Wireless Sensors Help Optimize Building Energy Efficiency

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Joe Costello, Enlighted CEO and chairman, generously answered some questions for CleanTechnica about his company’s technology and its benefits. Check them out below.


1. How does your energy-saving platform work?

Enlighted’s network platform uses multi-function wireless sensors to securely collect and analyze data and report on occupancy, environment, and activity within office buildings. Based on data collected, the Enlighted Energy Manager sends intelligent profiles to each sensor to compute and adapt lighting levels. Each sensor independently and continuously optimizes the light levels based on the occupant’s presence and preference.

By deploying a sensor at each light fixture, the Enlighted system eliminates the need for extensive up-front system design and delivers much more actionable information. The sensor grid captures fine-grained energy, temperature, and occupancy data around the clock and communicates it over an independent, secure, wireless network to create a holistic picture of building usage.

2. What is Energy Savings-as-a-Service and how does your finance model work?

Enlighted recently announced an Energy Savings-as-a-Service program called the Global Energy Optimization (GEO) program, which enables companies to accomplish what they historically have not been able to for lack of budget, staff, and project return — begin saving immediately on energy costs while assuming no install costs or project risk.

With our GEO program, we provide customers with energy-saving improvements realized by the company’s leading advanced lighting control system and LEDs. The client then pays Enlighted a utility rate for the saved electricity lower than they pay their local utility provider, which ensures savings without the assumption of performance risk.

Under the program, there is a guaranteed savings of 10-20% on energy costs.

This is the first Energy Savings-as-a-Service Model offered for LED lighting and controls, and we’ve already implemented this in 228 customer sites in 30 states.

3. How does your partnership with Hitachi and Oracle and even new integration with Philips work for reducing energy costs for buildings?

Within the Building Energy and Asset Management Solution (BEAM) solution that we announced during this year’s Oracle OpenWorld, Enlighted’s system is leveraged to capture operational data from sensors on building assets. The data are then integrated into business applications, allowing facility managers to make real-time decisions based on the data. The BEAM solution, which is now offered by Hitachi Consulting and Oracle, enables companies to significantly drive down energy costs, improve asset and employee utilization, and reduce maintenance costs all at the same time.

Enlighted also recently announced integration of Enlighted’s new fixture-integrated sensors with Philips’ LED driver, by far the most widely used driver in office lighting with about 70% of the market share. The integration allows fixture manufacturers to develop lighting solutions that are both cost-effective to use and install, and simple to use. This means savings through energy controls, workplace lighting level comfort, and overall productivity increases throughout a platform of buildings. Importantly for California customers, too, this new unit also makes customers compliant with the California Title 24 mandate for energy savings.

4. What service is your company currently providing to Google?

While we can’t talk about the specifics of that deployment at this time, we’re thrilled to be working with such a forward-thinking companies like Google. We’ll be announcing others in the near future, so stay tuned.

5. On your website, it says that your customers can save up to 70% on energy bills — how is this possible?

While most traditional occupancy control strategies leave all the lights on in a zone, with even just one person present; Enlighted’s approach ensures high energy savings because the lights truly correlate to vacancy and occupancy.

The actual intelligence and control signals are sent over a wire to the controlled fixture, and the wireless network is only used to collect sensor data or change configuration. This wireless data is sent to a gateway, which relays the information via an Ethernet connection to the Enlighted Energy Manager or a virtual Enlighted server. The latter is a data repository for occupants’ preference, building usage and energy data. It monitors current energy consumption, light levels, and occupant locations and is utilized to make changes based on current or anticipated conditions.

6. How can your platform relate to employee comfort and efficiency, and how do you measure these?

Enlighted’s system was originally designed to improve energy efficiency of buildings and reduce costs. But today, some of the most innovative companies in the world have also applied the system to improving employee productivity too. They do this by enabling employees to tailor their individual workspaces through lighting controls built on top of the Enlighted platform.

Also, Enlighted changes lighting levels throughout a space based on ambient conditions, so throughout the day as the position of the sun changes, for example, lighting in the office dims or increases for the most comfortable working conditions. That way, occupants don’t experience the interruption of adjusting their lights – ideally, our customers aren’t even conscious of their light settings because they are always optimal. For those workers who actively want to adjust their environments, like workers who get migraines and prefer darker settings, they can adjust their individual environments too.

Our customers have found that lighting complaints are either significantly decreased or eliminated after installing Enlighted.

7. What new product enhancements are you working on now?

Along with these product integrations we’ve been focusing on, Enlighted and our customers have been starting to use our open API to build applications on our platform, and we’re now exploring that more and more. For example, the Enlighted team created a simple application for its own office, that anyone who works in Silicon Valley or tech can probably relate to. The app uses the sensor network to tell you which conference rooms are occupied or available, live and in real-time. That way, employees aren’t forced to wander aimlessly through the office trying to hunt down an empty conference room.

Having access to such granular environmental data opens up so many possibilities for our customers. Energy savings has been a wonderful inroad, but our customers are just starting to realize all the things they can do with their data.

8. Who is your main target audience for new customers?

Typical candidates for Enlighted’s product are companies with one million square feet of commercial space or more, and 10,000 square feet of space or more per site. Current customers include LinkedIn, Google, Starbucks, among others.

9. How many employees do you have currently and are you planning to expand?

Enlighted currently employs close to 100 employees, and is expanding to meet increasing demands for our products and services.

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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeRsol

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