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A Smart Building System That Transforms Sustainability Into A Profit Driver


The global built environment generates a colossal amount of carbon emissions, and the commercial real estate sector has started to take note. Commercial offices alone account for almost 20% of the U.S.’ annual greenhouse gas emissions. Now, as government leaders and office tenants alike call for buildings to do more to reduce their impact on the environment, companies and building owners are looking for new ways to comply. There remains, however, a fear that a sustainable strategy could hurt the bottom line.

In response, sustainable operations technology firm Turntide Technologies has launched Turntide for Buildings, a full-stack intelligent building solution. The solution combines Turntide’s smart motor with automation software and cloud insights with the aim of helping businesses reach two goals: improved energy efficiency and greater business efficiency.

“Some businesses maintain an outdated misconception that they have to choose between being successful or sustainable,” Turntide Director of Product Marketing Jessica Morris said. “But forward-thinking businesses have already figured out that sustainability is a critical element of long-term business success. We provide the ability to integrate sustainability into a company’s digital strategy across its portfolio, so they can maximize both the sustainability impact and the business impact.”

Turntide’s solution starts with its Smart Motor System, which can reduce the energy consumed by an HVAC system on average by 64%, with the highest saving logged as 80%. On top of the motor, the solution provides a range of hardware including smart thermostats, indoor air quality sensors and gateway devices. All these tools feed data into a dashboard of cloud-hosted insights into how a building is performing.

The way Turntide works with property owners is to take “an evolutionary approach,” Turntide Director of Sales Marti Ogram said. The team starts by looking to install the motor, before moving on to discuss sensors and automation controls.

“Our mission with this portfolio of sustainable technology is to get the low-hanging fruit savings with the high-efficiency motor, then make the whole building more intelligent,” Ogram said. “We bring a lot of discussions to the table and start with the basics. If you’re not doing the basics such as scheduling, then let’s do that first. We want to help buildings be proactive, not reactive.”

The system can be installed in existing buildings as well as new developments, which is critical if countries around the globe are to move toward net-zero targets. While new developments are increasingly built with energy efficiency in mind, which is likely to increase as regulations come in, this will only affect a fraction of the built environment.

“The reality is that most building stock in the U.S. is older than 20 years,” Morris said. “Lots of properties haven’t been touched since they were built and have aging infrastructure and equipment. We’re looking to help customers address that.”

More Than Sustainability

Core to Turntide’s message is that improving the efficiency of buildings provides more than just environmental benefits. For example, Morris mentioned improved branding for a building owner. Tenants increasingly want to occupy sustainable buildings due to pressure from staff, customers and investors. There are also cost savings that come with efficiency.

“Sustainability can be a profit driver for businesses,” Morris said. “They can be more resilient to fluctuating energy costs and better face incoming pressures such as the need to aim for carbon neutrality. The more efficient you can be now, the more agility you will have when the unknown puts pressure on your business.”

Implementing up-to-date, smart technology can reduce the time and resources a business needs to spend fixing a problem. Ideally, a system can identify a problem itself. 

"With a skilled worker shortage, buildings benefit from having better visibility into their equipment," Ogram said. "When a problem arises, if you have information about the health of your equipment, you can take early action before problems become bigger and potentially affect business continuity. Information about your equipment also ensures that your services vendor shows up with the right parts and the right technician to get the job done on the first visit."

Ogram compared a smart building to a modern car. Today, a car can give a warning if a part is nearing expiration, while a mechanic can plug the car into a computer and detect if a part is wearing out without even opening the hood.  

“Our system can be the engine check light for a building,” she said. “In buildings, systems have long life spans — some still operate well that were implemented pre-internet. The labor pool has to manage a lot of different vintages and levels of complexity. Property managers need to optimize what they have and do more with fewer people.”

While Turntide for Buildings is new as a complete system, the components have long been used by a variety of organizations. Fifth Third Bank, for example, has implemented Turntide's Technology for Sustainable Operations at 400 of its locations across the U.S. and will do so at 300 more in 2022. The bank has not only reduced energy consumption but has reduced work orders by 15%.

More and more organizations are likely to turn their attention to energy efficiency over the next few years, as pressures from customers, governments and employees all increase. When it comes to sustainability, it can pay to be ahead of the pack.

This article was produced in collaboration between Turntide Technologies and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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