Eco-smart buildings

eSMART specialises in building automation. The company’s solution, aimed at property developers and large-scale property owners, covers all the technical aspects of a property, using energy consumption monitoring to create sustainable smart buildings.

Developed at EPFL, the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, eSMART’s technology was originally designed to meet the needs of property management organisations, enabling them to remotely collect building information such as heating, hot water and cold water data, receive alerts when technical malfunctions occur and even communicate directly with residents. The system also features a user-friendly interface (also available as a smartphone app) that residents can use to control access to their building, operate the blinds and lights in their apartment, adjust the internal temperature and also keep an eye on their energy consumption.

“The building sector is responsible for a third of all CO2 emissions in Switzerland,” says Fabrizio Lo Conte, CEO of eSMART. “This type of system educates residents about energy use, displaying their consumption data in real time and providing energy-saving advice.” And it works. Established in 2011, eSMART has since equipped more than 10,000 dwellings, seeing reductions in energy consumption of up to 20% for heating, 15 to 20% for electricity and 13% for hot water – all without impairing user comfort. “We have also seen that connected buildings can be managed in a very agile way: management companies and caretakers can supervise connected apartments remotely via a secure web-based platform that provides access to the data for each apartment in each individual building,” adds Fabrizio Lo Conte. The compact micro-modules that eSMART manufactures are inserted behind wall switches and communicate via the existing wiring. This system is therefore not just for new builds, it can be installed in older buildings too.

eSMART employs around a hundred people. Its biggest market is Switzerland, where it works with some of the country’s biggest names in real estate including Losinger Marazzi and Cham Group – and several pension funds, too. The company is also present in Benelux, Germany and Romania and is developing a pilot project in Dubai. It’s a highly successful business that claims growth prospects of 20 to 25% a year.