Intelligent Building Systems LLC
While many companies focus on improving HVAC, electrical or lighting efficiencies, few combine them into one holistic building solution. This market gap inspired Brian Donegan and his partner, Nermin Smajlovic, to established Intelligent Building Systems LLC (IBS) in April 2015. The small startup has seen big potential in under a year of operation, serving the greater Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia, areas.
As a member of the local James River chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), IBS is on a mission to deliver high-efficiency green technologies to make building systems operate smarter, as one cohesive group. “We understand commercial buildings have complex and dynamic systems requiring custom solutions,” says Donegan, president and CEO of IBS. “We pride ourselves on bridging the gap between HVAC and energy markets, integrating whole buildings together for effective management.”
Filling a void in the energy management marketplace
Donegan’s interest in energy management and efficiencies began during his 16 years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard. “As part of the naval engineering community, my duties were related to overseeing some sustainability projects and requirements, including facility energy management,” he recounts. “In my last duties I delved deeply into energy service performance contracts, playing an integral role in streamlining the process and finding ways to improve the way the Coast Guard looked at sustainability.”
When Donegan left the Coast Guard he joined a contractor and worked in building automation. “I’ve always wanted to go into business on my own, so Nermin and I conceived the idea of IBS when we noticed these gaps in the energy services market,” he says.
“There are plenty of HVAC contractors, but no one trying to bridge the gap between disciplines, including electrical and lighting,” adds Donegan. “For example: when you walk into a large hospital you will see a different control platform for HVAC, electrical, security, etc. All of these systems require different expertise to work on them. We want to be able to provide resources to bring these things together.”
Out of this void in the energy marketplace, and what Donegan says is a huge passion for high efficiencies, especially in daylight harvesting, IBS has started to take off. “There’s a significant lack of daylight harvesting services in our area,” he says. “This is another area we really want to help customers with.”
Turn off the lights and turn on the savings
For now, IBS has honed in on the commercial market, particularly in office spaces. “We’re looking to expand into the residential side and possibly federal contracts, but right now our main market is the commercial arena,” says Donegan.
IBS is working with major manufacturers, such as 3M to develop products that help solve facility daylighting challenges. “We’re working with 3M on a light redirecting film for daylight harvesting,” says Donegan. “Our goal is to come into the client’s office building and get rid of so many lights and maximize day light penetration. But, this presents some challenges including the amount of heat entering the building and the uncomfortable glare on computer screens. Typically, light can only penetrate so far into a building.”
With the help of the 3M light redirecting film, IBS can maximize the amount of sunlight filling up an office space. “This is a brilliant product that we have a lot of interest in and it can dramatically reduce the glare on screens directly near the windows.”
“Not only is this helping in terms of energy savings, but it also translates to occupant health and happiness,” considers Donegan. “Studies prove that people respond better to natural light and are even more productive.”
Whether it’s natural light or more efficient artificial light, IBS can find the right solution. At Keswick Hall, just miles outside of downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, the company performed a recent retrofit project replacing an aging control platform. “Keswick is also interested in switching to LED lights,” says Donegan. “As a high-end hotel, they want to have a warm kind of intimate atmosphere. The reduction in cost could be quite substantial. They are also going to revisit their HVAC controls platform and adjust it to control other things such as the management of exterior lighting and the ability to manage vacant rooms remotely.”
In addition to these first few projects, IBS recently deployed two applications that will manage and track its own truck fleet. “Keeping track of a fleet is one of the things that general contractors always struggle with – so these apps not only hold the fleet accountable via GPS, but it is also streamlines the tax reporting process,” adds Donegan.
After joining the local USGBC chapter shortly after forming, IBS has positioned itself as an emerging player in holistic facility solutions. “Our goal is to get multiple LEED certifications,” says Donegan. “We may be able to attain certain LEED credits for Keswick through the work we’re doing at the facility.”
While IBS is still in startup mode, Donegan says the need for its services means big growth potential. “I expect to bring a lot of people on board,” he says. “I expect to have a number of credentials and to meet a lot of disciplines in the energy market.”
In less than a year, Intelligent Building Systems LLC is furthering its mission to be one of the first holistic building solutions partners focusing on reducing energy consumption and making all systems work in unison.
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