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IoT Monitors Human Behavior in Carbon-Neutral Building

Researchers and management at Canada's Evolv1 building are using Internet of Things technology from eleven-x to track and analyze data regarding the impacts sustainable features might have on comfort and productivity, as well as the behaviors of tenants occupying the new structure.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 11, 2019

After a sustainable building is constructed and occupied, building owners typically do not have a clear view into how tenants utilize that structure. They know not whether occupants are using its features the way they were intended, or how the sustainable design impacts their well-being.

A team of public- and private-sector researchers in Canada are using Internet of Thing (IoT) technology to bring visibility into the day-to-day operations of a new carbon-neutral building, known as Evolv1, located in Waterloo, Ontario. With wireless sensors employing low-range wide-area network (LoRaWAN) technology from eleven-x, they can determine actual lighting, noise and temperature levels in real time, as well as water consumption, waste production, how specific rooms are being used and whether people are using the stairs or elevators. The data captured by the technology will afford researchers a view into the behavior of a building's occupants, as well as their interactions with it, long after construction is completed.

The Evolv1 building is employing IoT technology to track and analyze data regarding the impacts sustainable features might have on comfort and productivity. Evolv2 is Cora Group's next building, planned for the coming years.
Evolv1 is a 100,000-square-foot urban space owned by The Cora Group. The developer has worked with a team of public- and private-sector groups to create a carbon-neutral structure that can serve as one test case for other such buildings around the world. A second building, Evolv2, is planned for the future.

The project leadership team includes Sustainable Waterloo Region and the University of Waterloo's David Johnston Research + Technology Park. The group helped design and construct the LEED Platinum building with an aim toward achieving not only a low or neutral carbon footprint, but a net positive. Another college in the region, Wilfrid Laurier University, has been working with the team to help accomplish this goal. Construction was completed this year and the building is now 95 percent occupied.

The structure is located in Waterloo's IdeaQuarter, where several technology brands are located, including BlackBerry, Google, Opentext and Huawei. The sustainable building is intended to test and demonstrate how to build sustainability into a structure, as well as how those features are used and to what benefit, according to Manuel Riemer, a Wilfrid Laurier University associate professor of community psychology and sustainability science, who is leading the behavioral research at Evolv1.

"For me, this was an interesting opportunity to understand the human elements" of a sustainable building, Riemer says. A building does not always perform as well as might be expected based on its structural features, he explains, which means occupants may not be using the services within the building the way they were intended. "Another gap is in understanding of how people actually experience the building," such as whether it affects mood and productivity, for instance.

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