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What types of commercial buildings consume the most energy?



LED Lighting Supply identified by their principal use which types of commercial buildings consume the most energy using data from the Energy Information Administration. 
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Running a business isn’t just a time-consuming venture: It can eat up a huge amount of energy as well. Commercial buildings account for an estimated 18% of total U.S. energy consumption, costing around $190 billion annually. These buildings house industries including health care, food services, retail, education, worship services, public safety, and more.

Although personal residences have more flexibility to lower comfort to save money—think turning down the thermostat even in those cold winter months to save on your heating bill— commercial facilities are often expected to provide amenities to customers continuously, no matter the cost. This can include electricity-intensive air conditioning, heating, refrigeration, and lighting.

Electricity and gas are the main energy sources for commercial buildings, with electricity making up 60% of energy consumed, while natural gas accounts for 34%. Buildings over 100,000 square feet make up just 2% of commercial buildings in the U.S. but account for over one-third of total energy consumed across all commercial facilities, according to a Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey released in 2022.

Using data from the Energy Information AdministrationLED Lighting Supply identified commercial buildings by their principal use to determine which consume the most energy. The data is from 2018 and was released in December 2022.

The uses include space heating, cooling, ventilation, water heating, lighting, cooking, refrigeration, office equipment, and computing. It is important to note that although some uses have the highest overall energy use due to their prevalence within a certain industry, they do not necessarily have the highest per-building energy use.

Vacant retail shop fronts.

Mark Winfrey // Shutterstock

#13. Vacant buildings

– Annual energy use for vacant buildings: 5B kilowatt-hours (39K kilowatt-hours per building)

Even vacant buildings use a considerable amount of energy, often from keeping systems running that are necessary to keep the building functional. Around 40% of a vacant building’s energy output is used to heat the space, another 20% for cooling, and 10% for lighting. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when virtually all office buildings were left empty, many companies found that their leases legally bound them to keep heating, cooling, and other systems operating for a certain minimum of hours.

Fire truck pulling out of fire station.

Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#12. Public order and safety

– Annual energy use for public order and safety: 21B kilowatt-hours (263K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Fire or police station: 7B kilowatt-hours (122K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Courthouse or probation office: 5B kilowatt-hours (595K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Other public order: 9B kilowatt-hours (794K kilowatt-hours per building)

Around 35% of energy in a public order building is directed towards heating, and a further 10% each towards cooling, water heating, and lighting. In fire stations specifically, the kitchen, gym, laundry, and other appliances are used more than in a typical household, serving the round-the-clock staff that spends time there on-call. Apparatus bays where firetrucks are housed also require a substantial amount of heating. In police stations, telephone lines, computer networks, HVAC systems, and other electricity-powered systems are also kept running for extended hours.

Modern church facade.

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#11. Religious worship

– Annual energy use for religious worship: 27B kilowatt-hours (61K kilowatt-hours per building)

It’s no surprise that nearly half of a religious worship space’s energy expenditure goes towards heating. Many of these buildings are notoriously old, open, and/or drafty, meaning that insulation is poor. Oftentimes, high ceilings allow heat to rise far above occupants, requiring more energy to keep the space comfortable. Many particularly old spaces were built with outdated systems that are not energy-efficient.

Wide view of a car repair shop.

Memory Stockphoto // Shutterstock

#10. Service

– Annual energy use for service: 45B kilowatt-hours (52K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Post office or postal center: 5B kilowatt-hours (145K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Vehicle service or repair: 12B kilowatt-hours (44K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Vehicle storage or maintenance: 14B kilowatt-hours (38K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Other service: 14B kilowatt-hours (71K kilowatt-hours per building)

At least 50% of a service building’s energy is spent on heating, more than any other commercial industry. Lighting also makes up a significant portion of their energy, at nearly 20%. For vehicle service and repair buildings, garages and maintenance areas require large amounts of energy, although cooling energy can be cut down by using natural airflow from garage doors in the warm months. Lighting, ventilation, and welding and power equipment all require large amounts of electricity in these areas as well. In post offices, dock doors where trucks are loaded can result in poor insulation when not closed properly, resulting in inefficient use of heating systems.

View down a grocery aisle.

