Meet Sustainable Buildings - winner of Startup in Residence The Hague 2018

The Hague has the ambition to become a zero carbon-city without natural gas by 2040. One of the most important ways to heat buildings is by using a heat pump, which collects heat from its surrounding environment. Sustainable Buildings won the Startup in Residence challenge “Smarter on the Grid” with their solution to make heat pumps more attractive by optimizing the operation of heat pumps with their digital energy monitor. By reducing energy usage they contribute to the energy transition. An interview with co-founders: Faris Nizamic and Tuan Nguyen.

To achieve the goal of being a zero carbon-city, The Hague developed a strategy that describes numerous measures. Reducing the dependency on natural gas means that half of the existing houses would need to be heated with electric systems.

The heat pump may be a better idea. By collecting heat from the surrounding environment such as air, sewage or surface water, heat pumps can raise temperatures to about 30 or 40 degrees Celsius. But optimizing the operation of heat pumps is necessary to prevent unnecessary energy loss and to make the system more attractive. The challenge: Develop a smart system that monitors and manages heat pump installation. Startup company Sustainable Buildings developed the winning solution.

How it works

Faris Nizamic: “We developed an innovative and user-friendly software application that gives additional insight and control into heat pumps. This provides real-time data about energy usage, making heat pumps more efficient and attractive for homeowners and office building managers.”

The beginning of Sustainable Buildings

Faris Nizamic from Bosnia and Tuan Nguyen from Vietnam have been entrepreneurs from the very beginning. Both studied at the University of Groningen. Together they did a Ph.D. in computer science and during their studies, they worked on energy solutions for a building at the university. Tuan: “Our research was applied in the field and this sparked our interest in the monitoring and control of the energy usage in buildings. To continue working on this topic and develop actual software, we launched Sustainable Buildings.” Their startup company already has a complete portfolio of services aimed at energy reduction for buildings for both consumers and business customers. Now, they have adapted their solution for the Startup in Residence Challenge.

Making impact in The Hague

We asked Faris and Tuan what their experience was working with The Hague: “The municipality of the Hague sees the urgency to become more sustainable and has a target to become energy neutral by 2040. Our software application can contribute to this reduction of energy usage. If we really want to make a change, we have to attack this challenge from multiple angles. We need to make people aware of what is going on by presenting them the right data. The municipality has access to more than 200 buildings and is a role model for its citizens so if we have the municipality supporting us, this solution can really make an impact.” – and making impact is the core focus of City of The Hague’s startup program Impact City!

The Startup in Residence experience

During Startup in Residence The Hague, the solution of Sustainable Buildings was projected on the real situation in The Hague. Tuan: “The validation program at the start was quite valuable because it did not only focus on this challenge but also on us as entrepreneurs – so that we can also continue after the program. We have gotten to learn a lot more about heat pumps and it has given us new ideas.”

In a few weeks, it is Demo Day! We very much look forward to seeing Sustainable Buildings’ solution. And we hope that in the near future, all buildings in The Hague will be zero-carbon but also and comfortably warm.