Harvard latest university to start measuring campus building energy

The most challenging thing about building energy usage measurement is that buildings change, depending on weather, what systems are working away inside, lighting levels and the number of occupants. So, if you have any hope of achieving an idyllic net-zero status for a particular structure -- where the building is having no residual impact on the environment -- then you need to measure usage all the time.

The most challenging thing about building energy usage measurement is that buildings change, depending on weather, what systems are working away inside, lighting levels and the number of occupants. So, if you have any hope of achieving an idyllic net-zero status for a particular structure -- where the building is having no residual impact on the environment -- then you need to measure usage all the time.

Enter technology company Aircuity, which is one of the companies that has developed a set of sensors and services to help facilities operators improve efficiency and reduce building costs. This particular company has established a following in higher education -- it is one of the biggest partners in the University of Pennsylvania's program, where it is helping the school save roughly $1.1 million annually.

Now, the Harvard Law School has just become a customer for the company's OptiNet solution, which layers the information being collected by sensors with Aircuity's database of information about relevant adjustments that should be made to building management systems for the best efficiency settings possible at a given movement.

The technology will be used as part of the new Wassersten Hall, Caspersen Student Center and Clinical Wing, which is a 250,000 square foot complex that will strive to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Gold Certification. The complex supports about 1,900 Harvard Law Students. It was always planned that the buildings should have carbon dioxide sensors -- actually it was going to included 101 -- but Aircuity said it was able to reduce the number that need to be deployed. Its project should have a payback within 1.1 years, according to a statement by the company's chairman, Gordon Sharp.

When I spoke with Aircuity recently for some background about the company, its president and chief operating officer Rob Brierley said payback periods for its OptiNet solution range from 1 to 4 years depending on the extent of the deployment. The company's vertical focus covers high education, life sciences research facilities, hospitals and healthcare environments and large sports arenas and convention centers.