Getting Ahead of the Weather: Jean-Marie Bergeal on the Predictive Approach to Emissions Reduction

Forty percent of all carbon emissions still stem from buildings. The DCSEU spoke to Jean-Marie Bergeal of MeteoViva Inc to learn how intelligent, software-based solutions provide a predictive approach to emissions reductions.

Forty percent of all carbon emissions still stem from buildings. With the urgent need to reduce emissions in order to prevent global warming and its disastrous consequences, cities need innovative solutions that reduce energy consumption. The DCSEU spoke to Jean-Marie Bergeal, CEO of MeteoViva Inc, which uses intelligent, software-based solutions and weather forecast data to optimize buildings’ HVAC operations and significantly reduce their carbon footprints.

What is MeteoViva?

Simply put, MeteoViva uses weather forecast data to optimize a building’s HVAC operation, scooping significant energy use and emissions reductions. It’s an Internet of Things-based (IoT), predictive control technology for building HVAC equipment. The core research was completed at the University of Aachen, in Germany, where the company originated. MeteoViva addresses the energy management needs of individual buildings, campuses, and real estate portfolios.

How has MeteoViva technology been implemented in Washington, DC?

American University (AU) implemented the technology in the McKinley Building and achieved energy savings of 36%, with a 42% reduction in carbon emissions in the first year. And the second-year energy savings reached 41%, after the University let us access additional controls. We are pleased to help AU reach its carbon neutrality goal (it is now the first carbon-neutral university in the United States). And with this first success, the university has given us the green light for a second building. We are also having several conversations with other DC ratepayers, hoping to help DC meet its energy and climate goals in the process. We are very thankful for the DCSEU’s support and verification of the savings.

Who else has been using this technology around the world?

Originating from Germany, the company, of course, has many buildings there. This includes the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Generali, the DHL headquarters, multiple buildings at auto manufacturers like BMW and Daimler, as well as Airbus and the four largest airports in Germany. In the US, we are expanding at an accelerated pace, with a focus on office buildings, but also with university campuses and airports.

What is revolutionary about MeteoViva's technology?

Two components that make MeteoViva particularly innovative are its predictive approach: where we factor in the weather forecast, and the fact that it is based on an explicit thermodynamic model of the building. That means that the technology will adjust the delivery of heating or cooling predictively, anticipating the effects of daily outside temperature variations, solar radiation, and building occupancy. The idea that a predictive approach can yield significant savings has been around for some time, but not many companies have really implemented it year-round - and I do not know of any with our track record. The innovative part is best exemplified by MeteoViva’s stunning results: 20% savings across its building portfolio, with an average payback of two years. That is, so far as I know, unheard of. We believe this type of technology will be standard in all large buildings in the next 10-15 years. And we continuously add new functionalities to address an ever-increasing range of building types and portfolios.

What problems can this technology help us solve?

While the reduction in energy consumption and in CO2 emissions is what most customers focus on, many of our customers also see great value in the increased comfort as evidenced by significant reductions in "too hot" or "too cold" complaints. Not only is there a productivity benefit, but the management of the building also benefits from the reduction of complaints associated with temperature, which translates into operating cost reductions and an increase in the value of the building.

What does the ideal building for MeteoViva technology look like?

Most buildings actually can benefit from the technology. The DC climate, with its variability, is a good environment for this predictive technology. Larger buildings also present an attractive opportunity as the potential savings are more significant. Interestingly, age is not so much a factor, as the savings are often proportionally larger despite implementation costs that are often a little higher.

Where do you see the technology in a few years?

Beyond a widespread adoption in the market, and becoming a quality label similar to a LEED certification, we see the technology becoming a tool to manage real estate portfolios' energy needs and indoor comfort. It is will also become an instrument to navigate the increasingly complex energy landscape. This includes renewables such as wind and solar which produce energy intermittently, the adoption of thermal and battery storage, and the more complex tariff structure needed to help match supply and demand. Finally, as time-of-use tariffs and Demand Response are introduced by energy suppliers and grid operators to address capacity and reliability problems, MeteoViva will deliver the technology to help ratepayers navigate complex tariffs and understand and quantify the tradeoffs they face. For example, once all potential load-shifting (that is, precooling) has been exhausted, how much of a rise in temperature is acceptable in exchange for the revenue offered in a Demand Response program?

 

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