Kunal Mehta // Shutterstock

#9. Food sales

– Annual energy use for food sales: 54B kilowatt-hours (329K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Convenience store (with or without gas station): 19B kilowatt-hours (156K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Grocery store or food market: 34B kilowatt-hours (1.0 million kWh per building)

Food sales buildings have the largest proportion of energy used towards refrigeration, at nearly 40%. Though overall energy intensity is relatively the same between food sales and food service buildings, food sales buildings have a higher electricity intensity compared to natural gas. Such buildings tend to have extended service hours compared to other commercial buildings, upping their energy consumption.

Group of chefs working in a kitchen.

ZoranOrcik // Shutterstock

#8. Food service

– Annual energy use for food service: 61B kilowatt-hours (212K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Fast food: 18B kilowatt-hours (260K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Restaurant or cafeteria: 37B kilowatt-hours (214K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Other food service: 5B kilowatt-hours (120K kilowatt-hours per building)

Food service is one of the three highest energy-intensive industries. Unsurprisingly, it eclipses all other commercial industries in the proportion of energy that is dedicated to cooking, at around 40%. This can include food preparation meant for mass consumption, but not small-scale or personal preparation like vending machines, coffee pots, or microwaves.

Back view of movie theater audience and screen.

Gorodenkoff // Shutterstock

#7. Public assembly

– Annual energy use for public assembly: 87B kilowatt-hours (179K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Library: 7B kilowatt-hours (267K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Entertainment or culture: 17B kilowatt-hours (246K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Recreation: 30B kilowatt-hours (195K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Social or meeting: 26B kilowatt-hours (116K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Other assembly: 8B kilowatt-hours (397K kilowatt-hours per building)

Public assembly buildings expend nearly half of their energy use on heating and around 20% on cooling the space. Movie theaters tend to use higher amounts of energy for air conditioning, but perhaps less than expected for ventilation. Those large screens and booming sound systems also demand large amounts of electricity, although if enough people attend a film screening, it can actually be more energy-efficient than a single person watching alone at home.

Interior of a modern warehouse.

Roman Vyshnikov // Shutterstock

#6. Warehouses and storage

– Annual energy use for warehouses and storage: 95B kilowatt-hours (120K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Nonrefrigerated: 85B kilowatt-hours (108K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Refrigerated: 10B kilowatt-hours (2.8 million kWh per building)

In general, warehouses expend about 40% of their energy on heating, 20% on lighting, and 10% on cooling, although there are differences depending on whether the facility is refrigerated or nonrefrigerated. Refrigerated warehouses store perishable or sensitive food and medicine products, including produce, seafood, nutritional supplements, vaccines, blood samples, and/or cosmetics. They naturally expend a large amount of energy on refrigeration and are projected to grow in use in the coming years.

Staff in a busy lobby of modern hospital.

Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#5. Health care

– Annual energy use for health care: 96B kilowatt-hours (698K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Inpatient: 65B kilowatt-hours (7.6 million kWh per building)
— Outpatient: 31B kilowatt-hours (238K kilowatt-hours per building)

Inpatient health care facilities are among the most energy-intensive commercial buildings for both heating and ventilation, completing the trio (along with food service and food sales) of the three most energy-intensive industries overall. Between inpatient and outpatient facilities, fairly similar percentages of energy are used for heating and cooling, although outpatient facilities used proportionally more energy towards lighting and ventilation.

Health care energy consumption is largely dominated by heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, and running medical equipment. There are “strict air quality requirements for hospitals to maintain safety and comfort,” leading to extensive use of HVAC systems. Because hospitals run on a 24-hour basis, they also tend to dedicate more energy towards lighting and equipment than other industries.

Businessman at front desk of a hotel lobby.

antoniodiaz // Shutterstock

#4. Lodging

– Annual energy use for lodging: 100B kilowatt-hours (484K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Hotel: 46B kilowatt-hours (703K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Motel or inn: 9B kilowatt-hours (222K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Dormitory, fraternity, or sorority: 9B kilowatt-hours (268K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Nursing home or assisted living: 30B kilowatt-hours (788K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Other lodging: 6B kilowatt-hours (212K kilowatt-hours per building)

Lodging buildings dedicate fairly equal proportions of energy towards space heating and water heating—about 20% each—and slightly less towards cooking and ventilation. Hotels in particular can’t avoid using energy for nearly every amenity, including refrigeration, cooling, heating, cooking, lighting, gym equipment, pools, restaurants, bars, elevators, and office equipment.

