THE SOLUTION TO THE ENERGY CRISIS MUST START IN BUILDINGS
Sanjeevv Bhatia, CEO of Netix.ai explains how AI and IoT-led smart solutions, funding models, and multi-stakeholder participation could bring sustainability to buildings as the company launches a Sustainability Finance Model
Whenever the discourse shifts to energy crisis — rather frequently in the last few months — a quote by celebrated Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller comes to mind: “There is no energy crisis; only a crisis of ignorance.” Nothing quite captures the nature of the problem as this quote does. Seemingly, the entrenched ways and the inability to embrace sustainable transformations are the biggest obstacles hindering decisive action in addressing the energy crisis. Fuller’s quote is particularly consequential because it comes from someone who is no outsider to the built environment — buildings, which are responsible for almost one-third of total global final energy consumption.
Yet, buildings do not elicit nearly as much attention as, say, transportation does in the energy crisis context. Unlike transportation, where electrification is gaining ground, buildings’ sustainability is complex due to the long value chain and several stakeholders. But 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist. So, if anything, the focus must lie on the optimisation of energy systems in existing buildings. That is perhaps what drove Netix, a smart cities solutions provider, to launch the Sustainability Finance Model in Dubai recently and unveil its new brand identity as Netix.ai. CEO Sanjeevv Bhatia explained how AI and IoTled smart solutions, funding models, and multistakeholder participation could bring sustainability to one of the highest energy guzzlers: Buildings.
Sustainability Finance Model and its implications
“There is concrete evidence linking buildings with disproportionate energy consumption and carbon footprint. Legacy BMS and operations have allowed inefficiencies, high energy usage, and emissions to go unchecked for a long time. Using our AI and IoTenabled solutions, we have optimised such buildings without overhauling the hardware. Over the course of optimising several buildings across the globe, we analysed factors impeding large-scale sustainable transformations in the sector. Our findings inspired the launch of the Sustainability Finance Model,” explained Bhatia.
Netix.ai has partnered with one of the largest energy and automation funds in Europe, Genesis, to develop the Sustainability Finance Model, with which the company intends to fully fund the retrofitting and BAS upgrading of buildings through AI and IoT-enabled solutions, starting with the Middle East. The “funding” is intended to incentivise stakeholders in the built environment to adopt these smart solutions, which have a proven track record of enhancing efficiencies in existing systems. Bhatia believes that the first-of-its-kind model
will create a “brownfield” revolution in the region — at a magnitude required to achieve net-zero goals. In the Middle East, economies such as the UAE and KSA have pledged net-zero emissions by 2050 and 2060, respectively.
“Due to their excessive energy usage and associated carbon emissions, buildings are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of regulators and policy-makers. In global cities where the majority of the existing building stock is at least a decade or two old, bylaws seeking sustainability reports and stringent emission control are becoming commonplace. But considering the total hardware overhaul is not feasible due to excessive costs and design complexities, AI and IoT-based plug-and-play software solutions and smart retrofits have become fit-for-purpose. Netix.ai has helmed many such projects globally and achieved demonstrable positive results,” Bhatia revealed.
Unlocking higher efficiencies in existing systems
If ignorance, as Fuller puts it, is aiding the energy crisis, then raising awareness is paramount. That is achievable when there is more visibility into energyconsuming systems and processes. IoT-led integration of legacy systems and centralised operations provide decision-makers with insights pertaining to inefficient processes, faulty equipment, excessive energy consumption, anomalies, etc. This awareness incentivises timely redressal actions, leading to optimal outcomes. AI analytics churn out insights in realtime, enabling faster corrective actions. Building operators can thus effectively monitor, reduce, and optimise energy usage. Such capabilities are characteristic of a “smart building”.
In recent years, Netix.ai has emerged as the trailblaser in the “smart building” revolution, especially in the context of retrofitting old buildings, unlocking unprecedented efficiencies, and saving energy. The success, according to Sanjeevv, is owed to the company’s ability to make a business case for sustainable transformation in old buildings. Accordingly, AI and IoT-led solutions allow owners/operators to unlock significant savings in energy and future repair costs by increasing efficiencies and running the systems optimally thereon. As a result, the equipment life span is maximised — all adding to the ROI.
The technology model, Sanjeevv says, is not disruptive but adaptive. “Using our AI and ML-enabled Netix.ai Konnect platform, we upgrade the existing BMS and make it smart. In fact, our state-ofthe-art solutions reduce both CapEx and OpEx. First, the finance model entails zero CapEx and unlocks sizeable savings; second, the ‘ smart’ outcomes reduce operating costs and energy usage significantly,” Sanjeevv explained.
Netix.ai’s growing portfolio of clients and continued success is owed to such demonstrable outcomes. Its global portfolio includes 18 communities of Emaar — adding up to 120 buildings and a community of 20,000 villas — 30 towers of Damac, 77 buildings of Etisalat, Mazaya Towers, 14 sites of Lusail Command & Control Centre, Accor Hotels, and all branches of an esteemed bank in the UAE. Netix.ai’s impact-led approach was also exemplified by the Novus Partner Program that it launched in 2021, to create a dynamic ecosystem of partners, raise more awareness of retrofitting buildings, and mobilise stakeholders in the real estate sector.
“Our partnership with Genesis — one of the largest energy and automation funds in Europe — epitomises the cross-sectoral collaborations required to achieve ambitious sustainability and ESG goals. The Netix.ai Sustainability Finance Model also spells opportunities for regional real estate stakeholders to be part of the solution. When all is said and done, though, our efforts boil down to one objective: Making buildings safe, sustainable, healthy, and, most importantly, more liveable. Netix.ai will always remain committed to this righteous cause,” Bhatia concluded.
“IN GLOBAL CITIES WHERE THE MAJORITY OF THE EXISTING BUILDING STOCK IS AT LEAST A DECADE OR TWO OLD, BY-LAWS SEEKING SUSTAINABILITY REPORTS AND STRINGENT EMISSION CONTROL ARE BECOMING COMMONPLACE.”
SANJEEVV BHATIA, CEO OF NETIX.AI