Category: Trends & Concepts

The smart building space just got smarter

I attended an IBM Analysts day last week in London where IBM briefed us on a number of announcements in the Smart buildings space.

Why do we need smart buildings in the first place? What problem are they solving? Well, according to IBM, worldwide, buildings consume 42% of all electricity generated and by 2025 they will be the largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet! That’s definitely something we want to start tackling sooner rather than later.

What exactly is a Smart Building?

Building controls

Old Building controls

A Smart Building is one which takes data from all of a building’s disparate systems – think lighting, air conditioning, water heating and pumping, access control, video and physical security, lifts, etc. and provides integrated control of those system. Also a smart building has analytics to report when there are problems with any of the building’s connected systems and it brings all this information together into management dashboards appropriate for the users and operators of the building.

Having access to this data and integrated control enables building owners/operators to reduce energy consumption, increase operational efficiency and by responding more quickly to alerts, to reduce maintenance costs. According to IBM, adding intelligence to buildings, can reduce energy usage by 40% and maintenance costs by anywhere between 10-30%.

IBM see this as an important emerging space so they recently announced new software, appliances and partnerships to help address it.

The IBM partnership with Schneider Electric has yielded a new smarter buildings solution which when deployed in Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island saw:

Friday Green Numbers round-up 10/08/2010

Green Numbers
Photo credit: tiffa130 @ flickr

And here are this week’s Green Numbers:

  • “The Timberland Company (NYSE: TBL) believes it can help alleviate hunger, create jobs, protect wildlife and preserve the environment…all through the simple act of planting a tree. Make that five million trees – in five years.

    It’s a bold pledge in support of a bold vision. And although the notion is pretty simple – plant some trees, do some good in the world – Timberland’s global reforestation program recognizes that success doesn’t come quite as easily as that.

    “You can’t just throw a sapling in the ground and expect the world to change,” said Timberland President & CEO Jeff Swartz. “But done thoughtfully and strategically, with committed partners, planting trees really can lead to meaningful long-term solutions to a whole host of environmental, social and economic problems.” “

  • Plans to build three new factories to make thousands of giant offshore wind turbines that would create an estimated 60,000 jobs are set to become the latest casualty of the spending review, it has emerged.
    The previous government had pledged £60m to upgrade ports, mainly in the north-east, to enable them to handle the next generation of giant turbines for installation off the UK coast.

    Siemens and General Electric have announced plans to invest £180m in two new manufacturing facilities in the UK, but say this is conditional on the necessary work on nearby ports. Mitsubishi is also interested in building a third factory.

    But the Guardian has learned that the competition inviting ports to bid for the funds is likely to be scrapped

  • Still quite lightweight, Microsoft have finally, with their 2010 corporate citizenship report, produced a report following the GRI reporting guidelines.

    Hopefully this is the beginning of proper CR reporting from Microsoft.

  • According to a new SEC filing, Rhode Island startup GreenBytes Inc. added $3.5 million to the series A round they raised last year, led by Battery Ventures and initially consisted of $7.5 million.

    GreenBytes provides “energy-efficient, inline deduplication storage appliances.” In plainer English, the company makes hardware and software that IT operations teams use to store and protect huge amounts of data, and to control how much energy they must use to do so. GreenBytes claims its technology can cut storage power consumption by 50%.

  • Major corporations can save millions of dollars with simple energy efficiency tweaks–if they know where to look. That’s where the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program can help. The three year-old program plays host to 51 MBA students that are sent to 47 corporations to dig up energy savings.

    This year’s group found $350 million in net operational cost savings at companies including Bloomberg, eBay, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Target, Verizon, and Xerox. So how did they do it?

  • Eurostar has today announced a planned £700m investment in its rolling stock that will result in the rail operator running some of the greenest trains on the planet from 2014…

Symantec need to stop hiding their Green light under a bushel

Enrique Salem, Symantec CEO, at Symantec Vision 2010

I attended Symantec’s Vision 2010 event in Barcelona yesterday and I found it to be hugely frustrating!

Symantec are one of the world’s largest computer security companies with 31,000 customers, 18,400 employees (PDF), and revenue in 2009 of $6.2 billion.

At yesterday’s Vision event however, they missed lots of great opportunities to talk up their Green story! I sat through the keynote from CEO Enrique Salem and presentations from the business unit leads and there was not one mention of the word Sustainability or even Green.

Deepak Mohan at Symantec Vision 2010

Deepak Mohan at Symantec Vision 2010

Deepak Mohan, SVP of the Information Management Group came closest when he mentioned efficiencies associated with de-duplication, eliminating redundancy, reducing data transfer and more efficient (that word again) search. Guys, these are obvious Green wins!

Things improved considerably in the afternoon when Fujitsu, a Symantec customer, spoke about the payback from installing a hosted email filtering solution from Symantec. Before the installation, Fujitsu were receiving in excess of 2m emails per day. Between 90-95% of these emails were spam. After the rollout of the email filtering solution, Fujitsu are now receiving 5-10% of their previous email load per day. As a consequence they were able to reduce their email infrastructure from sixteen servers down to two. Furthermore, they were able to reduce their network link requirements and their storage requirements for email. And finally they were able to free up IT resources who previously were tasked with managing the email infrastructure. This is a big Green win!

