Short series on energy novelties initiated by the Academic community of the University of Groningen. Episode 2: Sustainable Buildings
PhD students Faris Nizamic and Tuan Anh Nguyen are real entrepreneurs. Smart boys with a dedicated plan and a mission derived from their passion: to make any existing building more energy-efficient, to tackle or reduce all kinds of energy waste: electricity waste, water waste, waste of disposals. Name it.
One day they decided to transfer their passion into business. To make use of their academic research expertise obtained in Distributed Systems research group, led by Prof. Marco Aiello. And to make use of the support that the University offers to entrepreneurial students to valorise excellent knowledge. A new start-up was born: Sustainable Buildings, a young and growing technology spin-off from the University of Groningen. This start-up helps their customers cut energy costs by up to 35%, and make energy management tasks of building managers much easier and effective. At the same time reducing distractions by environment, improving work places, and finally increasing productivity of employees.
‘ The first step to bring our research to reality was to apply for the Green Mind Award in 2012 with our project ‘ Bernouilliborg - The Building of Sustainability ’ , CEO of the company, Faris Nizamic, explains. The Green Mind Award is an initiative of the Sustainability Steering Group of the University of Groningen. Staff and students can submit ideas to improve sustainability performance within the University ’ s business operations or buildings.
‘ And we were fortunate enough that our project won the first prize, 100.000 euros, ’ CPO of the company, Tuan Anh Nguyen, proudly adds. ‘ The prize money was intended to spend on implementation of the project. ’ Their first software products are already working in the Bernouilliborg building at the Zernike campus, where energy consumption is reduced by controlling the lighting, PCs and other appliances. L ook at the video on the website :
makes office buildings more energy efficient using smart sensor networks deployed throughout a building connected to a cloud based platform to control lighting, PC ’ s and other energy consuming equipment. Through the implementation of a network of sensors we bring brains to buildings. The sensors monitor all kinds of energy consumption and energy waste. More-over, we present this information back to building occupants in form of inter-active dashboards or to building managers by additionally providing them with mobile apps. ’
Sustainable Buildings concept focuses on energy and economic savings and above all improved end-user comfort. Tuan Anh: ‘ And, even though that is not our main focus, the same smart network of sensors could be used for locating the occupants in case of emergency evacuation or for other optimizations as well. A win-win-situation to control buildings without manual intervention. ’’
Last year the company submitted their SENSEOS project (Sensible heating ope-ration solutions) for the Green Mind award 2014 round. Faris: ‘ Our slogan was: to consume less energy to heat the office than for making your coffee. ’ The project came in second in the Green Mind 2014 competition.
In June, Sustainable Buildings has been awarded the Pioneers Challenge Community Award 2015, Europe ’ s major conference in Vienna for tomorrow ’ s ideas. And recently, the Groningen based company has been selected for the Startup Fast Track programme that is an initiative of Energy Academy Europe and GDF SUEZ which aims specifically at stimulating, coaching and financing promising energy startups in the North of The Netherlands
A future to explore. ‘ In close collaboration with our strategic partners ’ Faris stressses. ‘ Dealing with innovative solutions to tackle energy waste is dealing with having insight in the energy consumer ’ s usage and user decisions. Furthermore, we show to the users how reducing of energy consumption of buildings can be fun and engaging activity. ’
Faris: ‘ Our mission towards successful sustainable management is thus not only a technical story, it is a story about human behaviour. For that purpose we collaborate closely with the research group of Prof. Linda Steg. Prof. Steg is doing research into the i nteraction between people and their environment and how can environmentally-friendly behaviour be promoted. ’
Tuan Anh: ‘ From the business development point of view, a s of January 2015, we participate in VentureLab North, the business accelerator for startups and existing companies in the Northern-Netherlands. And Mr Marnix Pool, Business Developer of the Research & Valorisation Department of the University, supports us on the way to commercialize our expertise. ’
Faris: ‘Sustainable Buildings continues saving energy by expanding their solutions to support more consuming systems as well as deploying their solutions to more buildings in Groningen. Recently we spoke with the municipality of Groningen and they showed their interest to install our consumption monitoring dashboard to get more insights on energy waste reduction in their existing buildings. And University ’ s policy makers asked us to advise on energy-efficiency-issues in buildings under construction as well. That makes us a very proud team. ’
Tuan Anh: ‘ In the end, we should not forget that energy is something that connects us all. ’
In November the access gates in the University Library City Centre will be tested. If this test proves to be satisfactory, the access gates will be permanently activated.
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