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Smart Buildings

The buildings where we live, work, and play are getting smarter. Even our refrigerators can tell us if we need to buy more cheese while we are at the grocery store. But that’s not what this episode is about. Mostly not.

Today we are talking to David Unger, Founder of Sentient Buildings and an expert in the strategic implementation of IoT technologies that help to create smarter buildings. In an era of data overload, David discusses how his work aims to consolidate and simplify access to information that can improve the efficiency, comfort, and operations of buildings. He also explains why leveraging open communication protocols is the most critical piece to future-proofing your smart building. 

Episode Guests: David Unger

Dave Unger HeadshotDavid Unger is the founding CEO of Sentient Buildings LLC, a New York clean-tech startup that enables property owners and managers to conserve energy and reduce operating costs for multi-family, commercial and institutional buildings through a comprehensive Building Management System (BMS), while Maximizing the Value of Comfort™. With more than 20 years of experience growing technology-focused companies, David has been a pioneer in the use of internet and web-based technologies.


 

Episode Information and Resources

Want to learn more about Smart Buildings? Visit www.smartbuildings.nyc

To learn more about Sentient Buildings, LLC, visit www.sentientbuildings.com

Case Studies:

Case Study 1 – 600 Apartments Outfitted with IoT Baseboard Heating and Control Solution (Hudson Valley Property Group)

Case Study 2 – Building Automation System (BAS) and Wireless Radiator Valve Control System Installed in NYC’s Ninth Largest Office Building

Case Study 3 – Central Energy Monitoring and Control Platform Implemented for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

 

END OF SEASON 1!

This episode marks the end of our first season of the Buildings and Beyond podcast. We are already gearing up for season 2, so send us your feedback, questions, and ideas for future episodes to podcast@swinter.com! We plan to compile your questions and present them on a Q&A episode in between seasons. So stay tuned!


About Buildings and Beyond

Buildings and Beyond is a production of Steven Winter Associates. We provide energy, green building, and accessibility consulting services to improve the built environment. For more information, visit www.swinter.com.

Hosts

Robb Aldrich | Kelly Westby

Production Team

Heather Breslin | Alex Mirabile | Dylan Martello

 

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Episode Transcript

Kelly:                                  00:06                   welcome to buildings and beyond

Robb:                                00:08                   the podcast that explores how we can create a more sustainable built environment

Kelly:                                  00:13                   by focusing on efficiency, accessibility, and health.

Robb:                                00:18                   I’m Robb Aldrich

Kelly:                                  00:19                   and I’m Kelly Westby,

Robb:                                00:21                   building owner or manager in New York City? Smart buildings NYC is your Go-to guide to learn how to comply with the new codes mandated on all large buildings in New York City. Find out how the technology discussed on this episode can help your building get ranked higher by visiting www.smartbuildings.NYC.

Kelly:                                  00:40                   Well, it is bittersweet to be introducing the final episode of this first season of buildings and beyond. I want to thank you all for going on this journey of podcast development with us, or if this is your first episode, definitely go back and listen to all of the others, because we really had some great conversations this season. Today we are venturing a little into the beyond by having a guest outside of the immediate SWA team. David Unger is the founding CEO of Sentient Buildings, SWA and Sentient have a strategic partnership that I think speaks to the way that we see the term smart buildings and what it really means to us. We don’t think that adding more and more sensors to generate more and more data points in buildings is smart. Smart buildings live at the intersection of behavioral science, building science, and computer science. To put it a little more simply, smart buildings bring together building systems, technology and people, and what better person to bring the technology piece to SWA and to those listening to buildings and beyond other than David Unger.

Kelly:                                  01:42                   Dave founded an innovative web services company in the 90s and eventually moved to become chief technology officer of US energy group. This transfer focused his technology expertise on improving the built environment, which he has fully solidified at Sentient buildings. I’ll let Dave introduce you to who’s Sentient is and what they do. So let’s just dive right into the episode. So welcome Dave to the podcast. How’s it going?

Dave:                                 02:08                   Good!

Kelly:                                  02:09                   good. Thanks for coming out to our Norwalk office. So I sort of introduced the topic a little bit in the intro, but I wanted to get started with your take on what the term smart buildings means to you.

