Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Making smart HVAC installation child’s play, literally

Steve Rogerson
June 13, 2017

Some may claim that setting up a smart HVAC system is child’s play but an elementary school in Minnesota decided to put that to the test. Cyprus Classical Academy gave eight- and nine-year-old students the task of installing the school's HVAC control system.
In a partnership with 75F, a local building automation company, the school decided to expand its stem programmes beyond textbooks, online research and classroom experiments.
Cyprus teachers saw this installation as an opportunity to teach their students about the real-world applications of stem, including the importance of energy efficiency and air quality. The renovation not only created a unique learning experience for the students, the system could save Cyprus nearly fifty per cent annually on its HVAC energy expenses.
While traditional control systems take years to get certified and master, 75F has created a product that's as easy to set up as an iPhone. For the eight- and nine-year-old kids accustomed to playing with touch devices all day long, setting up the system was intuitive.
"Cyprus Classical Academy offers one of the most unique, advanced and rigorous learning environments in Minnesota," said Michelle Wallick, principal of Cyprus Schools. "Discovering and partnering with 75F was a fantastic fit for us. We are now able to solve a real challenge for our school building while giving our students a stem experience they can't get anywhere else."
Like many older buildings, Cyprus Classical Academy's 1300 square metre location deals with hot and cold spots and rooms feeling stuffy. Based on classroom layouts, large windows, insulation and inefficient placement of thermostats, the school's HVAC expenses were very high and temperature comfort was difficult to maintain.
"Cyprus Classical Academy deals with a lot of HVAC issues that we see in many aging buildings here in the midwest," said Deepinder Singh, CEO of 75F. "After some simple measurements, our team knew immediately that we could save the school thousands of dollars every year by installing smart HVAC controls, while improving air quality and comfort."
Cyprus students met with 75F technicians to discuss HVAC concepts and challenges. They analysed the building and observed how the system was configured. For the students, one of the highlights was drilling holes in their classroom walls to install sensors and running up step ladders to install equipment in the ceiling.
After watching an instructional video, the students paired the sensors and control units together through the school wifi. They even hand drew a floor plan of the school and uploaded it to the 75F portal as a part of the commissioning process.
As of the start of this month, about forty per cent of the project was complete. Additional student-led installations are planned throughout the summer for the remaining classrooms.
A high-tech start-up, 75F says it is disrupting the building automation industry by taking a fresh approach to HVAC, lighting and other controls in commercial buildings. Its mission is to save energy, while improving comfort and air quality. The company was founded in 2012.