Wi-Fi data Converting Software For Energy Savings

Scientists from the University of Columbia have used Wi-Fi to determine the number of building occupants. The system relies on occupant count that can vary airflow in a room by consuming less energy.

Wi-Fi data Converting Software For Energy Savings
The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre library. Credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

For the first ever time, scientists from the University of British Columbia have used Wi-Fi data to determine the number of building occupants and saved energy without compromising on air quality. The Wi-fi data converting software actually relies on an occupant count. The occupant count is the control system that can vary the airflow to a room. In addition, it can ramp it up for a busy lecture, or down during the times in between.

Stefan Storey, a mechanical engineer from UBC said, “Every day, thousands of smartphones, laptops, and tablets connect to the Wi-Fi network at UBC. Our Bridge software anonymously counts the number of wireless devices in each room and passes the counts on to UBC’s building control system, which then adjusts airflow through the relevant building, practically in real time.”

The Wi-Fi data converting software also highlights the potential benefits of using Wi-Fi systems to create smart buildings.

Scientists test the software at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre library by involving thousands of students and staff members. They found that it consuming less energy by five percent over a period of 12 months. That means it saves energy while maintaining air quality and occupant comfort.

His new system is also efficient at reducing, greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of tons. By doing this, it saves as much as $100,000 in energy costs per year for core campus buildings. UBC is installing the technology in 10 more buildings over the next several months.

Woodson said, “This Wi-fi data converting software uses the existing Wi-Fi network to provide good air quality and thermal comfort, so costs are lower and disruption is less compared to other occupancy detection technologies.”

Storey said, “As far as I know, this is the first technology in North America to use Wi-Fi access points as a sensor network and as a way to communicate with building control systems. As we continue to develop it, we can help many more buildings become much more responsive to occupant needs.”