Dave:                                 02:26                   So smart building to me means a building that has a sense of awareness of its environment. a building that not only can sense what’s going on but can actually react to the environment in specific ways, whether that’s human controlled, or that’s fully automated at some level. But a smart building is a building that can actually react to its environment and control things and monitor and manage things in a way that aids in energy efficiency, aids in comfort and also monitors and protects against major issues that could cause problems in a building. So, a smart building is really a sense of awareness that the building has of itself It’s not an alive building in a lot of ways, but it’s, it’s, it’s a building that can react to its environment intelligently and do something

Kelly:                                  03:24                   great. I mean, we all are loving the plant walls that are cleaning our air. So the idea of a fully live building that’s aware of itself sounds pretty good. SWAs position, I would say in the thought of what a smart building means is that it’s tying together the technology aspect that I think you talked about just now. And then also with the building systems and with the people and tying these three things together, how do you think that technology relates to building systems and people?

Dave:                                 04:02                   Yeah, well, I mean technology is really the glue that basically can take a system and integrate that system with a communication network. And then expose that network through some type of interface to a person. Right? So the three pieces of a system in a smart building include those three things. Really you need a system that you’re monitoring, controlling or doing something with that you can imbue at some level of intelligence. And then you have the technology which includes the network. So whether that’s a wireless communication network or wired network or some way of getting data from point a to point B. And then back again from point B to point A, the network itself then can collect that data and expose that data in real time or near real time to an end user who can do something about it or, you know, monitor the building or collect data on the building or analyze the data or do something to affect the performance and operations of the building either in real time or over time.

Kelly:                                  05:03                   Great. And then you talked a little bit in the beginning about smart buildings and comfort and energy. What else can we do kind of with this technology other than monitoring energy?

Dave:                                 05:18                   In the case of smart buildings, it goes well beyond just monitoring the energy systems in a building. I mean, were talking about other systems, security systems, the elevators, the lighting, which does relate to energy, but there are many other systems that are in a building that are effectively smart and can be networked. And a real smart building brings all of these systems together into a single view, an integrated view of building operations. So you can see everything going on in the building, and the building can react. So for example, if you have a card key access system where you can tell who’s coming in and out of a building, then that affects your energy systems, right? Cause then you know, okay, I need to bring this building up to temperature because I have occupants, or my occupancy has gone down so I can reduce that. So there’s, there are a lot of things that you could do with a fully integrated system that includes much more than energy based systems. And that’s really what you have to drive when looking into this in a holistic way. Because the long-term view of this is, is all of the systems need to be integrated, not just the energy systems.

Kelly:                                  06:23                   Right. And that’s great. And I think the context now of ASHRAE 90.1 is requiring more monitoring and control of systems. And we also work with a lot of projects that do enterprise green communities and they require water monitoring. And so pulling all these things together in one unified space Sounds like really the best option.

Dave:                                 06:45                   Right? Yeah. So when people talk about energy, you usually think about just electricity or gas or even in New York City districts, steam. but in a lot of cases, you really need to look at water- in the usage of water. It’s a commodity. It’s a resource that we typically need to control and monitor and make sure we don’t use too much of. And it can cost just as much. Water sometimes can be just as big of an expense for building owner than the energy costs.

Kelly:                                  07:17                   So all of this sounds good. I’m on board. We’re going to have all of the buildings. You can outfit my home with all the smart sensors and it’ll control myself. and the refrigerator Will Walk to the store and buy my milk for me. That sounds great. Right. But I know we have probably some people that are not as on board as you and I. So Srikanth was on the podcast a few episodes ago and he mentioned, I don’t know that he said this word for word, but, that monitoring is okay, but control, he’s not so sure about. Audi came out with this commercial that was a little anti A.I., I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but we can link to it in the show notes. My mom refuses to drive her new Honda Crv because the lane assist is trying to tell her what to do. Right. So what, you know, you were talking a little bit less about smart homes and smart cars, but what are the top three concerns from building owners and how do you address them?

