LEWISTON – Imagine you’re in New York City, getting ready for a two-week stay at your vacation home in Vail.

Suitcases are packed. Forecasts for snow vetted. Tickets in hand.

On the way to the airport, you touch your iPhone for Internet access. A couple of taps later, your Vail home is ready for your arrival: lights are on, the hot tub is heated to a balmy 102 degrees, security awaits your arrival, indoor temps register a comfortable 70 degrees and the ice on your driveway has been melted by an imbedded radiant heat system. (The humidity controls that protect your $30 million art collection and wine cellar have been operating all along.)

Sound like something from a Bond movie? Not at all. It’s a pretty typical scenario for some of the high-end customers of an automated building control system made by Innovex Technologies in Lewiston’s Hill Mill.

“We’re creating really cutting-edge technology and employment opportunities,” said Roger Michaud, chief operating officer for Innovex. “Ideally, we’d like to create a technology center in Lewiston, one with the potential of being another IDEXX for the state of Maine.”

Michaud will be heralding Innovex and some of its innovations as the keynote speaker at a New England property managers conference later this month in Foxboro, Mass. The theme is preserving and protecting rental properties through wise energy management, Michaud said.

In the spotlight will be Innovex’s recently developed BTU metering platform that individually measures energy use by multiple tenants in a building. The system allows landlords to charge individual tenants for the actual amount of heat and hot water they use.

“Until people are made responsible for their energy use, they don’t use it wisely,” said Michaud. “If a landlord is paying heat and hot water for his tenants, he’s watching 26 percent (of his operating costs) go down the drain.”

Other Innovex software monitors systems such as HVAC, security, water, sewer and electricity. Data is collected, stored and can be analyzed to gauge efficiencies.

The company has its roots in Pittsburgh, but 15 months ago was purchased by a group of Maine-based investors, including Michaud, who has been involved in local development projects since the ’70s. Other automated building systems exist, he said, but what attracted him to Innovex was its Windows-like operating platform. Rather than being bound to a PC or modem, Innovex developed software that is totally Web-enabled.

“Anyone can simply and easily look at what any system is doing over the Internet and monitor that,” Michaud said. “You can play that out for so many applications.”

One example: Michaud said a heating pump on a large school in Colorado failed on a Friday night last winter. The failure triggered an alarm that went to the property manager of the school. The pump was repaired that night.

“Without it, kids would have come to a freezing school Monday morning, and who knows how much damage would have resulted,” he said.

Although he won’t reveal revenue figures, Michaud said Innovex has tripled its business over the past year. The firm has a staff of 15, with plans to grow. The investor group is looking for capital to finance that expansion, which Michaud expects will happen within the Hill Mill.

“This is flex space,” he said, gesturing to the vacuous space on the mill’s sixth floor. “We can take as much or as little of it as we need. It’s great space for what we’re trying to do.”

Within one small work area, several women were soldering components to computer boards, lining up resistors, capacitors and neuron microprocessors. The hardware works with the integrated Innovex software to make the system Internet-accessible.

A basic package for the monitoring system starts at $3,500 for a single-boiler building, which includes the Web interface, controllers and sensors.

Michaud said he wished it was available when he owned the former Department of Human Services building on Main Street. Back then, if there was a problem with the heating system, finding its cause was a long process of elimination.

“It was a $2,000 service call,” he said.


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