With a mission to foster innovative new products and solutions in urban environments, the IBI Group-led Smart City Sandbox has launched a first-of-its-kind in Canada pilot with partners IBI Group, SWTCH Energy Inc. (SWTCH), and Slate Asset Management (Slate).

The clean energy pilot aims to improve the electric vehicle (EV) charging landscape in North America by addressing the barriers to EV adoption and creating an energy distribution model that benefits both building and EV owners.

The three-year pilot, located at Slate-owned 55 St. Clair West in Toronto (headquarters to IBI Group and the Smart City Sandbox) demonstrates how commercial building owners can accommodate the growing demand for EV charging stations while simultaneously improving the building’s energy efficiency and reducing operational costs. Leveraging SWTCH’s bidirectional, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging technology, SWTCH operators will study the V2G charger’s ability to store energy through a parked Nissan Leaf during off-peak hours, and redistribute that energy to the building and the Level 2 EV chargers during on-peak hours.

“The mission of the Smart City Sandbox has always been to cultivate the next generation of smart buildings and infrastructure by bringing together established market leaders with early-stage companies to develop technologies that improve efficiency, the environment, and citizen engagement. As an early-stage investor in SWTCH, we believe the pilot embodies all tenets of this mission by allowing EV owners to participate in an innovative solution that supports decarbonisation and benefits all stakeholders,” said Scott Stewart, CEO of IBI Group.

As electric vehicles gain popularity and adoption, the question of how to accommodate a rise in EV charging infrastructure without additional strain on the electrical grid becomes increasingly relevant. Vehicle-to-grid technology allows buildings to draw energy from parked EVs during on-peak hours rather than the grid.

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During the pilot, the parked Nissan Leaf will store energy during off-peak hours and redistribute that energy to the building and the EV chargers in use, creating an energy flow that is cost-effective and environmentally sustainable.

“Environmental sustainability is central to how we think about acquiring, enhancing and managing real estate at Slate Asset Management,” said Katie Fong, vice president of asset management at Slate. “Our goal is to create places where our people and tenants thrive, and to contribute to our communities and the environment. Driving innovation in clean technology and finding ways to make our properties more resource-efficient is key to that objective and benefits all of our stakeholders. We’re pleased to be making our property at 55 St. Clair West available for this groundbreaking pilot program, which can help make clean energy solutions more accessible and widespread in urban settings across Canada and beyond.”

The technology and model developed by SWTCH is unique as it includes a financial incentive for EV owners to participate in the program which leverages the blockchain. The SWTCH app tracks when energy is being drawn from a car’s battery and when it’s being charged, creating a history of credits and debits securely managed through blockchain technology that participants can monitor on their phones.

“We are thrilled to partner with IBI Group and Slate, through the Smart City Sandbox, to address the barriers to widespread EV adoption. By proving our innovative charging and energy management solution, we hope to significantly reduce the cost of EV charging infrastructure and materially enhance grid efficiency,” said SWTCH CEO, Carter Li.

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The Smart City Sandbox unites like-minded public- and private-sector partners to foster innovative new products and solutions focused on improving the quality of life in urban environments.

Featured images courtesy of IBI Group.


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