Dave:                                 08:17                   Well, I mean, the biggest concern from a building owner by implementing a smart building is how much is it going to cost me and is it going to, you know, deliver some type of R.O.I. at the end of the day or either it’s going to deliver more income by allowing them to increase rent or decreasing energy costs. But, you know, the biggest concern after that is, I want to make sure this is actually used, right? A concern of people that get involved in smart buildings, is I don’t want to be overloaded by information. Because the tendency with a lot of the building management systems over the years has been to fire out hundreds and thousands upon thousands of alarms. As you identify problems with the building. Well, you know, one person can only handle so much. And so you want to make sure that you’re tailoring and designing your smarter system to help people and augment people’s lives in a way that’s helpful, not that creates more work for them. So that is a real goal in designing smart buildings in a way that reduces people’s workloads. Cause that’s what that should be for. So that’s a typical concern? I haven’t really gotten the concern that I’m losing control, although, you know, from an operator standpoint, you know, they know their buildings better than anyone. So if you come in with a smart technology and say, Hey, this is going to solve all your problems, it’s going to be like a magic wand and the computer’s going to do everything and you just have to sit behind your desk and you know, throw your legs up and, you know, play solitaire- that’s not really, you know, what it’s designed for. I mean, you know, the real way to implement a smart building is to work with the operators, to work with owners and to figure out what’s that proper balance of, you know, too much information versus the right information. And then also working with the operators who know their buildings, they know their buildings well, to let them know it even better so if they could get insight that they never had before, that they really feel they need, that’s what you have to address in smart buildings.

Kelly:                                  10:33                   That’s great. And I love that you pulled the people piece there and I also loved one thing you said- smarter buildings. I think we’re always talking about smart buildings as almost a destination, but think about smarter buildings as always trying to be better. If you set up the framework, then you can then start to optimize one system at a time and you don’t need to be overwhelmed with all the data and the sensors. You can start and focus on one thing and then add in others as you have one system under control in your building.

Dave:                                 11:01                   Yeah, that’s, that’s true. I mean the point of going from smart to smarter is like the effect of learning. So if a building could actually learn it because it becomes smarter. So in thinking about these things, once you have a fully integrated system, right, where you could holistically integrate the security system like I mentioned before with the energy management systems and look at these things from those points of view, then you could start learning about the behavior and patterns that happen in a building. Like when do tenants typically change the temperature in a space? How many people are typically in a room before they start getting uncomfortable? You know, things like that. You start learning the behavior, and the building starts to, and the building could adjust and learn from those behaviors in a way that’s not intrusive. But you know, really understand, you know, gets an understanding if you will, of what’s going on. That’s goal is- is how do you get there. And you know, it’s going to be a constant over the next, you know, I would even say 20 years to get to a place that where you have a fully reactive building that can react to its environment.

Kelly:                                  12:06                   Right. And I want to dive in a little deeper to one of the things that you brought up, which is security. So connecting with the security system, I know that I’ve heard a lot of concern from clients about separating out the BMS- should not touch the elevators, should not touch other things. They’re worried about security concerns. I know there has been some situations in which BMS- building management systems- have been hacked, and elevators were controlled. How do you speak to that, maybe specifically for your service, but general as an industry?

Dave:                                 12:45                   Yeah, I look, I mean, we’re living in a dangerous world right now, right. Cyber security has become a major, major problem in this day and age where, you know, our infrastructure’s exposed right now in ways that are scary. Right? And so how do you protect against that? And you know, unfortunately the building management systems industry is notoriously been bad at protecting security. There’s been stories, going back, you know, now four or five years, you know, the target breach was because of the building management system that was unprotected. So there are issues where the building owners and operators don’t want their building taken over by hackers and their elevators like all brought up to the top floor and a fire lit in the bottom floor where, you know, suddenly their buildings completely exposed and it’s very dangerous situation.

Dave:                                 13:43                   So you have to really, as a smart building vendor in this day and age really think very carefully about how do you protect the building security as if it were a bank, right? Cause if you think about it, bank securities very strong too. Today, you don’t hear, you know, although it’s been done, but you know, you have to really protect the, the, the security systems those ways and that’s protecting the network, protecting the devices, making sure that your integration to different systems has some protection on it so that you can’t overstep your boundaries. And how do you create a system like that? You have to really think about it and build those security protocols into your network. Kind of think about it from the very beginning.

