In Tempe, Arizona, work has started on an exciting project that will deploy advanced building optimization strategies in a multi-family residential building complex. The Tempe project is noteworthy for several reasons. First, the project is a cooperative effort between the Tempe building’s owner, FCP® (a privately held real estate investment company based in Maryland) & Tides Equities (a privately held real estate investment company based in California); and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Second, and this will come as no surprise to regular readers of our blogs, the project is notable because it will use the open-source VOLTTRON technology to manage the optimization and peak demand limiting applications deployed at the site. Third, the type of applications being deployed at the Tempe site are most often deployed in commercial buildings and not in residential buildings.

Partnership Between FCP and PNNL

The Tempe project is funded by the U.S Department of Energy through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). As parties to the CRADA, FCP and PNNL have each committed to the joint 18-to-24-month project. FCP is investing in new equipment and contributing project management and facilities management expertise to the project. PNNL is leveraging its unique resources and expertise to refine and optimize two applications—Set Point Optimization (SPO) and Peak Demand Limiting (PDL)–that will enhance the efficiency and operation of HVAC equipment at the Tempe building. The project’s goals include improving the operation of FCP’s Tempe property and assessing the impact and commercial viability of the SPO and PDL applications developed by PNNL.

From ACE IoT’s perspective, it is an encouraging development to see private equity firms with national profiles investing in cooperative research and development efforts in this space. Leveraging their building portfolios, companies like FCP and Tides have the potential to bring tremendous scale to efforts designed to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in buildings. According to Jeff Robertson, FCP’s Vice President for Asset Management, FCP’s decision to execute the CRADA with PNNL reflects FCP’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

FCP believes that environmental sustainability provides significant benefits to our residents, our investors, and the planet as a whole. HVAC systems present a high-value opportunity to reduce energy consumption, and we are excited to work with the subject matter experts at PNNL in producing real savings for our residents and the environment.

–Jeff Robertson, Vice President, Federal Capital Partners


The Tempe project will use the open-source Eclipse VOLTTRON platform to integrate all the HVAC devices on the property. ACE IoT Solutions is pleased to be a partner to PNNL and FCP and will be responsible for establishing, monitoring, and maintaining the VOLTTRON instances via ACE IoT’s cloud platform. ACE IoT will create an independent data layer on which the SPO and PDL applications will run. The independent data layer operating at the building site will allow the applications and the HVAC devices to communicate and will also enable control of the HVAC equipment. Finally, VOLTTRON will also collect energy consumption data from an array of sensors and sub-meters to calculate total energy consumption in real-time.

Energy Efficiency, Carbon Reduction and Building Optimization in Residential Buildings

At the core of the CRADA funding for the Tempe project is the recognition that advanced optimization strategies must be implemented in both commercial and residential buildings. Indeed, a January 2017 article published in National Geographic estimates that 70% of the world’s population will live in high-rise buildings by 2050. If cities, states, and countries are to meet aggressive carbon emission reduction goals, residential buildings must not be left behind.

The Tempe project is designed to demonstrate that mature and well-tested approaches to optimizing commercial buildings can also produce results in residential buildings. The project will use the SPO and ILC applications to control the HVAC equipment in the building and create significant reductions in energy usage and costs without impacting occupant comfort. According to Osman Ahmed, Ph.D., P.E., Principal Technology Advisor, PNNL, a key to successfully optimizing residential buildings is the intelligent control of HVAC equipment.

Intelligently calculating set-points for common spaces using data inputs including weather and occupancy and applying dynamic load shaping to prioritize controllable loads will allow the project team to optimize the buildings while maintaining space comfort.

–Dr. Osman Ahmed, Principal Technology Advisor, PNNL

In future posts, we will provide updates on this exciting project. In the meantime, to learn more about how your organization can utilize the open source VOLTTRON technology, please visit or email Bill Maguire

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