Facilities, Leaptran test remote metering to track UTSA energy consumption
APRIL 7, 2020 — The Office of Facilities at UTSA has completed a six-month pilot program with Leaptran, a UTSA startup, which offered its technology to track energy usage in a specific building on campus. Now, that ability to access data remotely has made Leaptran’s tech even more advantageous and beneficial as this critical monitoring can continue without interruption from anywhere during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UTSA found that in addition to giving Facilities the ability to monitor building power performance and access it remotely, saving both travel time visiting individual meters and response time to make needed adjustments, the Leaptran smart sub-metering solution provided higher quality data than traditional meters.
The Leaptran system was installed last fall in the Multidisciplinary Studies Building, where it is metering usage by Campus Services. Dagoberto Rodriguez, energy manager, has been working with Jeff Xu, CEO of Leaptran, and Edward Hooks, COO of Leaptran, to set up and track pilot results.
“Our team wanted to assess whether Leaptran’s smart sub-metering solution was viable in providing useful and actionable data from monitoring the performance of a building power and energy flow on a small scale to the university remotely,” explained Rodriguez.
“It’s great to see the products and services of a UTSA spinout come back to benefit the university in new ways.”
The Leaptran system is an electrical metering package to acquire data, store data, transfer data and access data remotely. The package includes meter hardware, computation and communication device, and Leaptran in-house developed software.
“Leaptran’s solution is much less expensive than traditional ones, and it doesn’t have complicated electrical requirements. It’s more practical to monitor and it lines up with our requirements—to track power and energy consumptions in easily viewable reports and data which can then be shared and archived,” added Rodriguez.
A more traditional technical solution still used in complex research facilities is expensive and can be overwhelming for simpler office buildings.
The results from the six-month plot are favorable. There was a 9% drop in energy usage in the MS Building during the 2019 winter holidays, resulting in fiscal savings.
Rodriguez and Xu’s team is discussing next stages to expand the pilot, using the Leaptran system for monitoring in other buildings and leveraging other Leaptran products to remotely control energy resources and improve power flow efficiency or to explore microgrid projects on campus. For example, a smart facility will be able to gauge whether it’s occupied and when to throttle up or reduce power needs.
The team is also looking at what type of solution could be used in research buildings, given their additional energy saving requirements or participating utility demand response program during the hot summer season in Texas. Dedicated research buildings consume three times the amount of energy that a regular building does and take up 15% of the campus footprint in general.
Since 2002, when the UT System Energy Utilization Task Force was created, Rodriguez has been tracking energy savings on campus, making it one of the first sustainable tracking measures at UTSA. He is working with the UTSA Office of Sustainability to evaluate technology solutions to meet the institution’s energy conservation goals.
Leaptran was founded in 2017 and is a UTSA startup whose creation was facilitated and managed by the UTSA Office of Commercialization and Innovation.
“It’s great to see the products and services of a UTSA spinout come back to benefit the university in new ways,” said Christine Burke, director of commercialization and technology transfer. “Companies are about more than developing one technology, so the programs and services our office provides are focused on building resilience and adaptability for the startup team, including our I-Corps workshops and entrepreneur and mentoring support.”