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Scientific Conservation technology fights "energy drift"

Scientific Conservation sits at the intersection of green IT and green technology for more energy-efficient building management.Founded in 2007, the company offers a software platform called SCIwatch for what it has dubbed Automated Continuous Commissioning.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Scientific Conservation sits at the intersection of green IT and green technology for more energy-efficient building management.

Founded in 2007, the company offers a software platform called SCIwatch for what it has dubbed Automated Continuous Commissioning. In laymen's terms, this means the application will keep tabs on the various heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), electrical and mechanical systems that can either keep a building running cost-effectively OR that can cause dreaded "energy leakage" and "building drift." This is essentially anything that gets in the way of operating at peak efficiency.

(So, for example, lights left on when they shouldn't be, negligence in monitoring energy rates, maintenance oversights, seasonal fluctuations and so on. Here's a white paper about its approach.)

The company's executives claims that it can help businesses with buildings more than 50,000 square feet in size reduce their energy spend by 15 percent to 20 percent. What's more, the software can help predict system breakdowns or misconfigurations, says the company's CEO, David Wolins.

Take the example of Neiman Marcus, which is a Scientific Conservation customer. Before it began using SCIwatch, one of the retailer's buildings in Plano, Texas, experienced an HVAC systems maintenance oversight that cost close to $11,000 to fix because it wasn't detected. That incident prompt an investment in SCIwatch, which alerted the company to five systems in Florida that had a similar problem. It was a $1,000 service call to fix the situation, compared with the $5,000 to $10,000 that Neiman Marcus would have had to pay if those systems had failed, according to Wolins.

The software is also being used by Santa Clara County. With the first two weeks of usage, SCIwatch determined that close to a quarter of the county's Variable Air Volume (VAV) devices were failing. These are the pieces of equipment that is used to control the capacity of HVAC systems. This link will lead you to the complete case study about how Santa Clara is using the software.

Scientific Conservation offers its software as a service. It focuses on the following tasks:

  • Monitoring HVAC, lighting and meters for system faults or just alerts that are out of whack with normal operating procedure.
  • Optimizing energy efficiency parameters and prioritizing maintenance.

You are billed per building footage and on the number of devices that are being tracket. The first-year fee for a 100,000-square-foot building, for example, might run somewhere around $15,000, with an ongoing fee of about $9,000 per year. But these prices are only examples.

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