Better control of building systems is one of the keys to reducing overall building energy usage. Building systems have always had control systems associated with them, and some of them are very complex, highly engineered systems. But centralized systems can be expensive, difficult to program, and are not necessarily responsive to changing conditions.
Regen Energy is a new company that is using a number of distributed controllers for various building systems, rather than a single, central controller, to improve the energy efficiency of a building. Using a "swarm" approach to building control is quicker and easier to install than a centralized system. And by setting parameters for building equipment, it is easier to set performance goals without needing to program the entire building.
"We tell the controllers, 'Here are some rough guidelines for upper and lower limits' (of energy consumption) and they do the work," he said. "Right now, the way to do this sort of thing is to get a building engineer who does an analysis and then get a software programmer to write custom code."
Regen Energy is partnering with the solar-energy monitoring firm Fat Spaniel and with Zerofootprint, a carbon-management software company. "Fat Spaniel's solar array monitoring software (is used to) maximize the amount of electricity used from on-site solar, Kerbel said. The integration with Zerofootprint's service will allow building managers to reduce carbon emissions by integrating real-time information on whether power is being generated from fossil fuels or renewable energy." By coordinating with utility programs that identify peak-load periods, the swarm network can help reduce building energy demand, which translates into utility rate savings, as well as improving energy performance.