UH Utilizes Blue Pillar’s Energy IoT Platform
Blue Pillar, the leading Internet of Things (IoT) network solutions provider for IoT data and control systems, and Elemental Excelerator, a Hawai‘i-based startup accelerator that co-funds and co-develops projects that improve infrastructure and sustainably enhance communities, announced the completion of an Energy Internet of Things (IoT) platform across the University of Hawaiʻi System’s 10 campuses.
Blue Pillar’s Energy IoT platform provides the UH Office of Energy Management (OEM) with enhanced visibility into its energy usage by centralizing data across disparate systems and equipment. With funding support from Elemental Excelerator, the Blue Pillar energy network is a foundational component of the University of Hawaiʻi’s goal to achieve net zero energy use by 2035. The project helps advance the university’s strategic sustainability priorities, which focus on energy data management, energy efficiency, and expanding its renewable energy portfolio. The platform collects and analyzes data from more than 30 of the most energy-intensive buildings across UH Mānoa and is integrated with:
- Utility substation monitoring,
- 75 multi-building electric sub-meters,
- 30 building automation systems from multiple manufacturers, and
- 44 solar photovoltaic systems and solar inverters.
This is one of the first university projects in the world with a vendor agnostic IoT energy platform aggregating such a wide array of distributed assets, systems and equipment.
“The University of Hawaiʻi project was truly a phenomenal showcase for us to demonstrate how Blue Pillar’s platform could be used to achieve sustainability goals. The ability to highlight how our system could integrate not just to equipment, but dozens of building automation systems has paved the way for a whole new set of conversations with customers looking for similar functionality,” notes Eric Reichel, Blue Pillar’s project lead and vice president of customer success. “The new IoT network provides energy managers with a central data repository for all energy data regardless of asset type, manufacturer or communication type. From directly connecting to an asset, to IP based building automation systems, to integrations with third-party, cloud-based applications, the Aurora IoT network provides a scalable way to collect energy data.” Blue Pillar entered the Hawai‘i market as a part of Elemental Excelerator’s Demonstration Track in 2017. The company launched this solution with the University of Hawaiʻi and has since scaled it to several other universities and healthcare systems.
Blue Pillar’s Energy IoT platform enables the collection of over 2,600 new data points every second. The UH OEM has used that new data to significantly reduce the amount of human-hours needed for monthly inspections, meter readings, and manual data input; improved the accuracy of the readings; and includes power quality and analytics as part of the automated reporting. Before this partnership with Blue Pillar, the meters were read manually, with a pen and clipboard at each of the buildings on campus, and later typed into a spreadsheet, vulnerable to all sorts of errors along the way. Now, the UH OEM has an automated database with precision energy and power quality readings, synchronously tracking multiple buildings in one centralized system. This is all a part of UH’s energy management strategy that helps get the $400+ million research university to its net zero goal.
The UH OEM has already used this data to create a baseline on energy consumption and will continue to mine this data to optimize strategies for energy and cost savings for the University of Hawaiʻi.
“One of the first steps in strategic energy management is getting control of your data. This project allowed us to do that,” said Miles Topping, director of energy management for the University of Hawaiʻi’s Office of Sustainability. “You cannot manage what you cannot measure, so now that we can see what’s working efficiently and what’s not, we will be able to make better decisions. Having this data at our fingertips is a turning point for sustainability and energy performance at UH.”
“Our goal with funding these kinds of projects is to buy down the risk for public and private sector entities who want to try something new,” said Dawn Lippert, chief executive officer of Elemental Excelerator. “We know that good data is a foundation of our clean energy transition in Hawai’i and globally. Deploying new technology to get a handle on data, like UH has done in this project with Blue Pillar, helps local organizations manage their operations and costs—and has the larger impact of benefitting Hawai’i’s economy by accelerating our transition away from expensive fossil fuels.”