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New Tech Diagnoses ‘Broken’ Buildings

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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Three Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. alums aim to “make buildings better” by arming operators with a performance data system that can pinpoint energy wasters and reduce annual costs by nearly 10 percent.

The data come from a new diagnostic tool that the team began developing while they were MIT doctoral students in 2010. The tool tracks building performance down to the equipment level.

“All buildings are broken,” according to the co-founders of KGS Buildings, an MIT spinoff company.

MIT Media Lab Complex
Andy Ryan / MIT News Office

In a year-long trial at one MIT building, the software saved the school $286,000, according to MIT.

Energy wasted through faulty or inefficient equipment can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoidable annual costs, the building scientists say.

A recent MIT announcement highlighted the company's development and reported on its growth.

How the System Works

KGS's flagship product is Clockworks, a cloud-based software system the team began developing at MIT in 2010.

The system uses various sensors to detect breaks, leaks, inefficiencies and energy-saving opportunities on a building’s equipment—specifically in heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

Facility managers, equipment manufacturers and operators view and share the data—visualized in graphs, metrics and text that explain the monetary losses, according to the scientists.

The system provides operators with the information to make decisions regarding equipment repairs and efficiency measures.

Software
KGS / MIT News Office

The team began developing the Clockworks performance management system in 2010. KGS is one of the few companies gathering "equipment-level data," according to MIT.

“The idea is to make buildings better, by helping people save time, energy, and money, while providing more comfort, enjoyment, and productivity,” said MIT Building Technology Program graduate Nicholas Gayeski, who co-founded KGS with Sian Kleindienst and Stephen Samouhos.

300+ Buildings

MIT reports that the software is now operating in more than 300 buildings in nine countries, collecting more than 2 billion data points monthly.

KGS estimates these buildings will save an average of 7 to 9 percent in avoidable costs per year.

“If it’s a relatively well-performing building already, it may see lower savings; if it’s a poor-performing building, it could be much higher, maybe 15 to 20 percent,” said Gayeski.

In a year-long trial for one MIT building, the software saved the school $286,000, according to MIT.

In May, the university commissioned the software for more than 60 of its buildings, monitoring more than 7,000 pieces of equipment over 10 million square feet, the institute reported.

KGS Buildings
KGS / MIT News Office

The KGS Buildings' team met while competing in the Department of Energy's 2007 Solar Decathlon. From left are partner-cofounders Nick Gayeski, Sian Kleindienst and Stephen Samouhos; and John Anastasio (partner and CTO).

Other customers include health-care and life-science facilities, schools and retail buildings.

Headquartered in Somerville, MA, KGS has 16 employees and continues to grow. The company plans to expand the performance-management system to residential applications.

   

Tagged categories: Building science; Computer generated modeling; Energy efficiency; Green building; Maintenance + Renovation; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Retrofits; Software

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