Industry Partners Innovation: Cortland Research

Automating for Efficiency

More than 76 percent of electricity used in the United States is consumed in residential and commercial buildings. Central New York-based Cortland Research has developed a novel energy conservation solution for buildings with POUNCE, an inexpensive system of electrical sensors and controls that reduces energy consumption while maintaining comfort based on occupancy of a space.

“Temperature and occupancy are big factors in trying to improve building efficiency based on use,” says Steve McMahon, who founded the company along with his son, John. “Our system allows providers of environmental systems to make them more dynamic and realize savings based on the information POUNCE can provide to them.”

POUNCE is an affordable energy monitoring system that easily integrates into existing wiring via electrical outlets and switches. The web-based system allows users to view and control their system remotely, adjusting thermostats, turning lighting and appliances on or off, and
managing power flow to outlets.

McMahon started Cortland Research in 2010. “We had a vision that building automation systems would become commonplace and our idea could provide building owners in underserved markets better options for sensing and control, leading to energy efficiency,” he says.

Today, POUNCE systems are used by the New York City Department of Education in city schools, Corning, Onondaga Community College, and SUNY Cortland. McMahon attributes much of the company’s growth to assistance received through partnering with SyracuseCoE.

“SyracuseCoE understands the benefit of POUNCE Systems as a complementary component of air quality and energy conservation, and their endorsement of our products gave us credibility,” says McMahon. SyracuseCoE contacts led to important sales, including a new contact that is helping the firm extend its sales reach nationwide.

Cortland Research has received three competitive awards to date from SyracuseCoE, including two from its Innovation Fund and one associated with a regional initiative to grow Central New York’s industry cluster in Advanced Manufacturing of Thermal and Environmental Controls (AM-TEC). The latest award from the SyracuseCoE Innovation Fund enabled Cortland Research to complete engineering design of a CO2 sensor for the system. Via funding awarded to SyracuseCoE by the U.S. Department of Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to support the AM-TEC initiative, Cortland Research is implementing and studying point-of-use CO2/occupancy/temperature sensing.

Cortland Research installed prototype CO2 sensors into POUNCE switches installed in the Willis H. Carrier TIEQ Laboratory at SyracuseCoE, creating an interface between the POUNCE system and Carrier HVAC systems. The study demonstrated a potential energy reduction of up to 34 percent in office environments. McMahon says the POUNCE platform allows for many additional features.

“SyracuseCoE has been an incredible resource and we would not have come this far without them,” he says.