Using AI for good: TELUS and Vector Institute partner to reduce climate impacts from data centres with new Energy Optimization System

New algorithm will be open sourced to help organizations reduce electricity consumption by almost 12 per cent annually 

TORONTO, March 31 2022 - TELUS and the Vector Institute, today announced the launch of the Energy Optimization System (EOS), a timely move that will help reduce operational costs and minimize electricity use in commercial buildings, namely data centres, across Canada. This collaborative development uses model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL) to fine tune the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems across network locations, allowing for energy-efficient temperature control.

Annually, an estimated 40 per cent of energy consumed across TELUS network locations is directed towards cooling telecommunications equipment, which is critical to maintaining optimal network performance. TELUS team members collaborated with the Vector Institute to build and test a solution to reduce this number and create a more sustainable use of HVAC equipment in 24/7 data centers. 

By optimizing HVAC systems with this new AI technology, it is possible to achieve significant energy savings in data centres and other network locations, reducing the overall environmental impact. Results from a pilot test showed a decrease of almost 12 per cent in reduced annual electricity consumption in a small data centre.

“We wanted to find the most efficient opportunity for temperature control in data centres, one that considered both the environmental and economic costs, while also providing the best service for our customers,” said Jaime Tatis, Vice-president, Data Strategy and Enablement, TELUS. “Using MBRL to develop an AI agent that chose specific actions based on rewards, we were able to allow for quick learning by machines to create new effective and efficient policies for controlling HVAC systems.”

The algorithm also considers the weather forecast to make a decision when to run cooling (either more expensive compressor cooling or less expensive free cooling) or heating to ensure a consistent temperature and better regulate temperatures during shoulder seasons. 

TELUS and Vector have elected to open source this new algorithm as a contribution to the energy conservation community, furthering commitments by both tech leaders to leverage AI to create better outcomes for Canadians and our environment.

“After three years of working on EOS with a focus on using AI for good, this partnership recognized the value of open sourcing the MBRL algorithm for cost reduction and to create efficiencies for other industries and organizations,” said Deval Pandya, Director of AI Engineering at Vector. “This is a brilliant example of how, together, our expertise in research and engineering can create value and make it easier to deploy leading AI research outcomes. Now we want to amplify the project’s value by open sourcing it for others to adopt.”

As a founding sponsor of the Vector Institute, TELUS has committed to using this partnership to advance the AI ecosystem across Canada, producing an economic boost and creating meaningful impacts with technology. As an example of responsible AI, this program is a demonstration of TELUS’ commitment to fostering innovation, while increasing trust with our customers by addressing privacy, security, and ethical risks.

To learn more visit: https://github.com/VectorInstitute/MBRL-HVAC-Energy-Optimization

About the Vector Institute 

The Vector Institute is an independent, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing artificial intelligence, excelling in machine learning and deep learning. Our vision is to drive excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation, and use of AI to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. The Vector Institute is funded by the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada through CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, and industry sponsors across Canada. 

About TELUS

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is a dynamic, world-leading communications technology company with $17 billion in annual revenue and 17 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security. Our social purpose is to leverage our global-leading technology and compassion to drive social change and enable remarkable human outcomes. Our longstanding commitment to putting our customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty.  The numerous, sustained accolades TELUS has earned over the years from independent, industry-leading network insight firms showcase the strength and speed of TELUS’ global-leading networks, reinforcing our commitment to provide Canadians with access to superior technology that connects us to the people, resources and information that make our lives better. 

TELUS Health is Canada’s leader in digital health technology, improving access to health and wellness services and revolutionizing the flow of health information across the continuum of care. TELUS Agriculture provides innovative digital solutions throughout the agriculture value chain, supporting better food outcomes from improved agri-business data insights and processes. TELUS International (TSX and NYSE: TIXT) is a leading digital customer experience innovator that designs, builds, and delivers next-generation solutions, including AI and content management, for global and disruptive brands across high-growth industry verticals, including tech and games, communications and media, ecommerce and FinTech, healthcare, and travel and hospitality. TELUS and TELUS International operate in 25+ countries around the world.

Driven by our determination and vision to connect all citizens for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired TELUS, our team members and retirees to contribute more than $900 million and 1.8 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world. Together, let’s make the future friendly.

For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com, follow us @TELUSNews on Twitter and @Darren_Entwistle on Instagram. 

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For more information, please contact:

TELUS

Tatianna Goldsney

TELUS Public Relations

Tatianna.goldsney@telus.com

Vector Institute

Orli Namian

media@vectorinstitute.ai