Even for a relatively simple building such as a box retail store, the cost of a basic automation system starts at more than $10,000. That's a lot of capital to invest for energy efficiency, and many building owners and operators simply decide to do without. Instead, they install a basic programmable thermostat for each rooftop HVAC unit. While that solves their construction cost problem, it creates an even greater one -- the thermostat typically doesn't stay programmed at the ideal stepping or schedule, and it can't be easily monitored. In fact there's no immediate data available from the site. Energy managers have to rely on month-old utility bills to try and divine what is happening in their sites. Can we use new technologies (cloud, wireless, low-cost sensor hardware) to change the paradigm and drive capital costs toward zero? What would a "virtual" building automation system look like, and can it deliver value to commercial building owners and operators? Such a system would need to be cloud-based. Keeping the intelligence in the cloud vs. in hardware devices located on-site allows buildings systems to be “updated” based on the latest analytics results. Additionally, it could reduce the cost of the site-based hardware by focusing it on data acquisition and basic asset control.
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