Joe Short of Demand Logic receiving its award from Ian Simm of Impax Asset Management.

While energy efficiency in buildings is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions, mining through the information generated by Building Management Systems (BMS) can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Demand Logic has created a cloud-based system that plugs into the BMS and finds the so-called ‘energy insanities’ such as heating and cooling a room simultaneously. This allowed King’s College London to save £390,000 off its annual energy bill and for Demand Logic to save 2,750 tonnes of CO yearly.

Demand Logic’s innovative approach to making sense of the masses of environmental data available for modern buildings is dramatically cutting energy bills for their impressive list of clients. It’s a fantastic example of the huge potential of the green economy.

Ashden judging panel

Context

Mining the information generated by most building management systems (BMS) found in large commercial buildings is usually like looking for a needle in a haystack. Many businesses waste huge opportunities to save energy and money. But Demand Logic has created a cloud-based system that plugs into the BMS and quickly identifies what it describes as ‘energy insanities’, like rooms being heated and cooled at the same time, or faulty equipment. Demand Logic then works with the building management team to develop a plan to fix them. This can generate huge savings: one of Demand Logic’s clients, Kings College in London, has cut an estimated £390,000 off its annual energy bill.

Mike Darby holding a Logic Box at a client's offices.

Impact

In 2013 Demand Logic launched its system to make sense of the vast quantity of data produced by a BMS. A device is installed alongside the BMS to stream data from it about the building and services. This data is uploaded to Demand Logic’s cloud server, where its software processes and analyses it, producing graphical representations of the building’s energy use. The building manager can then see at a glance when heating and cooling systems are running outside normal working hours, when rooms are not being maintained at the correct temperature and much more. Action can then be taken to eliminate energy wastage. 

Demand Logic systems are currently installed at 26 sites, with a total floor area of about 230,000 m2. In March 2015 the actions already taken by clients to tackle problems identified by Demand Logic were saving about 2.8 GWh of electricity, 6.3 GWh of gas and £500,000 annually, avoiding about 2,750 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. Potential actions which had been identified but not yet acted on were expected to boost these annual savings to 7.6 GWh of electricity and 17 GWh of gas, which would avoid about 7,450 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Demand Logic clients can usually expect to save at least 10% on their energy bills.

Detail

Demand Logic’s system can bring lower energy bills for tenants, while landlords can track down malfunctioning equipment quickly, saving money on maintenance work. The system is also beneficial for building developers, as it can be used during the commissioning of a building to check that equipment has been correctly installed and configured. Following that, it can be used as part of the building handover, demonstrating to the owner how the building systems are working and tracking down any snags to be fixed. 

Demand Logic’s system is unique in the UK – no competitor offers compatibility with a wide range of BMS models, quick installation and in-depth analysis of the data that is captured. The company has been growing quickly in the past year, and is already exploring opportunities in the USA, where it is gaining sales despite tougher competition.

Business model

Demand Logic offers its system as ‘software as a service’ – clients pay an installation fee and an annual charge, which includes a basic level of consultancy to support them. Further consultancy can be purchased if the client wants additional technical assistance to deal with the issues the Demand Logic system is highlighting to them. The fees charged vary in proportion to the size of the building being monitored, and are set at a level such that all clients can make savings on their energy bills that are considerably greater than the cost of using Demand Logic. Although the biggest savings are made in the first year, when major errors are corrected, clients continue their subscriptions after this to avoid slipping back into wasting energy.

The speed of deployment on one of our sites was overnight. Compared to other providers, the system is simple, effective and straightforward and it makes both us and our tenants feel more comfortable that our building systems are being run properly.

Charlie Railton, Senior Engineer, Land Securities

Installation

The Demand Logic hardware can be installed in a few hours, after which all operations can be carried out remotely. Once installed, the system starts ‘learning’ about the BMS it is connected to, interpreting the names of the streams of data it is receiving, and speeding up the setup process – it is usually completed by the morning after the installation. Demand Logic’s system works with the majority of existing and new BMS installations; it supports the BACnet communications protocol that many BMS vendors use, and also the proprietary protocol used by Trend BMS. Security is important, and clients’ data is uploaded to Demand Logic’s cloud server via an encrypted connection, either using a network present in the building or the mobile phone network. 

FT building plant room.

Data analysis and presentation

Demand Logic’s software processes the data coming in from the BMS and turns it into graphical representations that are easy to understand (see right). For example, the ‘major plant watchdog’ shows when plant like large boilers or chillers is running outside of normal working hours, while the ‘rogue finder’ identifies rooms where energy use for heating or cooling is high and where the temperature is not close to the desired level. The graphical representations of data, displayed in a web browser, make it easy to spot problems and enable the user to click on the identified rooms or plant items to see more details and determine what action to take. Virtual meters can also be created, for example showing an estimate of energy used by all ventilation fans, or by cooling on a specific floor of a building.

In five years’ time I want to look out over the London skyline and be able to point in any direction and say we have reduced massively the energy wastage in that building and that building and that building - and that’s enough to turn off an entire power station. The magnitude of savings possible is staggering.

Joe Short, CEO, Demand Logic

2017 Update:

Demand Logic have broadened their service which is a sector-wide trend. It is about more than energy, looking now at comfort, productivity, wellbeing and maintenance. They have quantified the effect of comfort levels on productivity as a tool to show the benefit to customers e.g. a 0.5% drop in productivity across a large office can have a 7-figure effect. Focusing on maintenance allows them to identify malfunctioning equipment easily and this then has a life cycle effect.

New data shows:

  • Savings of up to 30% off fuel bills, resulting in £1.2 million saved annually by their clients (£500,000 when they won)
  • 1,000,000 m2 of floor space monitored (230,000 m2 when they won)
  • 6,000 tonnes of CO2 saved annually (2,750 tonnes when they won)
  • 50% fall in comfort complaints within buildings
  • Clients now include TfL, UCL, The Crown Estate, Canary Wharf Group, BNP Paribas and the Walkie Talkie!
  • Turnover has increased by over 300% since winning the award last June