My Symantec Vision 2010 conference badge

My Symantec Vision 2010 conference badge

Later in the afternoon I was especially heartened to have a one-to-one session with Symantec VP of Global Solutions, Jose Iglesias. Jose is the guy raising/waving the Green flag within Symantec. He informed me that Symantec have used their own technologies to reduce the electricity bill in their data centers by $3m (10%) per annum!

How do they do this?

IBM Start – positive outcomes from the fabulous Sustainable Energy day

Waterfall

I have already written about how well the IBM Start event started out – well I wanted to dive a little deeper into one of the days in particular – the Smarter Energy for a Sustainable future day. Why? For me, it was by far the best day of the event.

IBM Start – Building the New Energy System

Why do I say that? A number of reasons –

  1. The speaker list was stellar with senior representation from EDF, BP, E.ON UK, British Gas, Water UK, OFGEM, Carbon Trust, Shell, B&Q, National Grid, Central Networks, WWF, Stagecoach, Power Perfector amongst others, as well as representatives from NGO’s, academia and research organisations.
  2. The delegate list was spectacular as well and consequently the networking on the day was through the roof and
  3. There was far more audience participation solicited than on any of the other days I attended Start

The discussions themselves were fantastic but there were far too many of them happening in parallel – I mean how do you decide between:

  • Building the new Energy System
  • Driven by Demand – Managing the New Infrastructure or
  • New Business Models for Energy in New Economies

I wanted to attend all of them!

A real surprise for me was the speech by Charles Hendry

Friday Green Numbers round-up 09/03/2010

Green Numbers
Photo credit trindade.joao

And here is this week’s Green numbers:

  • “There’ve been multiple gigawatts of solar thermal power plants planned for various places in the California desert for some time, but finally some more of them are getting the approvals need so that construction can start: The US Bureau of Land Management has issued a final environmental impact statement for the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project; and the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy project has received final California state approval as well.
    The smaller of the two first: Renewable Energy World reports NextEra Energy Resources has been given the green light by the California Energy Commission to begin construction on the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy project.

  • Researchers at Columbia University have demonstrated that a layer of plants and earth can cut the rate of heat absorption through the roof of a building in summer by 84%

    Perhaps the greatest overall benefit of green roofs comes in tackling the “urban heat island” effect, which Gaffin suggests is responsible for two-thirds of New York’s localized warming over the last century. The conventional black rooftops that he calls “tar beaches” are major contributors to this phenomenon, absorbing and re-radiating the sun’s energy as heat. “We’re going to want to cool regional climate down, especially where people are living,” Gaffin noted. “So we’re going to have to confront the urban heat island effect.”

    While conventional roofs can reach temperatures of 80 °C at 1.00 p.m. even outside of high summer, green roofs always stay closer to ambient temperatures. “These [conventional roofs] are almost dangerously hot spaces,” Gaffin told environmentalresearchweb. “That’s a huge heat load that we can get rid of.”

    Plants in green roofs regulate their temperatures through evapotranspiration. “They evaporate copious amounts of water,” Gaffin explained. “That takes a lot of energy and means it’s a great way to stay cool.”

  • Energy efficiency is THE core climate solution. It’s the biggest low-carbon resource by far. “Efficiency Works” [PDF], a major new report by Bracken Hendricks, Bill Campbell, and Pen Goodale, finds that a straightforward set of policies aimed at upgrading just 40 percent of the residential and commercial building stock in the United States would:

    1. Create 625,000 sustained full-time jobs over a decade.
    2. Spark $500 billion in new investments to upgrade 50 million homes and office buildings.
    3. Generate as much as $64 billion a year in cost savings for U.S. ratepayers, freeing consumers to spend their money in more productive ways.
  • Cisco this morning announced its intent to acquire privately-held Arch Rock, which specializes in IP-based wireless sensor network technology with a focus on energy and environmental monitoring and Smart Grid applications.

    Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

  • ONE of the curiosities of carbon markets is that they do not just trade in carbon. Other greenhouse gases can be given a value, too—sometimes a very high one. Claims that these prices promote scammery are now prompting some searching questions.

    The gas at the centre of the controversy is HFC-23, a greenhouse gas which, on a weight-for-weight basis, is 14,800 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. HFC-23 is produced as a by-product of the manufacture of HCFC-22, an ozone-destroying refrigerant. HCFC-22 is banned in developed countries, but developing countries can keep making it until 2030.

    The acronyms do not end there. Under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United Nations HCFC-22 producers in developing countries that destroy, rather than release, their HFC-23 can be eligible for Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits, which can then be traded in the European Union’s emissions-trading scheme. This allows companies to buy extra emissions reductions to meet their cap-and-trade obligations, and in so doing to transfer money to schemes reducing emissions in developing countries.

Digital Lumens intelligent LEDs cut Maines energy for lighting by 87%

Digital Lumens and Maines Before and after
Photo of before and after installation of Digital Lumens lighting system in Maines Paper & Food Service courtesy of Digital Lumens.