Nursing homes, motels, and dormitories tend to offer the same amenities, albeit often on smaller scales. Because multiple people and families are residing in these buildings at once, it’s not just one refrigerator or computer working within a building, as is typical of residencies—it is often several working simultaneously, exponentially increasing energy use.

Empty school hallway with lockers.

legenda // Shutterstock

#3. Education

– Annual energy use for education: 128B kilowatt-hours (293K kilowatt-hours per building)
— College or university: 23B kilowatt-hours (385K kilowatt-hours per building)
— K-12: 96B kilowatt-hours (365K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Multi-grade school (any K–12): 14B kilowatt-hours (397K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Preschool or day care: 4B kilowatt-hours (49K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Other classroom education: 5B kilowatt-hours (151K kilowatt-hours per building)

A little over 40% of energy expenditures for education were spent on heating and around 10% on cooling. Computers, vending machines, and other appliances are often left on continuously. Schools are particularly bad at maintaining energy efficiency by keeping lights on in unoccupied rooms and hallways: One school in Massachusetts has had their building lights on for a year and a half straight.

Interior of a shopping mall with escalators.

Radu Bercan // Shutterstock

#2. Mercantile use

– Annual energy use for mercantile use: 180B kilowatt-hours (352K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Retail (other than mall): 71B kilowatt-hours (205K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Enclosed and strip malls: 109B kilowatt-hours (657K kilowatt-hours per building)

Mercantile buildings expend about a quarter of their energy on heating, though retail footprints located outside of mall environments tend to use comparatively more of their energy expenditure on lighting and ventilation. Malls use proportionally more energy on cooking, refrigeration, and water heating, possibly due to food courts and food vendors existing alongside shops. Other sources of energy use include both interior and exterior lighting (think of those large neon signs beckoning you to explore stores and sales), computers and tablets used at checkout, and water fountains and vending machines.

Elevated view of a busy open plan office.

Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#1. Offices

– Annual energy use for offices: 227B kilowatt-hours (234K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Administrative or professional: 126B kilowatt-hours (227K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Bank or other financial: 9B kilowatt-hours (193K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Government: 32B kilowatt-hours (251K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Medical (nondiagnostic): 5B kilowatt-hours (99K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Mixed-use: 50B kilowatt-hours (423K kilowatt-hours per building)
— Other office: 5B kilowatt-hours (69K kilowatt-hours per building)

Offices are the second-highest commercial users of computing systems, second only to computing-heavy data centers. Computing here can include the use of computers, laptops, monitors, and servers. The largest proportion of an office’s energy is spent on heating, ventilating, and lighting. Water heaters, server rooms, and some lighting fixtures are designed to operate continuously within office spaces to ensure uninterrupted functionality.

This story originally appeared on LED Lighting Supply and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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mesh conference goes deep on AI, with experts focusing in on training, ethics, and risk

The mix of topics is a major part of the appeal. So is the opportunity to have genuine conversations.



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The mix of topics is a major part of the appeal. So is the opportunity to have genuine conversations with senior leaders, and doers, across so many industries for two days.

Day one of the mesh conference was all about navigating innovation, privacy policies, and diversity in a tech-driven world, and day two was all about artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on media, marketing, business and society.

AI is everywhere, but this day hit different. 

“I sat beside a marketer this morning who said he came to mesh because he was interested in the topics, but that he also knew lots about the subject matter so he wasn’t sure how much he’d take away,” said mesh attendee, Sarah Coleman who travelled from Calgary to see mesh in Toronto. 

“But after a full day of talks, he said to me that he was totally surprised by the cross-industry perspectives shared, and he walked away from the first day with thoughts he had never considered. For me, that’s the biggest value of mesh and it’s why I travelled across the country for my second mesh conference this year.”

Day two opened up with a frank discussion about the training of artificial intelligence (AI) and data sources with Elena Yunusov, AI strategy and marketing leader with the Human Feedback Foundation. 

