The old adage goes, "If you can't measure, you can't improve," and nowhere does this hold more true then in the field of energy efficiency. According to building technology experts, we have the ability right now to reduce our total CO2 emissions by 1/3 or more simply through improving building performance. But in order to do so, we need new and powerful measurement tools that give real-time feedback about how our homes and offices are using (or misusing) energy.
So a new field has been carved out in the cleantech world to address just this issue — resource monitoring. A resource monitoring system uses sensors and power measurement tools to collect data about the resources being consumed — electricity, gas/oil, and water. I've recently encountered three new monitoring dashboards that convert these data points into real savings, both in terms of dollars and CO2:
Now a member of the US Green Building Council, AgileWaves has created a highly sophisticated monitoring system (pictured above) devised by three NASA scientists. The system uses a network of different sensors that collect data and publish it on your unique web page. So from your computer or Blackberry you can be alerted if there is a major plumbing or insulation leak, an energy-hogging device has ben left on, or that its time to roll down the blinds to prevent heat from entering your home. If you have a controllable thermostat, two-way integration is also possible, allowing you to adjust the temperature of your home remotely. Creators of the system predict that a typical home owner could save 20 percent or more on their utilities by implementing their monitoring system.
The Lucid Design Group created an innovative Building Dashboard designed for commercial and institutional buildings. It won the California Cleantech prize in the Smart Power category, and like AgileWaves, offers real-time monitoring of resources. In addition, they have created a touch-screen control panel (when I demoed it, it did feel a little like I was on the Starship Enterprise) which features helpful tools like a "comparison" button that lets you see how neighboring buildings are performing. The Lucid group predicts a typical customer will see 9-18 percent savings in resource consumption.
Lastly, I just interviewed a new company launched today called Sentilla which focuses on energy management exclusively. I just interviewed the creators of the tool and will be publishing an interview this week. It is amazing. By using tiny computer processors at the power source, the energy management system can tell device by device how energy is being used in the system. A central dashboard pulls it all together and gives building (or server) owners the information they need to make selective repairs and replacements, dramatically reducing inefficiencies.