Continuing our series of articles on Innovation we recently talked to Mike Zimmerman, Founder of BuildingIQ, about the approaching 3rd Step change in Building Energy Management (BEMS) technology.
The 1st step change in BEMS technology was of course the move to DDC controls. Since then we have seen a 2nd wave of innovation in analytics; where companies have started to extract useful data using open protocols and analyze it to help report on performance or identify operating issues. But the limitation of this approach is that it only provides a static “point in time” view of the building. It isn’t continuous or predictive. Additionally, any issues identified still require human intervention to address.
The 3rd wave of innovation will take this analysis concept even further to "optimization". It will be about real-time adaptive control of operations. Basically creating a learning system using predictive analysis algorithms, machine learning and Big Data. The system will combine an energy model of the building with external data such as weather forecasts and energy pricing signals to automatically write set points for the BEMS and execute Demand Response (DR) events.
BuildingIQ was founded in 2009 from technology out of Australia National Labs has already developed software to intelligently assess and control HVAC energy for commercial building portfolios. They claim to be able to achieve 10 to 30% HVAC energy savings and up to 20% peak load reduction during DR events.
Their SaaS (cloud based) software works with the buildings existing BEMS and utility demand response systems, incorporating weather forecasts, occupant comfort, utility prices and demand response signals into its optimization algorithms.
Investors have been quick to take notice. They have raised over $9m in VC funding from industry investors such as Aster Capital (firm sponsored by Alstom, Schneider Electric and Rhodia), Siemens Venture Capital and Paladin Capital Group.
In fact core to their business model is to actually partner with most of the major BMS manufacturers - Siemens, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric and Honeywell. A sensible approach, given the dominance and heritage estates of these companies, in this sector.
Memoori has written extensively about the market for connecting BEMS to Smart Grid - http://memoori.com/portfolio/connecting-smart-grid-with-bems/ - and this is also core to BuildingIQ's approach towards Building Optimization.
We asked Mike why current Demand Response (DR) programs have been slowly adopted.
"Basically because current energy management systems and practices in the commercial sectors were not created for a world with DR. The vast majority of the recent innovation from the industry has been directed outside of the building from leaders such as EnerNOC or Silver Spring."
"However in reality, as the Smart Grid develops and grid technology enables more dynamic pricing and operations, there needs to be a corresponding amount of innovation “Inside the Building” to provide for more intelligent, automated energy management. Inside the Building is the domain of vendors like Honeywell, Schneider Electric and Johnson Controls who, though large companies with broad offerings have difficulty moving very quickly to innovate on their own."
"To their credit, a number of these companies are now starting to focus on these problems either individually, through partnerships or acquisitions. AutoDR solutions are being rolled out in the market, but there are still limitations in commercial buildings due to complexity, the cost of DR technology and tenant comfort concerns. BuildingIQ aims to address each of these concerns to spur adoption of DR while delivering peak load reductions with energy efficiency in the same solution."
Mike Zimmerman is Founder of BuildingIQ Inc. Over the last 20+ years, he has worked as an executive, advisor or investor / board member to a wide range of venture-backed technology companies.
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For more information about Building Energy Management Systems, please take a look at our research on the subject - http://memoori.com/portfolio/connecting-smart-grid-with-bems/