McKinstry Success Story
McKinstry is a national leader in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining high-performing buildings. From new construction and ongoing operations to adaptive reuse and energy retrofits, the company provides a single point of accountability across the entire building lifecycle. Their mission is “To make every building we touch more efficient.” In 2020 McKinstry signed The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040—a decade ahead of the Paris Accord’s goal of 2050.
Nomad Go and ATS Automation deployed Nomad Go's Visual Intelligence system at McKinstry's Seattle headquarters to control HVAC using live occupancy data (versus a set schedule). This resulted in 38% less energy use and corresponding CO2 emissions, and an increase in air quality and comfort.
Before Nomad Go
Buildings account for 40% of energy use
Buildings account for 40% of energy use & 39% of greenhouse gas emissions.
A key reason why buildings use so much energy is that HVAC is controlled using set schedules rather than actual occupancy, leading to spaces being heated, cooled, and ventilated when no one is present.
In fact, according to the Department of Energy, this inability to respond in real time to occupancy results in 15% - 23% of wasted energy and CO2 emissions.
After Nomad Go
Visual intelligence automates and optimizes building energy
Nomad Go, a Kirkland-based AI startup, has developed a solution with ATS Automation that transforms buildings into dynamic systems that respond in real time to people within a building, instantly adjusting HVAC based on occupancy for more cost-efficient, sustainable, and healthier spaces.
This is accomplished using AI combined with edge computer vision to create a real-time occupancy count converted to MQTT/BACnet that instantly controls the HVAC.
 * Department of Energy, “Energy Savings for Occupancy- Based Control (OBC) of Variable- Air-Volume (VAV) Systems” https://www.pnnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-22072.pdf
The Solution: Nomad Go, a Kirkland-based AI startup, has developed a solution with ATS Automation that transforms buildings into dynamic systems that respond in real time to people within a building, instantly adjusting HVAC based on occupancy for more cost-efficient, sustainable, and healthier spaces.
- McKinstry deployment results:
Nomad Go and ATS Automation deployed to a number of spaces within McKinstry’s headquarters, including its main conference room. Before deploying the solution, the conference room was on set scheduled mode that turned on the HVAC at 6 am and turned it off at 5pm. As a result, the HVAC was on for 45% of the weekday. Below is actual HVAC usage over one day using the set schedule (red line is HVAC status, green lines are occupancy):
- Reduced Energy Usage & CO2 Emissions
Using Nomad Go’s live occupancy control, the system only turned on HVAC when the space was occupied (once the HVAC was on, it remained on for 15-30 mins to avoid cycling the system).
In the example below, the HVAC ran for an average of 16% of the time vs. the previous 45% with the set schedule. Note that HVAC was on from 11:15 am – 2:30, and then again from 5:45 – 6:30, resulting in the HVAC running for only 4 vs. 11 hours if it was running on a set schedule - a savings of 63%. On average, occupancy over a two-month period was approximately 28%, resulting in savings of 38% over the set schedule. The reduction in energy usage also directly reduces CO2 emissions by a corresponding amount.
Improved Air Quality
In addition to reducing energy and CO2 emissions, the real-time controls improved air quality by instantaneously ventilatingthe room based on the number of people in the room. This contrasts with traditional ventilation which waits for CO2 sensors to detect people, which can take up to 30 mins. The chart below shows when outside air was used for ventilation – note that it happens the moment someone enters the room.
Additional improvements in comfort and air quality happen when meetings take place outside of set schedule hours. In the case below, there was a meeting at 7 pm. Under the set schedule, which turned off HVAC at 5pm, there would have been no HVAC for the meeting. With live occupancy control, the meeting had the right HVAC setting.
The deployment at McKinstry impacted four key areas that will help buildings become healthier, more energy efficient and sustainable:
Energy and maintenance cost reduction: By only running HVAC when there are occupants in the room, we were able to reduce HVAC usage from 45% a day to an average of 28%, representing the potential for 38% energy savings. Even as people return to the office and there is more occupancy, when these types of savings are scaled to buildings with multiple conference rooms per floor it has a huge impact on energy costs. In addition, it reduces the wear and tear on every part of the HVAC system (belts, chillers, etc.) and the maintenance of these systems.
As well as: