One of New York City's oldest real estate companies is implementing a program that allows buildings to learn how to cut their energy use, and emissions.

Rudin Management Company, in collaboration with Columbia University and Italian defense contractor Finmeccanica, began a project in 2009 to develop software that allows building systems managers to not only obtain real time data on energy consumption but also adjust building behavior based on that data. It's a building management system that effectively learns as it goes along.

"We think we've got smart buildings, but they really don't remember anything," said John Gilbert III, Rudin's chief operating officer, who helped lead the project. "Shouldn't memory be a part of smart buildings?"

The system is called Di-BOSS (it stands for Digital Building Operating System) and is derived from technology often used in medicine, aviation and oil exploration, said Roger Anderson, one of the system's developers.

"It forecasts into the future, from the past," said Anderson, a research professor at Columbia. "The coming weather, holidays. It knows what's coming and uses what it has learned from the past, from many pasts. It takes in hundreds of variables and matches them up in a multidimensional space."