Yunusov recently started the foundation to crowdsource the human feedback layer that’s missing from private AI models. Private models will continue and make decisions we won’t agree with, she said, but open source initiatives offer the chance for more innovation and better-informed applications.

“We should have more say about how AI is shaped and developed,” said Yunusov. 

There are a handful of models influencing us in ways we may not understand. But the Human Feedback Foundation is a small, but mighty open-source project trying to make AI less toxic and more empathetic. 

Photo by DX Journal

Use human feedback to bring the human voice back into data

After opening remarks, Yunusov continued the AI discussion with Darnel Moore, founder and CEO of, who sees technology as a tool to connect with people. “We need a way for people to see each other and for businesses to see those people,” said Moore. 

Businesses just want to see the data point — not its context. But cognitive bias tells us that time, place, and situation influences people’s decisions, so the data means nothing without context. 

Moore said somewhere along the line people became a bug, rather than a feature, for businesses and that needs to change. 

“It’s important to get yourself out of the loop of data and buzzwords,” he Moore. 

It’s hard when you’re driving hard and fast not to attach yourself to buzzwords. But it’s not about pitching, selling, or moving your product — it’s about connecting with people.

Both Yunusov and Moore expressed puzzlement around the anxiety many people have around AI handling routine tasks. 

“Machinery is levelling human beings up from the mundane,” said Moore. People can now be more creative and learn in ways that weren’t possible before, he added.

“We have agency in this and the tools we never had before to get us to the next stages of that journey,” added Yunusov. 

We’re living through a bit of a reckoning in tech, she notes. Things are going to change, but how they change should be up to us. 

“Change is part of the human experience and we’re just doing it with different tools now,” said Yunusov. 

Photo by DX Journal

AI is a very divisive concept

Rika Nakazawa, global vice-president with NTT’s New Ventures and Innovation team, joined mesh fresh from COP28’s World Climate Summit in Dubai where there were two camps — one that believed AI is going to be the end of our ability to attain sustainability goals, and the other that thought it would bring the dawn of a new horizon. 

Amy Peck, founder and CEO of EndeavorXR, agreed. On one end of the spectrum, it’s the great saviour. We’ll be able to leverage it and achieve all our goals, she said. On the other end is the doom and gloom. 

Peck said business leaders need to start understanding data better, urging for bias-free data to be the foundation for AI training algorithms. We’re equal in our humanity, said Peck, so we must learn to embrace our differences rather than vilify them.

“AI is an overnight success, 80 years in the making,” said Nakazawa. “There’s nothing artificial about artificial intelligence.” 

It’s all made — binary code is mimicking our brain. 

“We have to retrain ourselves to work with AI and not just hand over our tasks to AI,” Peck said.

Photo by DX Journal

We needed to manage and prevent food waste

For this event, the mesh conference partnered with Second Harvest to ensure unused food served at lunch would not go to waste. Using Second Harvest technology, unused packaged lunches were donated to a local charity.

“It’s the eHarmony of food,” joked Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest during a fireside discussion. 

Nikkel was joined by Winston Rosser, VP of Food Rescue Operations at Second Harvest, who demoed the technology built to help conquer food insecurity and food redistribution.

Rosser explained that the app connects a variety of donors, from small retailers to major grocery stores, with local, non-profit charities who need food. Before the platform was built, huge trucks were sent to pick up 20 lbs of food from a grocer and take it across the city — an option that was not sustainable. Now, donors can easily connect with one of more than 61,000 charities via the platform.

Rosser also shared some startling stats:

  • 58% of all the food produced in Canada is lost or wasted, mostly ending up in landfill.
  • 3.9 million Canadians are food insecure.
  • Only 4% of food businesses were donating food.

Since the launch of the app, Second Harvest has flipped everything on its head. In 2016 the organization rescued nine million pounds of food, but after the app was deployed, that number skyrocketed — in 2022, nearly 75 million pounds of food was rescued in 2022. Last year Second Harvest kept food worth $234 million out of landfill. 

When asked why there’s so much food waste to begin with, Nikkel offered a sober response: “We don’t value food,” she said, adding that we’ve commoditized food to the point where we don’t value it like we used to. An example: many people will buy food in a two-for-one deal even if they don’t need it, and oftentimes it’s simply thrown out.

