IoT/IoD Lab is the open innovation laboratory activated since 2017 by the City of Torino to support the development and testing under real conditions of innovative solutions enabled by the Internet of Things in all areas of the Smart City. The experiments concern the testing of new connectivity networks, sensor networks and platforms for the analysis and representation of data collected from the physical environment. Seven projects have already started and others will be launched in the coming months. Today we meet Giuseppe Giordano, CEO and Co-founder Enerbrain, startup in Turin that has developed energy retrofit solutions for large buildings that allow drastic cuts in consumption as well as the significant improvement of indoor comfort.
What do you mean by energy retrofit of a building?
Energy retrofit is the transformation of a building that, thanks to Enerbrain, becomes a smart building in a few days.
The result is a reduction in consumption of up to 30% and a significant improvement in the comfort and quality of the air we breathe. Our system is installed in a few days, without modifying the existing ventilation, heating and cooling systems and continuously optimizes the programming thanks to an intelligent algorithm that eliminates waste.
How did the idea for Enerbrain come about?
While I was working on the design of an electrical consumption control device, I realized that another of the co-founder I was in contact with, Marco Martellacci, was developing a system for implementing and controlling boilers. So I thought that his control algorithm could be integrated into my monitoring system. Enerbrain was born from that idea.
In 2017 you were selected by the IoT IoD Call for Proposals and the collaboration with the City of Torino was started. Can you tell us about your experimentation?
The experimentation involved some typical buildings (a school, an office building and a museum) to verify the effectiveness of our system in all architectural contexts and uses. In a short time we had at our disposal the data that confirmed a considerable cut in consumption in each structure and constant comfort at different times of the day. Regardless of the number of people present. Exactly what it took to activate a large-scale installation.
What value has the dialogue with the City had for you?
For us it has had an enormous value, even symbolic. When we returned to Turin in 2015 to found Enerbrain we had the ambition to help the environment and improve the quality of the air we breathe. Today, after so many projects around the world, that dream becomes reality in our city.
According to the definition of the MIT Media Lab, the living lab is a research methodology to identify, prototype, test and refine complex solutions in real life, multiple contexts and in the evolution phase. How has this methodology had an impact on the development of your solution?
Testing our system in a real environment - even in the most extreme conditions related to extremely uneven buildings from the point of view of architectural structure - was very important because it allowed us to refine the programming of the Enerbrain algorithm. In addition to confirming the effectiveness of the system, it was very useful to deal with variables that we hadn't initially thought of.
Did your experimentation also include co-design activities with stakeholders?
The co-design activities involved above all the multiutility Iren, in the most strictly operational phase of the selection of the target buildings and the subsequent installation. The collaboration with the institutions was obviously fundamental but it mainly concerned the strategic direction of these actions.
Are there already any results? If so, which ones? If not, what results do you expect?
The results of the experimentation have confirmed the highest expectations in terms of cutting CO2, reducing consumption and improving air quality.
What is the value of the data collected? For the City? For citizens? For you?
I believe that the value of the data collected represents a patrimony not only for us but for the whole city because, demonstrating the effectiveness of our technology, it confirms that its application on a large scale can in fact significantly affect the reduction of pollution and therefore the health of citizens.
What are the next steps (for the development of your solution)?
The success of this experimentation has led to a further collaboration with Iren for the installation of the Enerbrain system in 89 buildings of the City of Turin, mainly schools and offices. We estimate that the reduction of CO2 in the next few years will be 1,400 tons per year. It will be equivalent to planting about 100,000 trees, practically twice as many as there are in the city today.
In general, what value has emerged from this experience?
I believe that this experimentation has established an important model for all future smart city projects because it has shown that energy efficiency is a goal that our cities could achieve more easily and quickly than they imagine. For us it also meant consolidating the strategic collaboration with Iren, a partnership that, also in a strategic key, will allow us to grow further in the coming years.