Dave:                                 14:33                   Every single communication point has to have some layer of protection or a deep layer protection on it so it’s not open to the outside world. You don’t have any security holes in the system. How do you connect your system to the outside world, to the cloud or to other mobile devices? What are you exposing? How do you audit that? You know, most importantly is like, if somebody does breach your system, how do you know what happened? So you need all of these protections in place to ensure real security and buildings. And then, you know, I think what should emerge over time are some real industry standards around this, just like it’s happening in the health insurance industry with Hipaa. There have been other, you know, security initiatives on the banking side, so building automation systems really need to embrace the security standards and implement them system wide. And then also they need to, you know, work with companies that are experts in breaching those systems so that you know where your holes are, because you don’t know what you don’t know unless you really do some thorough penetration testing is what it’s called, to know that you can’t break into the building and do some damage.

Kelly:                                  15:42                   Great. And so on your platform, are you running these tests regularly or how does that roll out?

Dave:                                 15:49                   you know, it comes down to cost, , and I can’t say that we’re doing it every time because it really depends on how secure a building owner needs the network to be. And then also, you know, on a lot in lot of these cases- the security, if you can manually override a system or if you have manual capability on the ground, so if somebody does try to do some damage to the building, like shutdown the heating plant or do something like that, as long as you build some protection there, then you can cut this off from controlling being controlled remotely. You know, you build those protections which are probably the safest way to protect against real damage and problems that may occur from a hack

Kelly:                                  16:32                   Right. I love what you said there about, you know, if something happens, then we have this resolution because I think that’s the same way we think about building science in terms of creating the proper wall. We make sure if water gets in well, then how will it get out of the wall? I think we have that same kind of alignment there. Right? If something happens, then what, what can we do? Right? Yeah. That’s great. So let’s get a little more specific. Are there some case studies, some buildings that you’ve deployed some of your technology in and, you know, give us the overview of what your technology means, what the different aspects of it are, and then a couple of examples of projects that you’ve been involved with

Dave:                                 17:16                   Yeah. So, you know, our goal as Sentient Buildings is really to deploy a wireless network infrastructure that is designed for Internet of things or devices to communicate over. So our real objective is to deploy that infrastructure. How do you get a wireless network infrastructure into a building that will allow you to monitor and control points where ever you want to put them without having to worry about running additional infrastructure once the networks in. That’s really the goal of what we’re trying to accomplish at Sentient so that we build a standards compliant wireless device network that will allow building owners to expand and grow so that they can add control points. They can add monitoring points as needed, as their needs change, right? Because their needs are not always going to remain the same. Tenants change, you know, building ownership changes, equipment changes, things change, right?

Dave:                                 18:13                   So how do you design a building network that can adapt to that change. And that’s what we do. And that’s, that’s our philosophy as a company. We know that things are going to change. And not only that, if you’re not standards compliant, you never want to lock your customer into a situation where they’re locked into a single vendor. And a lot of building owners, you know, through some of the bigger vendors, that happened to them over the years. You know, I’m not going to name names, but you know, there are a lot of big gorillas out there that lock their customers into a proprietary, building management systems. So our philosophy is how do you get standards compliant, wireless capable devices in a building.

Kelly:                                  18:58                   And standards compliant, let’s, let’s dive in a little bit. What do you mean by that?

Dave:                                 19:03                   Well just like there’s WIFI, which is a standard in effect, right? Ethernet is a standard, you know, there are standard communication protocols so that, you know, anytime you buy a car, a network communication card in your computer, you plug in an ethernet cable in your online. Well we have the same, you know, concept with when it comes to devices and buildings- that if you buy a thermostat and you put it in your building and you have this, you know, you, it’s a wireless network in the building, you can install that thermostat wherever you want to put it and it will communicate with the building network.

Kelly:                                  19:37                   Got It. It’s not like, Oh, I have ABC company’s wireless thermostats, so I need ABC companies, other module to then go to ABC company’s cloud. Right?

Dave:                                 19:45                   Right. You can select from a multitude of vendors that all comply with the standard so that you can get 10 different or 15 different types of thermostats, 20 different types of sensors, you know, so you have variety and you could go to different manufacturers, you know, at any point, so you’re not really locked in. Now WIFI is a standard. I brought that up as a wireless standard. It’s not a very good one when you’re doing device level building networks where power is a major concern in a lot of cases where you know, how do you power the devices? and you know, you don’t want to run 24 volt cable or get a transformer for every single device you want to put in a building. You need flexibility. So you want low power wireless device based networks. That will give you a tremendous amount of flexibility to wherever you want to put your sensors in your devices.

