Architects, engineers, and designers worldwide strive to build and retrofit as many of their buildings to meet the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards as much as possible, often with the help of supporting organizations like Aetos Imaging. Aetos was founded in early 2021 as the sibling of a larger company called Sustainable Investment Group, which since 2008 has focused on making buildings as green as possible, achieving LEED certification, performing energy audits, retro-commissioning, and more.
“We started by using Matterport Pro2 cameras to capture mechanical rooms, engine rooms, and fire pump rooms, and creating navigable digital twins that can be viewed remotely in 3D,” says Connor Offut, Cofounder and President, Aetos Imaging. “We asked chief engineers and facilities managers what we could add to these digital twins to make their jobs easier, and they told us they needed ways to organize their equipment database, see and filter equipment inspection histories, integrate their computerized maintenance management system, and provide direct training.”
They built all that and more in a 3D platform called Aetos Operate using the Matterport SDK and API.
All Facilities Management Information in One Place
Aetos built its facilities management software stack on three fundamental pillars, with a visual equipment database as the first. From inside a digital twin, engineers can pull up things like inspection histories, nameplate data, training videos, and user manuals. Everything is in one place, and they can plug it all into their maintenance management systems.
“All that information is aggregated and displayed in a way that’s tailor-made for building operations and maintenance,” Offut says. “Engineers can filter and sort it from inside the platform, and they can run comparisons between fifteen or more buildings without having to look at each individual digital twin.”
Remote Collaboration in 3D
The second pillar is the ability to collaborate remotely in the same virtual 3D space. Video conferencing and document sharing platforms are 2D by design, but since Aetos Operate is a 3D platform, the company built its own custom system that can handle Matterport digital twins without sacrificing the 4k resolution quality.
“Unlike with standard video conferencing software, whoever starts a remote meeting using our platform can immediately take control of the digital twin, which will be rendered in high resolution rather than in lower resolution as it would be with standard videoconferencing technology,” Offut says. “The meeting host navigates through the virtual space, which every participant can see clearly and feel fully immersed in.” Both the meeting host and participants can add notes to the meeting that can be reviewed at any time in the future.
Better Training, Lower Energy Costs
The final pillar, the one Offut finds particularly exciting, is a sophisticated training system built on top of digital twins. Building managers can create customized training simulations and modules that take engineers step-by-step through critical operations with specific equipment in 3D. They’re often as engaging as a video game, and they show engineers how to get the best performance out of the particular building they work in.
“Engineers tell us all the time, ‘Where has this been for the last 30 years?’” Offut says. “It’s a game-changer. Now a new engineer, no matter what their job title is, has access to all the information to optimize how these buildings operate from day one. And where it used to take two years for a new engineer to fully master managing a building, now they can do it in a single day.”
The New York State Research and Energy Development Authority (NYSREDA) and SL Green Realty Corp., the largest commercial landlord in Manhattan, used Aetos Operate to onboard and upskill engineers in eleven of their most prestigious buildings, including One Vanderbilt Avenue, that totaled more than 14 million square feet. They captured the mechanical spaces in each building and tagged critical information such as evacuation valves, isolation valves, chillers, and variable frequency drives.
More than 140 engineers used the training system based on the digital twin, and as a result they reduced energy costs by 4 percent annually. They also trimmed travel costs with remote walkthroughs and inspections, and they expect to benefit even more in the future if insurance claims ever need to be filed.
“Digital twins are like time machines that record exactly what was in a space and how it was maintained,” Offut says. “They can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to insurance companies that a building is in compliance and that systems are maintained properly.”
The Future of the Built Environment is Bright
Aetos partners with its sister company, Sustainable Investment Group, on virtual energy audits, local compliance, LEED innovation credits enabled by virtual tours, and education and training around sustainability. And Offut is confident that the future of the built environment is bright, partly because of the new technologies it’s adopting and building on.
“The divide between the real world and the digital world will get smaller as what’s known about buildings in virtual space approaches parity with what’s known about them in physical space,” he says. “It will open up so many opportunities for better city designs, better infrastructure planning, better training, and better thought processes about the built environment as a whole.”
Aetos Imaging is a Matterport Platform Partner that leverages Matterport APIs and SDKs to build and commercialize apps and integrations with Matterport’s market-leading spatial data platform. As a Platform Partner, the company gains access to a range of commercial benefits, such as Matterport’s distribution network and enhanced support as well as co-marketing and co-selling programs to help successfully monetize its applications. To learn more about the Platform Partner Program and apply to join, visit https://matterport.com/platform-partner-program.
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