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SQ Building – Solving the Trilemma of Comfort, Energy and Operational Costs in Buildings

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SQ Building (SQ Building – Solving the Trilemma of Comfort, Energy and Operational Costs in Buildings)

Période du rapport: 2019-06-01 au 2020-06-30

Today, asset, property and facility managers do not manage to trade off the trilemma of high comfort, low energy demand and low operational costs in their buildings portfolio. This is a practical performance problem for their businesses and a huge waste of energy. Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption in Europe. In the real world, buildings perform generally much worse than their designers anticipated. This difference is known as performance gap. Focussing on the control of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling (HVAC) systems, Innovate UK found for 50 modern buildings that they “were routinely using up to 3.5 times more energy than their design had allowed for.” The main causes for this incredible gap are badly adjusted controls settings. Beyond the energy bill, these badly controlled buildings offer low thermal comfort causing a lot of work for property and facility manager. In today’s world, where almost everything is con- nected, HVAC systems are still controlled through management of complaints and regular manual tweaking.

Our solution is a software-driven service for controlling the energy systems of tertiary sector buildings. Our clients are the asset, property and facility managers of such buildings. We empower them and their tenants to trade off comfort, energy and operational costs automatically, optimally and continuously.
SQ Building works as an artificial intelligence layer on top of the existing Building Management System (BMS). It automatically and continuously optimises the building’s energy system’s control settings. It continuously learns and adapts itself to changing conditions. To do so, SQ Building combines monitoring data, user preferences, weather forecasts, and energy tariffs in real time.

SQ Building will by far outperform and eventually disrupt the way we operate buildings today. We are facing a total addressable market of €1.8bn in Europe only and very little direct competition. SQ Building reduces the energy demand and carbon footprint of buildings by 30%, it improves the comfort of people visiting and working there, and it makes the building an easy-to-control smart and flexible energy resource. While the underlying technology for optimization has been around for some time, it is now becoming a feasible business. This is because only now the energy control of buildings can be connected and dynamically optimised through the cloud.
From the initial technical proof of concept, we have now built out the necessary infrastructure to support highly automated deployments of the different hardware parts and software services the product consists of (BMS and third party data acquisition, client dashboard, operational monitoring, reporting etc), thereby significantly reducing the overhead required for activating new clients and connecting and configuring their buildings. In the same vain, we have automated the entire process from the initial connection of a building to 24/7 steering of that building -even if, for the moment, we still have human checkpoints at selected points in that process to ensure quality results and keep learning as we move forward-.

We simultaneously validated the business case by contracting several pilots at commercial -and sustainable- prices with different types of building stakeholders and laid the groundwork for convincing potential partners of the value the product brings, not only for end-users, but also for real estate investors and their technical partners.
While we learn the ropes with implementing and running these individual pilots, we have identified and are in contact with many international companies that would benefit from using our software (some because they are -possibly indirectly- involved in those pilots, some approached by our sales team) and can help us scale the service.

Internally, our development process, operational tooling, simulation models and the visibility on our performance has been gradually improving and we now reached a level of stability/consolidation where we have been able to make a start with fixing processes, performance metrics and documentation that will support our scaling efforts going forward.

We currently deployed on 29 for about 20 customers across Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain and Japan and we will deploy soon in Germany and France.
As part of the growth path, we spinned-off SQ Building from 3E under the name DeltaQ and raised 1.5M€ in fresh capital with as main investors Impact Capital (holding Piet Colruyt), Aconterra, Thomas Leysen & Khadija Nadi who joined the management team as new CEO.
The additional capital is required to grow the company to about 25 employees, further improve the product and reach the target of 2 million euro annual recurring revenue by end 2020.
Where SynaptiQ Building is implemented, technical partners have reported a reduction of the need for both reactive interventions ánd the need for manual tweaking of the BMS parameters to anticipate changing weather conditions. This means they can concentrate on more useful aspects of their jobs, are less dependent on specialized third party consultants, while still providing better comfort to the occupants of the building.
It also means our combination of machine learning, building behaviour anticipation and automated steering is an innovation the real estate world is ready for.

While it's early to make broad claims wrt the savings based on the pilots so far, the results look to be in line with our expectations, so in addition to improving the quality of life for the building occupants and support people, both the TCO for the building stakeholders and the environment in general will be positively impacted by deploying SynaptiQ Building and as a result getting better building performance with less energy.

As time progresses, we expect to demonstrate measurable societal benefits in several ways:
- Mitigation of climate change by means of CO2 reduction for the building under control
- Better energy efficiency ratings for that building
- Improved health and wellbeing, contributing to higher productivity and job satisfaction while reducing stress and illness through discomfort
- Integration with the digital single market/smart grid: the buildings under control can offer demand flexibility and empower energy prosumers
- Strengthened competitiveness and growth for our clients, thanks to energy savings and reduced operational costs
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