Based on research by a Ph.D candidate right here at UBC, Energy and Water Services is using the campus wireless system to find energy savings in buildings. The research found that the anonymized location data provided by the wifi system can be used to approximate the number of people in campus spaces. This can then be used to vary airflow to the room, increasing it for busy classes, decreasing it in the times in between. This saves not just electrical energy used to drive the fans moving the air around, but moving less air simply means that there is less of it to heat or cool.
The method was piloted at the I.K. Barber library starting late in 2015, with results showing roughly 5% overall annual energy savings at the building. The case study can be found here. Based on these promising results, EWS has decided to roll the energy savings method out to other buildings on campus. This first-of-its-kind energy savings method is estimated to have the potential to save UBC up to $100,000 in energy costs annually.
The project has been such a success that the researcher has started up a company based on the method, and is garnering interest from a variety of schools in Canada and internationally.