Embedia Technologies

2009 Winner: Outstanding Achievement In Environmental Technology And Innovation

Company Thrives On The Challenge Of Customizing Technology

In an era of rapid technological advancement, even buildings are getting smarter. Calgary-based Embedia Technologies’ shading technology makes smart buildings even smarter. The company was launched to address a specific demand for sophisticated, specialty shading systems.

Succeeding Out of the Gate

Three University of Alberta engineering graduates started Embedia in 2002 at the invitation of world leader in shades, Nysan Shading Systems. The new company’s first assignment was to design the shading system for the landmark Bovis Lend Lease Headquarters in Sydney, Australia. The building was to provide a comfortable working environment without the need of traditional air conditioning. It was the first building in Australia to receive a 5 Star energy rating from the Australian Building Greenhouse Ratings.

“Sydney was a big and challenging project,” says Reid Blumell, president of Embedia. “They had a big investment in the technology and it was gratifying to have a little part of making the building as efficient as possible.”

How it Works

Embedia developed the Dynamic Facade Controller using sensors that consider what’s happening in the outside world, like the temperature, time of day, and time of year. This informs the system where to position the shades to keep the heat in or out, modify light to the interior, or make whatever adjustments are needed. In Sydney the system was specifically designed to eliminate solar heat gain generated by the sun’s rays within the building. At the same time, it maximized the amount of natural light reaching the building’s interior.  The Dynamic Facade Controller gives Embedia control of the shades from its Calgary office.

“That’s a huge advantage,” Mr. Blumell says. “We’re a small company doing work all over the world, so the remote access is reducing our environmental footprint.” Embedia has a prestigious list of buildings with unique shading requirements in its portfolio.

“We don’t offer cookie cutter solutions,” Mr. Blumell explains. “We customize the system because no two projects are the same. We try to integrate well with all other smart systems in the building to be part of an overall smart solution. We want our technology to be able to talk with other systems.”

Unique Challenges

Mr. Blumell says the Chicago Art Institute was particularly challenging. It required a system that allowed precise amounts of light into different parts of the building – less in exhibit spaces and more in the offices.

“It had so many different requirements, from aesthetic to functional,” Mr. Blumell explains. “The shades were coordinated to close when audiovisual systems were operating in meeting rooms and boardrooms, and to open for meetings.”

Closer to home, Embedia designed a shading system that allowed in as much natural light as possible without glare or heat for the new WestJet building at the Calgary Airport. And of course, the project challenged the team. “We love working on challenging projects,” Mr. Blumell says. That’s why Embedia’s plans include making more advances in solar control technology and furthering its position as leaders in the field.