A Futuristic Solution for the Tallest Building in the World
In 2007, Jerry Drew, founder of Network Thermostat (NetX), suddenly began getting phone calls from people saying they were from Honeywell Middle East. Mystery surrounded the calls: Honeywell wouldn’t tell them what the project was that they wanted to talk with him about but they needed more information on his line of networked thermostats. The calls persisted for six months, but no information was revealed. Thinking it was a scam or someone trying to steal his technology, he told them he wasn’t interested. The calls stopped. Six months later, the phone rang again. Honeywell still was not able to reveal the customer's name but informed him that their customer had selected NetX’s product for a major project and refused to take "no" for an answer. The project manager insisted that it was a very large – and in fact, real – project and it was his job to get Jerry and the NetX team onboard.
NDAs were signed between NetX and Honeywell, the largest manufacturer of thermostats in the world, and calls were scheduled. It was quickly revealed that this wasn’t just any project: it was part of the construction requirements for the largest building in the world! The 161-story Burj Dubai (now called the Burj Khalifa) wanted NetX thermostats as they were the only thermostats on the entire planet that had the features and capabilities needed for this unique environment. The building was to be a high-end futuristic combination of residential condos and hotel rooms. They needed the solution to interface with each condo’s automation system plus multiple Honeywell and Johnson Control systems simultaneously. The property posed some unique challenges; NetX was tasked with developing and programming special algorithms to keep the building at optimum levels, including heat guards to prevent valuable tenant possessions from being damaged by the high heat in the desert if the HVAC was accidentally turned off.
Jerry and the NetX team accepted the challenge. They designed a 3-speed fan control unit and created prototypes. The project manager was skeptical but trusted the NetX team in a trial: it was a huge success and worked exactly as they had expected. In fact, because of the power and simplicity of the NetX thermostat design, the project was actually easier from the beginning than anyone could possibly have expected.
Ultimately, it was the largest purchase of thermostats for a single building in history: 3,660 thermostats, with approximately 3,000 installed in the 900 residential condos and the rest in 160 guest rooms in the Armani hotel co-located in the same building.