Snowball is a Belgian cleantech hub that connects innovative companies and provides them with opportunities and tools to grow and develop their products. To this end, the site is equipped with a living lab featuring unique energy technologies for heating, cooling, ventilation and energy supply. Snowball went looking for a building management system for non-residential buildings that could optimally coordinate all energy solutions techniques and facilities on the site and thus make Snowball a CO2 neutral office building. It soon became clear to opt for Smappee, that thanks to its flexibility and integrations, could turn Snowball into an example for climate-neutral office buildings worldwide.
State-of-the-art energy technologies.
The Snowball building is powered by a unique blend of renewable and sustainable energy technologies. “We heat and cool the building with brand new technology in the form of an ice buffer,” says Alexandra Vanhuyse, Co-Founder of Snowball. “That means we have a huge underground tank with 350,000 liters of water. In win- ter, we extract the heat from the water until the water freezes. From spring onwards, we extract the cold from the gigantic ice cube to cool, so that the water becomes liquid again. To meet our energy needs, we have 180 kWp solar panels on the roof and a 2.5 MW storage battery that can also exchange energy with the grid. We work with IoT products and services such as Netatmo to control our ventilation, CO2 levels and lighting. And finally, we have 48 charging points and 2 superchargers of 350 kW each for charging electric vehicles in our car park.”
All this serves the growing community of cleantech entrepreneurs, scientists and research institutions who have a place at Snowball. It turns the building itself into a Living Lab to test the latest clean energy solutions in a real environment. But in addition, Snowball also aimed to be climate neutral. “We started looking for a energy management technology or tool that could help us with that,” says Alexandra. “First of all, we wanted to limit our energy consumption (demand side management). In addition, we wanted to optimally manage our energy techniques and the consumption of the building and its facilities (dynamic load balancing). Finally, since we want to set an example for others, the setup also had to be reproducible in other office buildings.”
Smappee as beating heart for energy management.
Snowball opted for the Smappee Infinity energy management system for the control of all energy flows within the building. “Smappee Infinity really is the beating heart of energy efficiency in our building,” said Snowball’s Alexandra Vanhuyse. “On the one hand we use the technology for energy monitoring and on the other hand to control all energy optimally. We have a perfect overview of the total consumption, but also of the electric power consumption per floor, for various offices, the fitness room, the restaurant, the charging plaza, etc. We can monitor this daily, per week, month and year in a user-friendly Dashboard and even real-time on the go in the Smappee App. In addition, we also see the yield of our solar panels. In this way we immediately see what our auto-consumption and level of self-sufficiency is.”
Balance supply and demand.
Energy efficiency is crucial to be energy neutral. That is no different with Snowball. “Smappee ensures that our energy flows are optimally matched to each other (dynamic load balancing) so that peaks and overloads of the system are avoided. For example, if a lot of cars are charging at the same time and the restaurant also needs a lot of energy for the lunch shift, Smappee will automatically adjust the energy demand by temporarily giving certain cars less charging current. In this way, peaks are absorbed, and we are sure that the circuit breakers do not blow. In addition, Smappee will first use our solar energy to the maximum to meet the needs of the building and all facilities. Only afterwards is the surplus solar energy stored in our battery. Another aspect of Snowball’s energy efficiency is that all facilities on the site are IoT-controlled. Thus, the numerous integrations of the Smappee ecosystem with other third party IoT products and services such as Netatmo and Home Assistant and the compatibility with various communication protocols are a real plus. For example, we can record the data from the Hue motion sensors in Home Assistant to control the lighting in the elevator room, toilets and kitchen from there by means of Smappee Switches. The lighting in certain rooms can also be switched on and off via the Smappee App and the time schedules for the lighting also run via Smappee. The possibilities are numerous.”
Smappee EV Line for the link to electrified mobility.
Snowball is 100% committed to electric mobility with 48 charging points and 2 fast chargers in their company car park that is open to the general public. “We want to build the gas station of the future here,” says Alexandra. “While people power up their cars, they can get a cup of coffee or a snack in our restaurant. We have also stayed within the Smappee ecosystem as much as possible for the charging square, which certainly benefits compatibility and ease of use. The Smappee EV Base not only looks great, it is also smart thanks to the integrated Smappee technology that offers smart charging functionalities. We also get detailed insight into all data via the Smappee Dashboard. This way, we know exactly when which charging point was used, for how long and even by whom, what the revenues are per charging point and which charging points are in service / out of service. In addition, we can assign priorities and different rates to specific users through the Smappee Dashboard. For example, Snowball residents can charge cheaper than visitors. Because we can apply these tariffs and we mainly use our solar energy for charging, the investment becomes financially interesting.”
Future-proof and modular.
In addition to all the benefits of energy efficiency and cost savings, the future-proof aspect of the Smappee ecosystem was also a decisive factor in Snowball’s decision. “Thanks to the modularity of Smappee Infinity, our site and our living lab will always be up to date,” says Alexandra. “We can easily incorporate new technologies into the Smappee Infinity set-up, without the need for major changes. Add some CT’s in the fuse box and all data and control will be included in the whole and will be visible in the Smappee Dashboard and the user-friendly Smappee App. The energy management system will also be perfectly usable for future projects that we aspire. The automated demand response should allow us to also trade energy with the grid and other players via the battery in the future. The forecasts of solar energy that Smappee offers are also very interesting in this context. This way we will know perfectly when we will have surplus energy that we can sell or when we best store it for our own use in our battery. This way, we can be sure that we have acquired a technology with growth potential that will serve us well for years to come.”
Industry. Office buildings
Snowball is a brand new Cleantech hub in Belgium and has the mission to facilitate & promote sustainable entrepreneurship. As a recognised accelerator for Cleantech companies, Snowball helps young and ambitious companies through personal coaching and making state- of-the-art facilities available at Snowball.
Snowball had to look for a technology for non-residential buildings that could optimally coordinate all the unique energy technologies for heating, cooling, ventilation and energy supply within the site in order to make Snowball a CO2 neutral office building.
Smappee’s smart energy management technology ensures that the energy flows are optimally coordinated (dynamic load balancing) so that peaks and overloading of the system are avoided. Thanks to the modularity of the system, new technologies can be incorporated into the set-up without any problems, without the need for major changes. In this way, the Living Lab is always up to date.
– Complete site measured by Smappee.
– Fully CO2 neutral building.
– Charging square fully integrated with rest of the site.
– Dynamic load balancing and overload protection for the complete Snowball site.
– System that allows to integrate new technologies in the future.
– Quick & easy installation, low maintenance.
– Monitoring and control over all energy flows: electricity, solar, gas, water.
– Large amounts of data via App and Dashboard.
– Flexible system: submeter desired loads, expandable in the future.
– Dynamic load balancing with overload protection.
– Compatibility with third party IoT platforms and technologies.
– Everything withing one single system.
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