Glasgow-based proptech company arbnco has secured its first international contract after signing a partnership agreement with the University of California, Davis.

UC Davis will trial arbnco technology to identify energy saving opportunities and improve air quality in indoor working environments for staff and students.

It comes as the company also announces the opening of its first US office, in Detroit, with a second office set to open in California early this year, as it targets the States as its first major export country.

UC Davis will deploy two of arbnco’s proprietary software solutions to enable it to identify energy and cost savings in buildings, and understand indoor air quality conditions in offices and classrooms. The adoption of its technologies will be the first US market test for arbnco, and will help the company develop its software for further deployment across America. 

Founded in 2012, arbnco develops technology solutions to transform the built environment, helping to enhance energy performance, improve sustainability and reduce carbon outputs in commercial and public sector real estate.

Its UK industry partners include Nuveen Real Estate and Mitsubishi Electric R&D Centre Europe BV (MERCE-UK). The partnership with UC Davis will build on arbnco’s research capabilities and expand its existing academic network, having conducted numerous research projects in partnership with the University of Strathclyde. 

A world leading research and teaching institution, UC Davis is one of ten University of California campuses. Established in 1905, it now has over 36,000 students across its 7,309 acre campus. Through its Energy and Efficiency Institute (EEI) which is committed to developing sustainable energy solutions, UC Davis has established itself as a leader in the field of energy research, education and engagement.

arbnco set its sights on the US market after participating in an energy trade mission to New York in 2018, led by Scottish Development International.

Maureen Eisbrenner, Co-founder CEO & Chairman of arbnco, said: “This is a really exciting time for arbnco, and for Scottish innovation more generally, as we begin to translate our UK success into the US market. Globally, 236 billion USD was spent on improving energy efficiency in 2017, and 59% of that was in the buildings sector, so the opportunity for arbnco is huge both in the US and the rest of the world.

“UC Davis is renowned for being a leader in energy research, and is forging the way amongst US academic institutions when it comes to developing and implementing efficient, sustainable energy solutions. Alongside our research partnership with the University of Strathclyde, we are bringing together some of the finest minds in the field to overcome some major global challenges regarding energy efficiency.”

In the first of several projects involving arbnco, the company’s software will be utilised by UC Davis as part of a pilot programme funded by the US Office of Naval Research. The software will first analyse the data gathered from energy audits of the University’s buildings, and generate automatic reports that identify opportunities for energy and cost savings, as well as recommend retrofit solutions.

If successful, the programme will then lead to a demonstration on a local navy installation, with the eventual aim of reducing the US Navy’s energy use across its facilities. Ultimately, there is significant potential for arbnco’s software to be utilised more widely by other branches of the US military and the US Department of Defence.

A second project will focus on the impact the air quality within the University’s indoor learning environments has on the health and wellbeing of students, following research which associates inadequate ventilation rates in classrooms with increased illness absence and reduced student performance. 

UC Davis will adopt arbnco’s sensor technology which links indoor environmental data to human feedback, to determine the optimum levels of comfort for students and staff. The development of this technology was the result of a research project conducted with the University of Strathclyde and funded by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. 

Mark Modera, director of the Energy and Efficiency Institute at UC Davis, said: “We are excited to partner with arbnco. Together we will reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in critical sectors, and improve the health and wellbeing of students, staff, and faculty.”