Photo by DX Journal

Adoption requires sponsorship within the organization

Afternoon discussions on day two of the mesh conference also looked at laggard industries, and professionals who can be resistant to change.

Colleen Pound, founder and CEO of Proxure, and Mary Jane Dykeman, managing partner at INQ Law, talked about the difficult task of integrating AI in law and healthcare — two industries that can be averse to technological innovation.

“Their aversion creates a lot of white space to work in,” said Pound, adding that progress looks like evolution rather than revolution. 

Dykeman agreed, adding that change in situations like this often takes a foothold when a series of low-risk initiatives are the starting point. Ultimately, they can lead to larger transformations.

In addition, privacy and data security are major issues for both industries that need to be managed first, Pound said. Data management is the starting point.

“Better data and better processes drive better business outcomes,” Pound said.

Photo by DX Journal

AI is what you make it

The day’s closing panel included a conversation on AI in media, featuring mesh co-founder and media pundit, Mathew Ingram.

Ingram joked that he would be terrified if he was starting his journalism career today. As the chief digital writer for the Columbia Journalism Review, Ingram noted that distributing information is easier today, but distributing disinformation is also easier.

“The quality of the disinformation doesn’t matter,” Ingram said, saying people believe disinformation because they want to believe it. 

“A nine-year-old could think of a more plausible conspiracy theory than some of the ones I’ve seen people believe,” he said. 

Chris Hogg, president and founder of the content marketing firm Digital Journal Group (DJG), said he sees B2B content marketing rolling back to what high-quality journalism used to offer. Hogg said success can now require businesses to produce less content, and instead focus on quality and distribution to stand out and drive results.

The fireside discussion also looked at the risks AI poses to the media industry. 

AI may not always be able to make things better, but it has great applications as a technology to support journalists. 

“It’s a tool that you can use and do things that help you and are valuable,” said Ingram, noting that transcription, story idea generation, and automating mundane tasks are big benefits offered by AI.

While there are considerable risks with OpenAI’s accuracy, deep fakes, and fake AI content, Ingram said the technology is still important.

“I’m a big believer in the power of individuals to change things,” he said. “There are things we thought would be inconsequential, but have changed the world, for better or worse.”

Join us next year in Calgary for the mesh conference, June 11-12, 2024. The two-day event then returns to Toronto the week of October 21, 2024.

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mesh conference hits Toronto this week — here’s what’s in store

This week, innovators and digital transformation leaders from across North America will gather at the Symes in Toronto for the mesh conference.



The mesh conference speakers
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This week, innovators and digital transformation leaders from across North America will gather at the Symes in Toronto for the mesh conference. With a focus on four threads — business, media and technology, society, and marketing — mesh will connect, share, and inspire others to think about changing how we think, organize, operate and behave.

The mesh conference differs from your typical transformation and innovation event in part thanks to two simple rules: no slide decks and canned presentations, and no pay-to-play sessions. The result? Lively sessions where the audience is encouraged to engage with speakers throughout. 

The theme for this edition is “Human-powered, tech-enabled.” Speakers and attendees will explore the pivotal role of technologies in augmenting human capabilities to improve workplace diversity, enhance competitiveness, and even turn back time on human-induced environmental damage through “de-extinction”. 

The full mesh speaker lineup

Over the course of two days, more than 20 speakers will take part in the Toronto event on December 6-7, 2023. The full run-of-show, with speakers and sessions, includes:

mesh conference
Dr. Michael Geist (Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law, University of Ottawa) and Tyler Chisholm (clearmotive marketing)

Canada’s digital policy has gone off the rails. What should the engaged community be doing?

Dr. Michael Geist (Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law, University of Ottawa) will join Tyler Chisholm (clearmotive marketing) to discuss the Meta ban on news, Google’s newly announced search policy around news (backed by $100 million for the industry) and podcasting regulations. Dr. Geist will explain why he has described the law as a “total policy disaster” and an “epic policy blunder” by the government. On the heels of his testimony before the CRTC, he’ll share his insights on what we might expect next and what engaged communities should be doing. Gain a greater understanding of the policy landscape and its impact on how we live and work. 

