As New York City public school children return to the classroom with the promise of new knowledge and a clean slate, the school buildings themselves are on a path toward intelligence.
It’s part of an innovative First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) project that will help public school buildings in the city reduce their energy consumption through analytics.
In New York City, where buildings account for 75 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions each year, it’s unreasonable to build brand-new, energy-efficient buildings from the ground up.
But what if you could use technology to sift through critical building data to make school structures more energy efficient and more cost-effective?
Members of the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York (CUNY) asked IBM this question as they began to think about new ways to improve energy efficiency in the city’s public school buildings.
IBM’s answer was to invite them into its labs, where researchers were working on advanced analytics and statistical modeling technologies that could provide insights into the every-day operations of buildings, including energy usage. Another First-of-a-Kind project was born.
The system that was created lets facility staff track and analyze energy use, compare school buildings’ energy efficiency, forecast power needs, and run simulations on building improvements to predict the benefits of various retrofitting projects.
For example, a facilities department manager or custodian could run the tool, click on the simulation capability, and find out how much energy could be saved by replacing old, single-pane windows with double pane windows.
Also, heating energy used in one building could be compared with that of a nearby building of similar size and age. Perhaps that building serves the same number of students but consumes 20-percent less energy. To improve the less-efficient facility, facilities staff could explore retrofitting projects through computer simulations.
The CUNY project stands to benefit not only New York City’s school buildings, but also the 1.1 million students within. IBM and CUNY are training teachers on the system’s interactive features, which can help examine real energy use and translate it into tangible classroom lessons on environmental impact.
As the City University of New York is discovering, bringing greater intelligence and connectedness into a building’s operations can go a long way toward creating a truly integrated and smarter building system, while reducing energy consumption and developing energy-conscious students along the way.
And as all the FOAK projects are proving, it is the dynamic nature of this close interaction with IBM clients and the changing forces of the real world that drives innovation and brings it to market at an ever-quickening pace.