Dave:                                 20:33                   And also you want to think about, well I don’t only want to get data from the device, I want to send data to the device. So you need networks that can do both, that can transmit and receive, and that way you have full control. You have full flexibility. So once that networks in you have a real building that can become smarter, right? We talked about how do you make the building smarter? Well you can make the building smarter through making the software smarter and building in artificial intelligence, but you also make the building smarter by having a lot of flexibility where you can put points. Cause you don’t know everything you want to measure when you start a project and you find that out over time. So you need that flexibility so that you can reduce your costs. So that, that’s our just like, you know, talking about our projects, that’s where we start, right?

Kelly:                                  21:20                   So we want this flexibility. You like to provide these flexible pieces. So say I accidentally bought with the wrong guys a couple of years ago. We installed all these sensors and they are telling me they can only communicate, you know, amongst themselves. And I have to continue going to back to this vendor. Does that mean if I want to go with you, I have to rip out everything that I’ve already got installed in my building or how does that work?

Dave:                                 21:48                   Yeah, well a lot of times it means you have to put it in other infrastructure. so, if you went with a vendor that was proprietary, and I’m not going to name names, but there are a lot of them out there, that are proprietary, and you put that in and you know, that’s great. You now have to, if your thermostat network is based on this proprietary system, you’re only buying thermostats from that company and that’s, that’s it. Unless you want to put in a new network. and if you put it in the new network, then you have two different networks you have to maintain because you have to maintain the old thermostats and the new thermostats and nobody wants to do that. So you want a network that you put in, It’s a wireless network that can support multiple different types of thermostats. So that one day you decide, you know what, I need some more features on my thermostat, I need to upgrade. This is compatible with this standard. We use a few standards. The notion is a standard that we embrace. there’s also zigbee. There’s low row, which is now becoming a big standard out in the market. so these are all different standards that as a building owner, when you’re evaluating technologies, you should be looking at what standards the devices that you’re interested in getting support. Right. so when, so then relating that back to case studies, cause you know, I want to talk about some of the work that we’ve done in the area. Primarily we work in multifamily residential. We also do a lot of work in commercial office buildings. And then we’ve started to get involved in hospitality and in hotels. So those are really our three major areas where we’re deploying our networks. Our networks can, you know, be anything from a very simple monitoring system. Where we’re monitoring points that are on a boiler plant or we’re monitoring meters so that we can pull an energy data to an advanced system that we’re controlling the central plant. We’re controlling all of the terminal units in a building, bring that in all into a central system and allowing owners and operators to control those systems remotely and from their mobile devices.

Kelly:                                  23:54                   Right. And I want to break it down a little bit cause I know that we’ve talked a lot before, but about how there’s kind of three components really. There’s sort of the device- the individual thermostats, temperature sensors, whatever it is, there’s the network, and then they’re sending it to the cloud. Am I right in how I’m breaking that down?

Dave:                                 24:14                   Yeah. I mean there’s you know, the end what we would call the edge, right? You have edge devices. And then you know, you’ve got this new term called edge analytics, which we can talk about but edge devices are at the edge of your network. They’re in the tenant’s space, they might be in an apartment, they might be in an office space, they might be on a piece of equipment somewhere in a boiler plant. But those are, those are your edge devices. And then you need a gateway of some kind to concentrate all that data. So you can do your data collection and you could implement local control, because you don’t want to control from the cloud. You know what if something happens with your Internet connection and you lose connectivity to your building, you want the control of that building to happen continuously without network connectivity. It’s something you really need to understand when you’re looking at smart building systems- that there’s nothing that is cloud based that would impact the control of your building. And then you have those cloud connected controls, I’ll call them where you have them connected to the cloud, but they operate independently of the cloud. And then those kept Cloud Connect controls can send data up to the cloud. Now the cloud is a place of infinite computing resource, right? It’s where, you know, you can do a lot of number crunching, you can have a data warehouse where you can warehouse and store all your data and then you could use that to make intelligent observations on the data and intelligence. And so those are three components of a smart building. So once you bring something to the cloud, now you could start integrating other datasets and evaluating what’s going on in the building to the weather and to other things that may be happening in the building- to an event calendar

Kelly:                                  26:11                   dive in a little bit more into optimization rather than just sort of alarm management.

