Posted Thursday, January 12, 2023 12:00 am
By Shaun Ryan
From the beginning, the link has been a unique addition to the Nocatee community. A co-working space and business incubator that offers a desirable work-life balance and numerous activities for members and nonmembers alike, the link defies facile classification.
One of the things that sets it apart is the facility itself: It’s a smart building, the key component being its use of smartengine technology from wtec. This fine mesh sensor network delivers data in real time to user-oriented applications. Its energy-efficient approach saves money and is easily upgraded according to evolving needs.
Nowhere is its impact more apparent than in the way it delivers lighting to the link. Artificial lights automatically adapt to ambient levels, keeping the illumination in constant balance and complementary to natural light admitted by the facility’s large windows. That usually means slight variations from fixture to fixture and would not be possible with traditional lighting methods.
The windows and adaptive lighting translate into an estimated 70% reduction in the cost when compared to traditional systems. And while light levels can be adjusted for special occasions, such as a large-screen video presentation, daily usage is based on one-time calibration. It’s basically “set it and forget it.”
But smartengine technology addresses more than just lighting.
“We’re a tech company that does lighting, not a lighting company that does tech,” said wtec Chief Commercial Officer Tim Miscovich.
Initially, wtec was brought in to manage the lighting, but it has added space analytics and is working on indoor air quality. The latter is especially of interest to anyone who wants to minimize the impact of another COVID-19 scenario.
And if lighting that relies on data integrated into the building management system saves money, even bigger savings are possible by addressing a building’s HVAC. Sensors designated for specific areas allow the system to adapt to current conditions.
“Is it just you and I sitting in a 10-person meeting room or is it a full meeting room?” said Miscovich. “Do the fans need to rev up to get more fresh air flowing through there? That’s where VOC (volatile organic compound) and CO2 ppm (parts per million) measurements can come in and can feed that back.”
Because these sensors provide more data points, the result is more appropriate than simply having a thermostat that may be parked behind a pole or in direct sunlight or even having the system kick on and off at predetermined times. Sensors detect motion, brightness, temperature and power consumption and deliver this data to the smartengine in real time.
“Buildings should work automatically,” said Miscovich. “You shouldn’t have to manually do everything as in the past. It should just be: When you walk in, the lights turn on. When you leave, the lights turn off. When you come in, the HVAC should optimize.”
In the case of a new building, such as the link, the system can be installed from the start so that upgrades and added tasks are possible with minimal effort. In a traditional building, an upgrade might require a major structural disruption to install pipes, conduits, lines, etc.
Wtec is a global company that does business in about 30 countries and has completed about 700 projects since 2010. Among its customers are several Fortune 100 Blue Chips.
Miscovich, who often works out of the link, has been with wtec for more than five years. He joined the company after working several years in Germany, first as an American football player and then on the trade desk of a large American bank.