April 2021


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Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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EMAIL INTERVIEW – with Don Kasper is VP of Strategy and Business Development at Sentient Buildings, a New York-based software company and master systems integrator. Don is a mechanical engineer and is a pioneer in the field of FDD analytics in large commercial buildings. Prior to joining Sentient Buildings, Kasper ran one of the first building analytics companies in the market and has the largest analytics projects in the industry by data point count. He has built his career on working with large, notable commercial buildings across the globe. https://sentientbuildings.com/


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Sinclair: Hi Don - It's been awhile since we've caught up. What are you up to now?

Kasper: Hi Ken - great catching up. As you know, in a previous life I ran one of the pioneering FDD analytics companies in the commercial building space. Back in November I left and joined Sentient Buildings which is a software company and master systems integrator based out of New York.

Sinclair: Very interesting. I've spoken with Dave Unger (CEO) of Sentient Buildings before, can you give me a refresher on what your company does?

kasperKasper: Sure! Sentient Buildings has been around since 2014 and is working with many of the large marquis buildings in New York. We are a master systems integrator for Internet of Things (IoT) networks as well as Building Management Systems (BMS) and we've developed our Neuro platform to help buildings bring cloud services to their buildings. Uniquely, we work both in commercial and multi-family buildings. When I say we are master systems integrators, I mean that we leverage our Neuro platform to integrate equipment to the cloud and provide a software middle layer that can monitor, analyze, and even control equipment. In commercial buildings, this may be as simple as integrating their BMS systems with API data or integrating meters, sub-meters, lighting, and wireless devices for creating an overlay to the existing system. For multi-family buildings, we may integrate boiler controls with a wireless mesh network that converges heat pumps, sub-meters, window AC units, wireless thermostats, leak detection devices, and more to a single access point to provide both the landlord and tenants with powerful tools.

Sinclair: It sounds like Sentient Buildings covers a wide range of buildings and applications. Can you elaborate more on the Neuro platform and what integration services you provide?

Kasper: Our Neuro platform is really the key to our success. This allows us to be adaptable to many different buildings and really expand the definition of master systems integrator. Some of the biggest challenges we see in the industry still are that there are many disparate systems and even more partial solutions that cause fractured data within a building that often goes under utilized. Secondly, and this is true especially in multi-family buildings, is that equipment is outdated and not centrally connected. At the end of the day, our goal is to provide the tools and support in order to gather as much data as possible from systems within buildings and allow proper monitoring, analysis, and control. We're experts in deploying our Neuro platform to integrate these different data sources and then we can provide managed services on top of the platform to ensure data reliability, uptime, provide analytics, as well as control of equipment. We have a specific interest right now in Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) and building electrification, both of which are key to adapting buildings to a more efficient grid in the future and aligning with upcoming legislation such as Local Law 97 in NYC.  

Sinclair: You mentioned both adaptability and GEB buildings which caught my attention. Can you explain further?

Kasper: Our vision is to be the data manager in buildings and act as a broker of sorts to different systems. We can enable simple "If This, Then That" controls in buildings by connecting all of the various data-producing systems at the building level but also at the market level so simple interactivity can be achieved without impacting the existing controls a building. We've spent a lot of time thinking and creating our Neuro platform to help future-proof buildings and make them smarter. Another key feature of Neuro is that it has a simple but complex user management system that allows us building owners to provision access to data to any vendor or platform through our API. This user management system means that a building owner can give access to a specific device, type of data point, or any system or sub-system in the building. As an example, sub-meter data can be shared with a tenant billing company and chilled water data can be shared separately with an energy services company without having to repeat the data collection process. This makes buildings highly adaptable since there is one source of data that can be provisioned at any level to 3rd party companies. How this applies to GEB is that we can broker data between a demand response company and allow them to increase thermostats by 2 degrees through fleet management in anticipation of a demand response event.

Sinclair: This all sounds great and looks like it is fulfilling a definite need in the industry. It's been great speaking with you again - any final thoughts?

Kasper: Thank you Ken, it's been great catching up. In closing, I would just say that at Sentient Buildings we have a very practical and reliable approach to converging IoT and OT networks. Proprietary protocols, vendor lockout, and too many fractured solutions still hamper the industry and cause confusion almost all of our customers. We have some really interesting pilot projects underway that I would love to share more details with you in the coming months. Our industry seems to be a little slower to develop than others but I think climate change regulation, utility incentive programs, and many determiend companies like ours are going to keep pushing for a sea change in the industry. Technology is really starting to multiply in buildings and as we integrate more data sources, we hope to democratize data and enable many forms of technology in the future.

Sinclair: Sounds fascinating! Looking forward to hearing more in the future and please keep us updated on those pilot projects.

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