Dave:                                 26:16                   Right? And that’s where you get into analytics and you get into this process of continuous commissioning. So that you have a way of analyzing the data for fault detection for other problems. And then you could gain insight into long-term performance issues with the building through your analytics and cloud-based systems. And then, you know, another advantage of the cloud is then you could start bringing in data from multiple sites and you could bring that into a central view and provide an executive level view to owners and other people who are involved in the building so that they can at a glance get real understanding of what’s going on with all their billing assets.

Kelly:                                  27:02                   That’s great. Okay. Now our audience is saying, you talked about case studies three times and you still are talking really general. So let’s get into one of those.

Dave:                                 27:12                   Yeah. Okay so we did a project in the Bronx. The building is owned by Hudson Valley Property Group. It’s Keith and Kelly. I think it’s Keith Plaza and Kelly Towers on southern boulevard in the Bronx. And they have electric baseboard heaters. They had 1500 electric baseboard heaters and they had no monitoring, no control, no capability to see exactly what was going on with the heaters over the heating season and electric heat as you know, as an engineer is very expensive. So electric resistance heat is very expensive and they wanted to gain some operational control over that. The new management came in and they’re like, you know, we don’t want, you know, the heaters running nonstop during the heating season. People opening their windows while all electric resistance heat is running, there’s no worse condition than as an owner driving by an electric heated building to see all your windows open. Right. During December. Right. So they’re paying for all the electricity. So we installed that every baseboard heater controller that was on a wireless Mesh network. So every device, every heater, communicated with the next heater to form a mesh network that all communicated to a central receiver. Each receiver can communicate to up to 500 devices. So we had to split, you know, we had to have two receivers in the building there, thousand in one building and 500 in another. So what we enabled the owner to now do, is they could see every heater in their building. They can see the thermostats, we gave the tenants thermostats, so that they could set their temperature, the owner could set the limit of those thermostats remotely so they can adjust the heat and say, you know, we’re only going to provide up to 74 degrees in all of our apartments so that they could limit overheating. But more importantly what we were able to do there is, we were able to identify problems like where tenants were, you know, plugging in auxiliary heaters or opening their windows or putting their thermostat in the freezer. Which is, which is an issue which could happen. And so we were able to analyze data and use data analytics to say, we know that the heat has not been running, it’s 30 degrees outside, so the temperature in your apartment should be dropping yet it’s going up. Well that means that some other heater’s plugged in somewhere. Another, you know, example of the analytics that we’re running there is the, you know, the window’s open. So the heat’s been running nonstop constantly for six hours and it hasn’t gone up a degree. Right. So, you know, you’re, in both cases you have a problem that you can identify remotely with the system.

Dave:                                 30:11                   And at the end of every day we produce a report or you could log on online and get the report and just say, okay, these five apartments have this problem, this, these five apartments, have that problem. And then as a management, you can decide how you want to address it.

Kelly:                                  30:25                   Great. So we’re going from 1500 units or 1500 heaters. I can’t remember what you said. 1500 heaters. To then down to the five heaters that are really causing problems.

Dave:                                 30:36                   And then you have a good measurement of your average building temperature. And so what we’re doing this year, is a private project we’re implementing on top of that system. By the way we saved year over year, 23%, over the fire years heating season.

Kelly:                                  30:51                   And what was building management doing with the reports that you are giving them? Did you get any feedback on that?

