Agilewaves' Software Measures Green Roof Performance

Agilewaves' Software Measures Green Roof Performance

Agilewaves Inc. has deployed a building monitoring system on an elementary school to measure the structure's resource consumption and green building features while teaching students about design and conservation.

Agilewaves brought Resource Monitor software to Nueva School in Hillsborough, Calif. The school's new Hillside Learning Complex boasts a 30 kW solar system and two living roofs designed by Rana Creek of Carmel Valley.

The school represents the company's largest installation. To date, Resource Monitor has been deployed mostly in residential settings but the technology has the potential to make a big splash in the commercial sector, said Agilewaves CEO Peter Sharer.

"There is greater potential to save money (in commercial buildings)," Sharer said. "We're definitely headed in that direction."

Resource Monitor is highly customizable and draws from the experiences of the company's partners. Sharer and Chief Technology Officer David Brock, for instance, both spent years at NASA inventing data acquisition systems while performing atmospheric studies.

The technology works like this: physical sensors, placed in key areas, deliver data to a display screen or website to give users a visual image of the building's performance. At Nueva School, which is expected to receive LEED-Gold certification, the device will monitor its two living roofs to evaluate their performance, such as taking measurements of temperature, soil moisture and humidity, and the flow and quality of stormwater from the roof. Real-time delivery of gas, electricity and water use data also will be provided.

The software also will be serve as a teacher of sorts for the school's green building curriculum, said Lisa Dettloff, a part-time science advisor. Students were given the opportunity to offer their input on the dashboard design but have yet to see it in action. "It's something they're really excited about," Dettloff said.

The software has the potential to deliver information in a way that will impact the behavior of the users, Sharer said. Beside deploying the software in the commercial building sector (it also is being used in an architect's office), the company's goal involves making it affordable and accessible to more homeowners. Its base price is in the $3,000 to $5,000 range but a typical residential installation can cost around $15,000.

Brock even envisions more non-traditional applications, such as in social networking communities. "I would love to develop some kind of MySpace plug-in so people can share what they're doing in terms of conservation," Brock said.