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02.10.2019, 20:52

Pushing the Boundaries of Cloud-based Building Services

Company News, Energy Management, Automation, Robotics & Artificial Intelligence (AI), EMEA, PropTech

Building performance tech firm arbnco and the University of Strathclyde have announced a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) to develop an IoT powered solution for collecting sensor data to provide facilities managers with operational insights and help reduce energy use.


The collaboration between the Glasgow-based organisations aims to develop and commercialise cloud-based building services and follows a previous partnership between arbnco and the University of Strathclyde’s Energy Systems Research Unit (ESRU) that investigated the ‘energy performance gap’ in buildings. 


The KTP will primarily involve the development of a comprehensive Internet of Things (IoT) system, designed to collect and deliver building information in the most direct and accessible way possible. This will require the deployment of sensors, or use of existing sensors, to collect building data. Cloud-based software will be developed to process the data as it is transferred from the sensors to the cloud, as well as a web-based dashboard where the data is collated, and the most important information is displayed as required. 


The project will be lead by arbnco’s KTP Associate, Agnieszka Bachleda-Baca, who says:

“One of the main issues identified with current technologies is that the raw data collected by sensors is often of limited use on its own, and has the potential to be overwhelming in its quantity. A goal of the project will therefore be applying the right rules and techniques in order to extract the right meaning for the user, and prevent the important information from being lost or unintentionally overlooked.


 “There is no generic solution for every building; each building and each facility manager has different requirements. Consequently, the partnership will heavily involve the end users in the software development, putting an emphasis on incremental development.” 


Seeking to target an end-user base of building owners and operators, such as facilities managers or real estate investment trusts, the project will link with commercial partners in order to develop for individual needs. The project aims to provide timely building operation insights that will help reduce energy use and improve the management and maintenance of equipment. 


The partnership hopes to explore the use of simple, low-cost sensors in various roles, including condition monitoring, and as a way to provide a ‘lite’ building management system (BMS), for buildings that do not currently have any form of BMS. This ‘BMS-lite’ could perform simple but critical duties, such as vibration sensors measuring hours of fan operation, and temperature sensors feeding back on boiler flow and settings.  


The technologies to be developed by the project have numerous benefits for facilities managers and building operators. A significant amount of time could be saved in the acquisition of information; instead of having to manually gather data, these individuals can have it delivered directly to them through a centralised platform, allowing real-time analysis of performance, and the ability to react to any issues quickly and reliably. If an undesired event takes place within the building operation, the operator can be notified immediately and the issue remedied. The development taking place in association with end users will ensure that these services are as accessible as possible, requiring no formal data analysis knowledge.  


Professor Joe Clarke, ESRU director, adds:

"A KTP project is a most effective way to transform research outcomes to practical application as demonstrated in our previous collaborations with arbnco addressing new approaches to building performance tracking. The present KTP will build on past achievements by establishing a building management product based on the ‘Internet of Things’ concept, which is able to provide real-time notification of issues and make available essential data to support decision-making. An important aspect of the new project is the involvement of end users as a means to ensure the applicability of the envisaged estate management product."



About KTP

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is Europe’s leading programme helping business to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK’s Higher Education knowledge base. KTP is funded by Innovate UK with 12 other funding organisations.


About arbnco

Founded in 2015, arbnco is one of the leading software providers to the UK commercial real estate market, enabling some of the world’s largest property investors to make better and quicker decisions regarding the energy performance of their property. Its software solutions are used to enhance energy performance, manage building compliance, monitor indoor air quality and forecast the impact of climate change on buildings. In 2018, arbnco was named in Virgin’s top ten Scottish start-up firms.


About ESRU

Founded in 1987, the ESRU group of researchers undertakes research into all aspects of built environment energy and environmental performance, including approaches to demand reduction and the integration of new and renewable energy supply technologies. A feature of the group’s work is the development of software tools for performance simulation that may be used by practitioners to appraise options in a rigorous manner prior to deployment. 







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