Dave:                                 30:55                   Yeah, we got feedback. I mean, it was a process. I mean, you know, we learned a lot in working with the owners. Like we learned not to give them too much data, like really pair it down and give them like what are the top five offenders? Don’t give them all 50 of them. So you learn, you learn through the process so that they can, you know, have a set of data that they can easily work with. Right. So that was a learning experience for us in the process and working with the owners. And the other thing we determined by putting this project in place was we determined that you can actually control your demand in the building during heating season so that you can limit your demand with some intelligence so that you can rotate heaters off that are closer to set point for short periods of time. And then so that way you can shed load by 20%, So that you can do peak load shaving and manage your load a little bit and we’re going to be implementing that this season. So that was one project. We did another project in Astoria, Queens also on the heating system side. And then I’ll talk about a cooling system we did. This was a project that we worked in concert with con Ed on as an r&d effort, to control radiator valves like at the valve level to actuate the valves on steam radiators. Yeah. It was one pipe steam system. SWA was involved this year, we just did an orifice plate replacement there as well. But you controlling thermostatically the valves in each apartment, in each room. And so we had thermostats that were communicating wirelessly to the valves and also wirelessly to the building management system. We tie that into the boiler system so that all the thermostats can report whether or not there they were calling for heat. Right? So that way was a good way of determining if we have demand, is there a demand for heat right now, if all the radiators are closed and nothing’s calling, we’re shutting off the boiler. So, it was just a better way to control the building, without impacting occupant comfort. However, that building needs to have its risers insulated. Another thing that we discovered in this process, it’s great if you could turn off all the radiators, but then suddenly you’re heating your building just through your riser piping.

Dave:                                 34:27                   So what we did is we install the system to do peak load shaving. Same concept as we were talking about on the heating side. But you know, during the summer months from the peak period, from one, 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM, we analyze the load of all of the units. We had meters on every single air handler and we had a meter on the cooling tower, so that we knew the kw in real time load of all the systems. So we did a predictive load control system where we watched, as we started to approach peak, it started to shed. The system intelligently reacted and would shed the second stage of the compressors on a select group of compressors. And then we rotate so that they would rotate through these compressors. So you wouldn’t hold them off for any length of time that could cause a noticeable comfort issue. But you would do it just enough to get three to four kw per compressor out of the peak so that you could shave that load in this case, you know, 50 to 75 kw.

Kelly:                                  35:27                   Okay, great. And did you look at all at, you know, in that context we kind of have energy consumption versus, maybe cycling of the compressors. Did you look at all at making, you know, you had minimum run time on for the compressors and making sure that you’re not short cycling?

Dave:                                 35:45                   Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. We would monitor the short cycling so that we’re not, you know, turning the units on and off constantly and there’ll be some delay times on the, on off cycles. So yeah, we were intelligently looking at that and controlling that properly and we were doing it holistically as well. So that way you can also do with this system is, you know, you don’t want to bang on all your compressors at the same time at 7:00 AM when everybody, you know, when all the air conditioners kick on at the same time, you want to stage them. So you can, you can build in intelligence staging of these units so that you don’t have a system where you get overloaded and you get a load spike and you know, that causes a peak demand issue.

Kelly:                                  36:24                   That’s awesome. Well, I could talk for hours and hours about energy efficiency, but I like to kind of wrap it up with the question of if we invite you back on this podcast in five years, what are we going to be talking about then?

Dave:                                 36:36                   Well in five years we’re going to be working in the field of artificial intelligence and the systems are going to start to self optimize. We’re going to have enough data. I mean, a lot of this comes down to how much data you’re collecting and how much you can interrogate and then learn from the Dataset. So you know, in in five years my goal at least for the company and where we want to go is to build real artificially intelligent building management systems that can continuously optimize the system and so that it doesn’t necessarily need human intervention and constant, you know, watching.

Kelly:                                  37:13                   Right. Great. And then as a side Gig, if you could work on my refrigerator that gets the milk from the store, that would be great.

Dave:                                 37:22                   Yeah, I would be happy to. Yeah, we’ll get the smart Samsung Fridge refrigerator working in your house.

Kelly:                                  37:26                   Great, thank you. Well thank you so much for coming out and being on the podcast.

Speaker 5:                        37:30                   Thank you. Thank you for listening to buildings and beyond. For more information about the topics discussed today, visit www.swinter.com/podcast and check out the episode show notes buildings and beyond is brought to you by Steven Winter Associates. We provide energy green building and accessibility consulting services to improve the built environment. Our professionals have led the way since 1972 and the development of best practices to achieve high performance buildings. I’ve production team for today’s episode includes Dylan Martello, Alex Mirabile, and myself. Heather Breslin, thank you for listening and we’ll see you next week.