Marissa McNeelands (Toast) and Amber Mac

Leveraging AI to create a more diverse and inclusive tech industry

Marissa McNeelands (CEO of Toast) will be joined by Amber Mac to discuss how her company works to eliminate gender bias in tech hiring. TOAST, Canada’s first female-focused talent partner, uses a unique AI-driven recruitment tool to help organizations diversify their tech teams and support women in tech careers. This session will explore the role that data and algorithms could play in fostering a more inclusive workforce.

mesh conference
Natalie Black (Mia), Liberty White (CHOZEN MEDIA), Prieeyya Kaur Kesh (Mia), and Anne-Marie Enns (Mia)

AI, Creativity, and Inclusivity: Empowering Tomorrow’s Marketing Leaders

This panel explores how AI and creativity can foster economic empowerment through tech skills training and career growth. The panel will delve into the impact of AI on marketing, the importance of diversity and inclusivity in its design, and the role of continuous education. The session aims to understand economic empowerment through tech skills training, career growth, and a nurturing environment. Features Natalie Black (Mia), Liberty White (CHOZEN MEDIA), Prieeyya Kaur Kesh (Mia), and Anne-Marie Enns (Mia)

mesh conference
Dana O’Born (Council of Canadian Innovators), Tracey Bodnarchuk (Canada Powered by Women) and Stuart MacDonald (Narrative Fund)

Innovating for Canada’s Competitive Edge

Join Dana O’Born (Council of Canadian Innovators), Tracey Bodnarchuk (Canada Powered by Women), and Stuart MacDonald (Narrative Fund) as they discuss the future of Canadian competitiveness through the lens of innovation and transformation. This session will explore the technology and energy industries and why innovation is a team sport. Looking at both growing and transitioning sectors, they will explore how Canada can leverage its strengths and overcome challenges to maintain a competitive edge in the global market and create a sustainable, prosperous future. 

mesh conference
Ben Lamm (CEO of Colossal) and Chris Hogg (mesh conference / DJG / Digital Journal)

Why ‘de-extinction’ is vital to fighting climate change

Join Ben Lamm (CEO of Colossal) and Chris Hogg (DJG) for a riveting discussion on de-extinction and its role in combating climate change. Could the woolly mammoth, the Tasmanian tiger, and the dodo bird be agents of change? Learn about Colossal’s groundbreaking work in reviving extinct species and how this contributes to biodiversity restoration. We will delve into the technology behind halting extinction, preserving animal DNA, and reversing human-induced environmental damage. Explore how de-extinction can restore lost ecosystems, increase biodiversity, and contribute to environmental sustainability. This session promises to spark insightful discussions on the future of biotech and environmental conservation. 

Darnel J. Moore ( and Elena Yunusov (Human Feedback Foundation)

AI in Marketing: Magic Wand, Double-Edged Sword or Pandora’s Box

Darnel Moore ( will be joined by Elena Yunusov (Human Feedback Foundation) to explore customer marketing strategies in the context of AI. We will delve into how AI can personalize content at scale and analyze customer behaviour while highlighting the importance of human insight and intervention in marketing. Have we crossed the line when the computer tracks, predicts and influences customer behaviours? Where and when is it best to deploy machine learning and AI in your marketing strategy? At what point in the process is it still best for humans to drive the process? How do we ensure that AI supports the customer journey and that the tools we deploy do not undermine an authentic, transparent relationship? Join us as we aspire to find where the balance is best placed between AI tools and human intention, avoid repeating the mistakes of social media and aim to harness the power of AI responsibly.

mesh conference
Amy Peck (EndeavorXR) and Rika Nakazawa (NTT).

The Almighty AI: Friend or Foe for the Sustainability Agenda?

