55. Living Builidings
Good habits can save energy in the buildings we use everyday -- offices, schools, libraries and more. But often the building users don't know how to engage in energy savings and when action is needed. There is no connection between real-time energy use, and real-time habits.
For schools and governments, this problem is particularly expensive when there are demand charges in the rate structure, a fee that is based on the moment of highest energy use. Avoiding the peaks through good user habits can save money. For one school district, we calculated that demand charges were 30% of the annual utility bill. This means saving energy during 12 - 24 critical hours each month could save many thousands of dollars.
Living Buildings creates the connection between real-time energy use and real-time behavior. The technology we have developed tracks real-time energy use and sends messages (texts, tweets, and emails) to building users who have signed up for the program. The messages are focused on shaving off peak demand and putting the building to "full sleep" during the off hours. Habit changes at these two critical times save the most money.
Key to this technology is its easy and cheerful engagement model. There is a website to track energy use and savings, and messages posted by system. Energy data and messages are updated in real-time. Students can monitor school energy use, office workers can cheer as they avoid a peak. The building's energy use has come to life.
Living Buildings fills a gap in the market. It is well suited for schools, libraries and other buildings with a high number of visitors or occupants. It is a light technology, with an easy install by an electrician, and covers the small commercial part of the market, where sophisticated controls are not cost effective.
Why it should be recognized:
Living Buildings is an important engagement tool. It can turn a school into a living laboratory for energy savings. It can engage an entire community in saving energy at the library. Living Buildings creates community engagement around energy savings.
Living Buildings has been co-developed by WattzOn and Balfour Beatty. It was introduced at the White House in October 2012 by WattzOn.
Living Buildings is currently in operation on several military bases, under the Switch4Good program.