plans are still needed to be formulated, financed, and executed
Tell us about a favorite hobby or passion that has had an impact on you and your work.
CH: I think my hobbies may be a bit extreme. I’ve played the baritone sax since high school and have my own recording studio. But when my schedule opens up and one of my favorite bands is nearby where I’m working, I like to drop in and play. Playing on stage with Tower of Power over a dozen times, you realize that these are professional musicians that gig nearly 100 nights a year and don’t need to share the stage with an amateur. So performance preparation, like a lot of things, is a must.
Many people enjoy golf. As a member of Clint Eastwood’s Tehama Golf Club, I just played my third Clint Tournament, which requires almost six months of preparation for these three-day events, in addition to playing in the band at the Saturday night parties, many times with the likes of Kenny G, Huey Lewis, or Toby Keith.
Don’t even get me started talking about maintaining my pilot’s Instrument rating….
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CH: Thank you to the E+E Leader’s team for highlighting interesting personalities and their work in this space. Congratulations on your contributions by leading this dialogue and being a catalyst for innovation.
Learn more about Chuck Hansen:
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