While headlines are dominated by the thrill and alarm of the rise in Artificial Intelligence applications and utility across industries, they have overshadowed another existential hot topic: Sustainability and ESG. This fireside chat will examine AI’s role in the Sustainability agenda for communities, businesses, and national states, and in what ways leaders across sectors are taking action today for impact tomorrow. We might even imagine new kinds of futures where artificial and collective intelligence collide in this unique chat forum. Features Amy Peck (EndeavorXR) and Rika Nakazawa (NTT).

mesh conference
Lori Nikkel (CEO, Second Harvest), Winston Rosser (VP, Second Harvest) and Mark Evans (Marketing Spark)

Amplifying Community Actions: Case Study of the Second Harvest Food Rescue App

Lori Nikkel (CEO of Second Harvest) and Winston Rosser (VP, Second Harvest) will join Mark Evans (Marketing Spark) to discuss their innovative approach to combating food waste and insecurity, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. They’ll share how their technology platform has facilitated partnerships between food donors and non-profits, enabling them to scale the redistribution of surplus food from coast to coast to coast. Learn about the increased efficiency that allowed them to connect 5,600 donors with 3,400 non-profits–rescuing 24 million pounds of food, averting 79.3 million pounds of greenhouse gases, and saving 13.2 billion litres of water in the last year alone. 

mesh conference
Colleen Pound (Proxure), Mary Jane Dykeman (INQ Law) and David Potter (Vog)

AI & Procurement: The Intersection of Innovation, Risk and Law

Join Colleen Pound (CEO of Proxure), Mary Jane Dykeman (INQ Law) and David Potter (Vog) for an enlightening session on the transformative role of AI and technology in professional services. They will delve into how these tools are levelling the playing field, particularly in procurement and legal services. Colleen, with her expertise in automation and predictive analytics, will shed light on procuring AI solutions. Mary Jane, a seasoned health and data lawyer, will discuss the legal and risk management aspects of AI adoption. This session promises a rich blend of insights from the tech startup and healthcare sectors.

Mathew Ingram (Columbia Journalism Review) and Chris Hogg (mesh)

What the chaos at OpenAI, misinformation, and fake AI journalists mean for our future

Join Mathew Ingram (CJR) and moderator Chris Hogg as they explore the chaos that has been the world of AI this year. From executive shakeups, to fast-vs-slow AI, to misinformation and deepfakes, this session will explore the current state of AI and what it means for our future.

Digital Journal is an official media partner of the mesh conference. Learn more and get tickets to the mesh conference, happening December 6-7 in Toronto, at

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AI is taking the world by storm — unless you’re in finance, Gartner survey finds

61% of finance leaders aren’t using AI and Gartner explores why in their latest survey.



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We’ve seen plenty of studies, industry updates, and tech investments pointing to an AI revolution in virtually every industry, especially IT and customer service. 

But one Gartner survey shows a lag in AI adoption by the finance industry. The technology research and consulting firm conducted a survey of 130 finance leaders and noticed “limited” AI implementations:

“Despite AI’s potential, most finance functions’ AI implementations have remained limited. As they begin to chart out a plan for how best to prioritize that additional investment, CFOs should partner with their finance leadership teams to compare their current progress against their peers’ and identify concrete recommendations from early adopters on how best to accelerate AI use in their function.”

  • Marco Steeker, Senior Principal, Gartner Finance Practice

Here are a few highlights from the report:

Most finance leaders using AI are only in early stages

Gartner found that only 8% of finance organizations are using AI in production, which is much less than the 20% in other areas like HR, real estate, and procurement. This speaks to finance being over two times behind in AI use compared to the rest of the departmental functions. Additionally, a mere 1% of finance leaders say they’re in the scaling phase.

Finance leaders prioritize other initiatives over AI

The survey asked respondents why they haven’t used AI in primary finance functions, and the majority of answers included these four reasons:

  • Lack of technical capabilities
  • Low-quality data
  • Insufficient use cases
  • Other priorities

The latter reason felt the most problematic within finance leaders’ perspectives: 

“What this perspective underappreciates is that AI can be a critical enabler of finance leaders’ “other priorities,” such as more dynamic financial planning or close and consolidation efficiency.”

  • Marco Steeker, Senior Principal, Gartner Finance Practice

A recent Dye & Durham report suggests AI could help stabilize the financial sector as interest rates and economic indicators sway by offering efficiency, cost reduction, and accuracy — but the hesitancy remains. Their report also found that a majority of skilled professionals, including lawyers, doctors, and financiers, express discomfort with incorporating AI into their services. 

Existing AI use in finance varies across different functions

The Gartner survey found that finance departments don’t use AI for one main function across the board. Instead, it’s use cases are varied and include: 

  • Accounting support
  • Anomaly/error detection
  • Financial analysis

Learn more about the Gartner survey here

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