CSIRO technology helps cut building energy consumption

Tuesday, 01 December, 2009

The Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, recently announced that in 2010, all buildings over 2000 m2 in Australia must publicly disclose their energy efficiency whenever they are sold or leased. This prioritises energy efficiency with building owners and occupants to ensure their buildings are as energy efficient as possible. That provides a significant incentive for building owners and tenants to look to experts, including from within the electrical industry, to assist with optimising the energy efficiency of their buildings.

A software system developed by CSIRO that uses sophisticated mathematical algorithms to actively and continuously optimise a building’s energy management control systems to achieve substantial reductions in energy usage promises to be that vital tool building owners and occupants will be looking for.

This system is now being commercialised as the ‘BuildingIQ Energy Management System’ under license by BuildingIQ Pty Ltd. As a result, BuildingIQ software promises to help cut a building’s operating expenses and improve its official National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) star rating.

The technology is the result of over 15 man-years of work by scientists at CSIRO’s Energy Transformed Flagship in Newcastle, NSW.

BuildingIQ is backed by Sydney venture capital firm Exto Partners and founded by Michael Zimmerman, a former venture capitalist and technology executive.

BuildingIQ was launched in Sydney, in November, with its first installation in partnership with Investa Property Group, one of Australia’s largest owners of commercial real estate and a global leader in innovation and sustainability.

BuildingIQ CEO Michael Zimmerman said interest from building owners and property fund managers had been very strong: “Owners want energy management initiatives with strong near-term ROI profile and limited capital requirements, so our solution is attractive. The potential to increase a building’s NABERS rating when there is such a heightened focus from investors, tenants and the government on environmental initiatives is adding to the interest.”

A trial of BuildingIQ in 2008 at the CSIRO’s 4.5-star rated Newcastle Energy Centre achieved cost and energy savings of up to 30%.

Investa’s General Manager of Sustainability, Safety & Environment, Craig Roussac, said he was excited about the potential for BuildingIQ to enhance occupant comfort while also delivering environmental benefits and cost savings: “Investa is always looking for opportunities to collaborate on new technology that delivers value to our investors and tenants. BuildingIQ is unique in its potential to maintain or improve tenant comfort while improving energy efficiency. We are looking forward to seeing the results of this initiative.”

The initial focus for BuildingIQ is HVAC systems, which consume up to 60% of total energy in commercial buildings. In addition to the building management control system software, BuildingIQ has an add-on called ComfortIQ, which allows tenants to provide real-time feedback on comfort levels to the building managers and the BuildingIQ system.

ComfortIQ also broadcasts information to tenants about energy prices and the amount of energy being consumed or saved in their building.

Commercial buildings are responsible for more than a third of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and have been identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the largest and most cost-effective sector for achieving greenhouse gas reductions.

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