McKinstry Success Story





Energy Savings

Ascent South Lake Union

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.


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The Challenge

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[1], this inability to respond in real time to occupancy results in 15% - 23% of wasted energy and CO2 emissions.


The Solution

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.

[1] * Department of Energy, “Energy Savings for Occupancy- Based Control (OBC) of Variable- Air-Volume (VAV) Systems”

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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):

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    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.

Improved Comfort

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.

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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:


Sustainably: This solution, which significantly reduces energy usage and corresponding CO2 emissions, aligns closely with McKinstry’s commitment to the Climate Pledge to reduce its annual carbon emissions to net zero before 2040. Based on the energy savings, there is the potential for up to 38% reduction of CO2 emissions from the HVAC system.

Increased air quality and comfort: With COVID, there is a heightened awareness by occupants about air quality. Traditional ventilation systems have built-in delays (up to 30 mins), and set schedules mean meetings outside of the schedule are under conditioned. By using real-time occupancy to immediately trigger HVAC and adjust the ventilation based on the number of people detected, high air quality is ensured no matter when a meeting takes place.

Building intelligence: An additional benefit of the system is the ability to use the occupancy data for space planning and other design projects. Previously people have had to estimate how much a space is used. With Nomad Go’s system they know exactly how many people use it on an hourly and daily basis.

We are excited about the opportunity Nomad Go’s technology offers our properties, our clients, and our tenants. With over 200 owned assets and over 2,000 properties under management globally, we are looking forward to expanding the use of Nomad Go and seeing improved business and environmental impact across our portfolio.

 Adrian De Smul

Senior Director of Customer Experience
& Innovation at Greystar

Image by Stephen Dawson

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