June 2010 Archives


A colleague of mine attended the European Solar Decathlon in Madrid. The objective was to build a 43 sqm solar powered home. These homes relied on a mix of clever building design, renewable and sustainable energy systems and the integration of smart technology to manage the home and its energy usage. The team members from various institutions contained a mix of builders, designers, renewable energy engineers and software developers. Several of the teams had a least 3 software developers on their team. The language of choice being C++. The technology platform of choice for building automation was Siemens Apogee


The students who will commence our new Computing Degree in Smart Sustainable Energy (CAO Code TI020) will be studying both C++ and Building Automation systems and hopefully in the future will play a part in these Solar Decathlons. 

The closing date for change of mind in 17.15 on July 1st  For students who wish to apply for our new 4 year level 8 in Computing in Smart Sustainable energy the CAO code is TI020. The 3 year level 7 programme in Computing in Smart Sustainable Energy is TI004 on the CAO

The  new B.Sc (Honours) in Computing (Smart Sustainable Energy) degree focuses on developing and designing innovative sustainable energy technology that solves energy problems. This innovative programme is essential in supporting the development of Ireland's smart green economy. This programme addresses the requirement for a low carbon high-tech economy with the potential to create 80,000 jobs over the next decade as identified by the Green Enterprise Group in Dec 2009. The course is unique in Ireland and is built upon Tipperary Institute's expertise in the sustainable energy sector. The course will commence in September 2010 and students can apply through the CAO.

These graduates will focus on the design and implementation of new innovative systems which integrate technology with sustainable energy sources. Careers in this area include the following sectors:

  • Energy Management Systems
  • Electric car charging systems
  • Building Management Systems
  •  Automated energy controls for Industrial buildings
  •  Mobile communication solutions for energy systems


At a recent visit to the Cloughjordan Eco village we saw how a sustainable community requries a new generation of water cylinders which connect to a district heating system. These 800 litre tanks contain a smaller 250 litre tank for domestic hot water and the outer tank is used for underfloor heating or radiators.

The image above only shows 30% of the connections to the tank. This evolution in heating design is matched by the evolution in heating controls which students of the Smart Sustainable Energy degree will study.

I am experimenting with a Maxim iButton with a view to incorporating the device into our new computing degree in Smart Sustainable Energy Curriculum in Tipperary Institute.

"The iButton is a computer chip enclosed in a 16mm thick stainless steel can. Because of this unique and durable container, up-to-date information can travel with a person or object anywhere they go. The steel iButton can be mounted virtually anywhere because it is rugged enough to withstand harsh environments, indoors or outdoors. It is small and portable enough to attach to a key fob, ring, watch, or other personal items, and be used daily for applications such as access control to buildings and computers, asset management, and various data logging tasks."

The unit is the size of a watch battery and slightly bigger as you can see above it is smaller than a 20 cent coin.

Application development is supported through Java APIs and a number of other options.

There are four components fundamental to any iButton application:
  • iButtons
  • A host system: this can be a PC, a laptop, a handheld computer, or an embedded system.
  • A reader/writer device to get information into and out of the button. This can be the Blue Dot, a pen-style probe, or a handheld device.
  • A layer of software to interface iButtons to computers and produce the desired information in the desired format. Several software development kits (SDKs) are downloadable from this site at no charge. For a list of SDKs and links to download, see this page. We also offer 1-Wire Drivers for Microsoft platforms, along with the OneWireViewer, a demo application that can read/write/exercise any iButton.

Houston Neal at electrical estimating software advice has a great article about the potential work out there in America for electricians who can provide technology to assist in the reduction of energy for homes and businesses.

The article cites several sources which highlight the growing demand for green retrofit. This is evidenced in Ireland through the SEAI Home Energy Saving Scheme

Houston identifies 5 key areas which are:
  • Relamping - replacing standard lighting with energy efficient lighting
  • Daylight harvesting - using technology to reduce the use of electrical lights
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Retrofits
  • Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems and Wind Turbines - Grid ties etc
  • Energy Management Systems and Monitoring Devices - Which is of particular interest to us in Tipperary Institute as it focused on the convergence of technology and sustainable energy management
Full article can be found here

Constructech.com reports that a smart home is more attractive to buyers, who are looking for value add services being integrated into their prospective purchase.

"Industry data suggests three areas of connected home technology will fuel consumer demand moving forward, including home theater, MRAV (multiroom audio/video), and energy management. These technology systems not only add attractive options for buyers, but can set a builder apart as cutting-edge."

In this tight economy builders of new homes will need their properties to stand out, this akin to buying the car and getting air con, sat nav and cruise control thrown in for the same price.

Students in Tipperary Institutes new Computing degree in Smart Sustainable Energy will study this convergence, the associated technologies and develop their own unique solutions

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