Reduction of Energy Use Through Involvement and Awareness of Users

Sustainable Buildings

7. Affordable and Clean Energy 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

By giving real time feedback to building users, the team of Sustainable Buildings want to make these users become aware of the impact their consumption has on the environment. By translating the energy use levels into easy to understand activities, the company creates a reference for people to evaluate their energy consumption and rethink this.

Author

Antoniya Grozdanova

Antoniya Grozdanova

School

University of Groningen

University of Groningen

Professors

Thomas Long

Thomas Long

Margo Enthoven

Margo Enthoven

Innovation

Sustainable Buildings provides buildings with a combined software and hardware solution, meant to track occupancy, temperature, humidity, CO2 and light levels in real-time. Through the collection of this data, the energy consumption can be carefully evaluated and decreased in the cases where this is possible or necessary.

By gathering and analyzing this data via smart sensors, this service aims to suggest where and how consumption can be cut down, by for instance suggesting the switching off of lights and heating in unoccupied spaces. This not only reduces costs for the companies which opt for purchasing this service, but also contributes to the goal of making buildings more efficient and sustainable.

For companies which want to go the extra mile, the team of Sustainable Buildings has developed the Public Dashboard. This solution enables building owners and facility managers to make users aware of the impact of the energy consumed by them. The information is presented on screens throughout the building, in a simple way which is easy to understand, yet it is striking and impacting. While using appliances in the given building, the user is shown an equivalent of the energy he uses in terms of meals cooked, number of households heated for an entire day, etc. The awareness created through information transparency makes users feel responsible for their energy consumption and encourages them to rethink this. To ensure that measures are taken, the software provides customized notifications and energy saving tips, which can immediately be enforced.

Reduction of Energy Use Through Involvement and Awareness of Users

Inspiration

This innovation was inspired by the observation the founders Faris Nizamic and Tuan Anh Nguyen had of office buildings which clearly showed no signs of life in non-working hours, but which still had the lights and heating turned on. The founders were encouraged to fine-tune buildings by making them more efficient, as they could clearly see the opportunity of easily reducing energy usage and costs which were unreasonable and not justified. The idea of making a building smart and fully automated seemed logical and attractive, as this could bring benefits not only to the owner and users of this building, but also to the environment as a whole.

Overall impact

The solution created by Faris and Tuan provides both economic and environmental benefits. The economic benefits of this service are aimed at the owners of the building. As the smart sensors collect and analyze data, this can be provided to the owners and facility managers, which might help them have better insights into their property. By providing a comprehensive analysis of the data collected, the service enables the users to adjust their behavior in terms of energy consumption, which helps them save costs. Due to the automation of the process, only the very necessary amount of energy is consumed and no resources are wasted. Through the decreased usage, CO2 emissions are also decreased, which supports the company's goals to bring sustainability into the urban areas.

Business benefit

The entire product and service offering of Sustainable Buildings consists of Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) - based tech solutions, which means the products are connected to the internet, interact in real time and have high computing intelligence. This creates a great competitive advantage for the company and differentiates it from other building management system providers. The founders adopted a successful strategy through combining environmental awareness among end users, cost reduction for building owners, innovative technologies in their industry field and strong benefits for the environment. The noble cause behind the innovative solutions creates legitimacy among green representatives in the local government and the attractive cost reduction benefits appeal to customers interested in the financial aspect of the service. In other words, the company successfully combines an economic and an environmental logic, while also exhibiting a strong tech-innovation approach.

Social and environmental benefit

By making users aware of the true cost of the energy they consume, Sustainable Buildings ensures the society is conscious with regards to the impact CO2 emissions have on the environment. By receiving a comprehensive and user-friendly dashboard, energy users are more likely to understand the implications of their consumption and of the potential wasted resources in the case of irresponsible consumption. By making users aware of the overarching environmental problem which CO2 emissions entail, energy can be saved not only in the short run within this particular building, but consumption habits can be shaped in such way, in which users maintain their sustainable habits also outside of the building in which public dashboards are provided.

Through the successful use of technological innovations implemented in the offering of Sustainable Buildings, the company serves as a best practice example of how technological innovation can be used to create sustainable urban buildings and cities. By successfully implementing an economic logic through a clear financial benefit for the users, and a sustainability logic through the energy savings, the company creates a strong argument against assumptions of economic and sustainability goals being mutually exclusive.

Interview

Ramon van der Heijden, Account Manager

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Sustainable Buildings

Sustainable Buildings

Groningen, Groningen, NL

Business Website: https://sustainablebuildings.nl/nl/

Year Founded: 2012

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

'Sustainable buildings' is a young start-up aimed at making buildings energy-efficient by providing them with a cloud-based energy management system. The mission of Sustainable Buildings is to accelerate the transition to sustainability through an affordable solution. The company has the vision to enable every building to have an easy to use and effective energy management system, which ensures energy is used efficiently and saved whenever possible.