Harry Sim

Harry SimHarry Sim

Cypress Envirosystems

Cypress Envirosystems specializes in non-invasive retrofit solutions for existing buildings. By developing solutions that eliminate the need to open walls, cut pipe or run wire, our innovations generally reduce installed costs by 70-80%….

What is the role of your materials and products in the development of today’s leading architectural ideas?

Cypress Envirosystems specializes in non-invasive retrofit solutions for existing buildings. By developing solutions that eliminate the need to open walls, cut pipe or run wire, our innovations generally reduce installed costs by 70-80% compared to existing solutions on the market. Due to the significant reduction in cost and the fact that retrofits can be done without disturbing tenants, our approach makes it possible for the mass market to adopt advanced energy saving technologies.

For example, our Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat (WPT) provides the same benefits as Direct Digital Control (DDC) thermostats—it saves 10-25% of HVAC energy, provides diagnostic data for ongoing commissioning, and saves over 50% of maintenance costs. DDC retrofits cost between $2,000 and $3,000 per thermostat and require projects that last months. In contrast, the WPT retrofits cost between $550 and $600 per installed thermostat and project times are reduced to days.

What are the latest innovative developments that you are working on?

With the advent of continuous or ongoing commissioning–a very data-hungry activity–we have found that most buildings do not provide adequate data to participate in these programs. In fact, around 70% of existing buildings have no zone-level data available. Accessing this data can be difficult and expensive. As a result, many buildings are under performing and their managers do not have the information to know where to begin to make improvements.

Several ongoing commissioning companies have already used the WPT as a cost-effective way to get data from the zones. However, more data is required to get a full picture of building performance. Our next innovations will be focused on solutions to further enable the ongoing commissioning industry. As with all of our technologies, we are developing solutions that are radically less expensive, do not disrupt tenants and achieve a payback in 18 months or less.


How can vendors and material developers push the boundaries of what is possible in advancing innovative design and architecture?

When it comes to existing buildings, ‘pushing the boundaries’ really means getting beyond the top 10-20% of the market that can always afford to adopt the latest technologies. Since every building is unique, it is very challenging to develop a solution that can be adopted by the mass market. Building a new building that is energy efficient is straight forward—with existing buildings it is anything but. To have a real impact on the energy use of the existing building stock, vendors must develop technologies that can be readily adopted. To be adopted by the mass market, these solutions must minimize payback period and disruption to existing building tenants.

Explain how your product or material was used in and contributed to the success of a particular project?

The WPT has been deployed at several universities, government agencies, hospitals and commercial buildings throughout the country. Each segment has different primary drivers for adopting the WPT. For example, universities can employ deadband capabilities to achieve their aggressive energy saving goals and hospitals can improve patient comfort without closing patient rooms to do the retrofit. The one thing they all have in common is they need higher performance and require a fast payback. Our project at the County of Santa Clara draws a stark comparison on why our clients choose us.

The County wanted to participate in the local utility’s auto-demand response program to earn incentive payments and avoid very high peak rate charges. However, since they had pneumatic thermostats, they were unable to sign up for the program. In order to do so, programmable, communicating digital thermostats were required.

The County went to bid for a DDC retrofit for their 350 thermostats. The best bid they got back was for $875,000 and required a six month project. During these six months, floors would have been shut down and tenants would have been moved to temporary locations. Since the affected buildings housed social services that were vital to the community, this disruption was unacceptable. The County was stuck until they found the Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat.

Cypress Envirosystems retrofitted all 350 thermostats for $175,000 in eight days. With the WPT, the County reduced their energy use by over 2,200 kWh per day (around 12%) and reduced their maintenance cost by $156,000 per year (over 50%). Furthermore, with the WPT they were able to participate in the utility’s auto-demand response program. As a result, the utility paid for 100% of the project. Even without the incentive payment from the utility, the County calculated that the savings from the project would have resulted in a 16-month payback.

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