Aircuity, Focused on “Not Using Energy You Don’t Need,” Tracks and Streamlines Building Ventilation

7/29/10Follow @xconomy

Given that the air system at Xconomy’s offices seems noisy and erratic most days, I wasn’t that surprised to hear that most buildings are over-ventilated (a bit of information I picked up from Aircuity president and chief operating officer Rob Brierley).

But for businesses running their air systems on overload, this can be more than uncomfortable—it can be costly and harmful to the environment. That’s a problem that Newton, MA-based Aircuity is trying to fix with its ventilation control system, called OptiNet.

Aircuity’s system continuously monitors and samples air particles and sends them to a building’s data center via structured cables that keep the components of the air sampled intact. The data collected is designed to feed directly into systems, built by companies like Honeywell, that typically control ventilation in these large buildings. Based on how a sample matches up with the air quality settings the building system is programmed to meet, these systems can then more intelligently adjust their ventilation. It can also catch harmful levels of substances like carbon monoxide or organic compounds, helping facilities managers directly target the problems.

“We do with air packets what data networks do with data packets,” says Brierley, likening Aircuity’s system to how a data network packages different elements of data together to send them more efficiently to their designated targets. OptiNet tracks building air quality based on parameters like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide content, dew point, particle content, and total volatile organics composition. Originally Aircuity shipped its technology in stand-alone units for remote sampling and air monitoring, but has since shifted to permanently installing the systems in buildings to interact with ventilation controls.

Aircuity targets customers with buildings whose conditions are continually changing throughout the day due to shifts in occupancy. Those fall into five categories: commercial office buildings, research facilities, hospital and healthcare settings, colleges and universities, and public assembly, which covers facilities like government buildings, conference centers, arenas, and museums. The Aircuity system has been implemented at roughly 120 sites, Brierley says. That includes Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and New York City’s Bank of America Tower, which has nabbed LEED platinum certification, the highest LEED green building rating based on environmental performance and sustainability.

The data monitored in buildings with the Aircuity system are uploaded via an Internet connection to a knowledge center, which Aircuity also monitors remotely for all of its customers, Brierley says. The building systems automatically adjust ventilation based on this data, but Aircuity tracks the information as an additional watch-dogging measure, Brierley says.

Typically, most of these buildings pump too much air through their vents because … Next Page »

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