BuildingIQ Enters U.S. Energy Management Market

A new energy cost solution is emerging, thanks to the Australian government.

CPE Radio: Energy Savings Solutions from BuildingIQ

A new energy cost solution is emerging, thanks to the Australian government. Energy management software company BuildingIQ has brought its new Predictive Energy Optimization System to the United States and is in search of pilot program participants. Launched in October 2009 by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the national research organization, BuildingIQ is commercially spinning out a system that automatically measures and adjusts existing HVAC systems for a low-cost solution that has thus far resulted in energy reductions of 10 to 20 and in one case even 30 percent.

“Our solution really is a low- or no-capital-cost way to significantly improve energy costs in buildings,” noted BuildingIQ CEO Michael Zimmerman. While other solutions provide good reporting, he said, this one is unique in that it actually implements its findings, using the existing HVAC system rather than requiring a building retrofit. The greatest benefit, he said, is that it can put the building over the hurdle to achieve an Energy Star rating—which can in turn benefit efforts to achieve a LEED accreditation, as well. In addition, charged with achieving tenant comfort, the system includes a desktop application that can allow for more tailored adjustments to energy use. (In fact, the LEED areas to which it contributes include innovation, monitoring and comfort.) In addition to being entirely software-based, it is managed on a subscription basis, which further keeps costs of implementation and operation down.

Cost, in fact, was a contributor to the selection of the United States as the first roll-out outside Australia. “The U.S. is a place that (is seeking to reduce energy costs) but doesn’t have the capital to do what it needs to do,” Zimmerman observed. He estimated that while 25 to 30 percent of office buildings in Australia are rated for the equivalent there of Energy Star, less than 3 percent of U.S. office buildings have achieved that distinction. A growing number of tenants and investors are seeking buildings with better energy performance and there has been an increase in government mandates, yet economic difficulties have made it harder to deliver. “People are looking for ways to reduce costs and don’t have lots of resources.”

The system is designed for office buildings and retail malls, as well as government buildings and hospital administrative or common space—properties and areas with zoned HVAC, enclosed spaces and variability of use. Intended for optimization of energy use—through such means as fine-tuning start and stop times, taking into account such external factors as weather conditions and local energy costs as well as usage—Zimmerman likened it to the autopilot on an airplane, fully automated and constantly updated to accommodate changing conditions.

BuildingIQ currently has three clients with 15 buildings in Australia: Lend Lease Corp., a Morgan Stanley-owned fund and a government entity. It is in late-stage discussions with a number of U.S. companies as well as some building management system providers, though which it may also market the product. Plans are for a fourth-quarter U.S. ramp-up.