Sensor “suitcase” headed for production, can help reduce energy consumption in small businesses by 10%
Over the past several years, researchers at the Pacific Northwest and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories have been working on an exciting new approach to saving energy in small business. The approach relies on a suite of 16 small sensors packaged in a single suitcase that any business owner can easily install. The sensors measure HVAC and lighting performance in a building and upload the data to the cloud, where analytics are performed and a simple report is generated for business owners that shows them a list of low- and no-cost energy-saving opportunities, along with estimated cost and payback period. This method allows for energy audits and recommendations to be made at a fraction the cost in small businesses—a sector that is notoriously difficult to reach with energy-savings opportunities.
And now the suitcase sensor is headed into mass production. The labs have established non-exclusive licensing agreements with GreenPath Energy Solutions and Cultural Quotient to produce and market the suitcases. Researchers believe the cost could be as low as $500 per suitcase, once full production commences. And the savings are promising. The national lab research teams estimate that building owners should be able to save about 10 percent on energy bills by implementing the recommended actions. And when advanced controls are added to a building, that number can jump to 29 percent.
Furthermore, the sensors can be permanently deployed or redeployed periodically in an effort to maintain savings and building performance. While this type of ongoing commissioning is common in large commercial facilities, smaller businesses have often not been able to tap into these savings because of the costs involved. With such a low price tag, the suitcase should help many businesses overcome those financial hurdles to ensure the initial savings last into the future.
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