Digital Lumens reduced the cost of lighting for their first customer by 87%.

Digital Lumens specialise in high-bay lighting for warehouses, cold storage facilities, and manufacturing plants. This is a mostly invisible but very large segment. It is estimated that in the US alone, $5bn worth of lighting is sold into the supply chain sector every year.

Mike Feinstein, Digital Lumens’ VP of Sales and Marketing, told me on a recent call that they are very much a start-up company and that they have had their first revenues in this calendar year.

In a recent press release Digital Lumens reported that their first large-scale customer, Maines Paper & Food Service has reduced their energy requirements for lighting by 87% since installing the Digital Lumens lighting system. Up until now, Maines 500,000 sq ft (46,450 sq meters) warehouse was lit using sodium lights 24 x 7 and lighting costs made up around 20% of Maines total energy spend.

With the new system Maines expects to save 1,726,108kWh per year which, at a cost of US$0.0958 per kWh for industrial customers in New York, amounts to a $ saving of just over $165,000 per annum. This saving, combined with an incentive provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), means that Maines will recoup the cost of this project in less than a year!

I was fascinated with this story so I spoke to Pat DeOrdio, the VP of Operations for Maines.

Pat told me that Maines were doing a full analysis of their lighting to see how “we could reduce our kW off the grid and help with our Green initiatives” when they came across the Digital Lumens solution.

For Pat, what was particularly compelling about the intelligent lighting system was the management software which came with it

“With Digital Lumen’s lights, every one of them is like a little computer. It has its own IP address so we are able to control that lighting level – if we want to have the light turn off in 30 seconds, 60 seconds or when nobody’s in the aisle, you know, why do you want it lit? It gives us the ability to control the light level from a computer and it reduces our energy cost”

The zero-emissions Nissan Leaf test drive

The Nissan Leaf

I love the idea of electric cars and have done for a long time.

Recently, one of my best friends Ray Flynn, proprietor of Flynns Garage (a Nissan Dealership in Carlow, Ireland), contacted me to let me know he is one of only 15 Nissan dealerships in Ireland who have been approved to sell the new all-electric Nissan Leaf. As such he had a limited number of slots available for a test drive and he wanted to know if I’d like one of them. I jumped at the chance!

The Leaf is a totally electric car relying completely on its 24 kW·h/90 kW lithium ion battery pack for power. The battery pack is rated to deliver 100 miles on a full charge but this can vary from about 62 miles (100 km) to almost 138 miles (222 km) depending on driving style, load, traffic conditions, weather (i.e. wind, atmospheric density) and accessory use.

Nissan Leaf under the hood

Nissan Leaf under the hood

The car is a five seater with a spacious interior. It is very responsive to drive. My own car is a 2008 Toyota Prius and this is a much nippier car than the Prius. It handles well on the road and because there are 300kg of batteries under the floor, the car sticks to the road on corners!

Charge time varies on the type of charging (normal or fast) and whether the battery is fully depleted or only partially. Using a standard 220/240 volt 30 amp supply the battery can be fully charged in 8 hours. Fast charging using a 440V level 3 charger charges to 80% in around 20 minutes – these are typically the kinds of chargers you will see deployed in places like McDonalds, Tesco’s and motorway café’s I assume.

Nissan Leaf interior

Nissan Leaf interior

There is a lot of technology built in to the car. It is connected to a global data center which provides support, information and entertainment at all times. The GPS navigation system delivers a constantly updating display of your range as well as showing all the charging stations on your route and it allows you to book a charging station to ensure that it is available when you arrive.

Mobile phone apps will allow remote turning on of aircon and heating as well as setting charging times to coincide with time of use rates from utilities…

Friday Green Numbers round-up 07/30/2010

Green Numbers
Photo credit Lauren Manning

And here are this week’s Green Numbers:

Symantec’s Sustainability Story: It’s The Power Consumption, Stupid.

symantec commitment

I was lucky enough recently to meet Jose Iglesias, the guy spearheading Symantec’s sustainability efforts. I wrote the interview up over on Monkchips, but much of the content belongs here too. I like Symantec’s clear focus on energy. While others are broadening their sustainability story, Symantec is doubling down on managing energy more effectively, with a plan to take its expertise in reducing IT power consumption and start applying it to broader Smart Grid demand response.

Symantec’s Green IT story is very much an enterprise play and arguably a solid sustainability product strategy could help to increase visibility for some of Symantec’s enterprise tools. Thus for example – Symantec NetBackup PureDisk for storage deduplication could be used to cut the amount of storage and power. One challenge for Symantec is identifying and serving the new buyers in energy reduction. Most of the firm’s traditional practitioner purchasers are not tasked with reducing the energy footprint of the products they manage….

“We sell to admins, but few get compensated on energy savings”

To which I would say… not yet.

Smart Grid as Game Changer

One major opportunity for Symantec to change the account management game there is to parlay its IT experience directly into related spaces such as Smart Grid security and asset management…

Friday Green Numbers round-up 07/09/2010

Green Numbers
Photo credit trindade.joao

And here is this week’s Green numbers: