Revolutionizing Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way energy is managed in commercial buildings.

Here’s a shocker:  About 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is simply wasted.  While billions of dollars have been spent by building owners to install energy management systems to cut waste, these systems are not well-utilized because they are not “tuned” to get the best results.  So, commercial buildings represent a huge potential source of carbon emissions reductions and cost savings that is largely untapped.  Recognizing this potential, BrainBoxAI is applying artificial intelligence to existing buildings to improve their energy and emissions performance dramatically.

In our March 7 Perspectives webcastBlake Standen, CEM, CMVP Standen (Global Senior Manager of Sales), and Bob Sobczak (Senior Director of Sales for California, based in Cameron Park) made a great presentation on what BrainBox AI can do.  Here is the bottom line:

  • 40% reduction in carbon footprint
  • 25% reduction in HVAC costs
  • 60% improvement in occupant comfort (no hot and cold spots, adequate air changes, etc.)
  • 50% improvement in equipment life

BrainBox does not need to install new equipment.  It just adds a layer of control to the equipment already there. At least for now.

Only offering a commercial product since 2019, BrainBox has grown to 150 employees and serves a global market with approaching 200 million square feet worldwide.  They are based in Montreal where they found a pool of AI programmer talent but now have targeted California for a serious push after focusing in the US mostly on the East Coast.  BrainBox is getting to market in three ways:  Direct sales to building owners, through system installers and integrators that adopt the BrainBox product, and with large OEMs that provide the building energy systems.

As the product stands, it allows buildings to participate in utility VPP programs adding to grid resources, as well as exploiting rate signals to achieve even more savings for the building owner. A cellular network and a VPN provide the communication architecture.  Future additions could add predictive maintenance, for which some temperature and vibration sensors may need to be added, along with an expansion into other types of buildings.  It wasn’t discussed, but systems like this could be easily adapted to manage EV chargers in building parking lots as part of the overall VPP scheme.

BrainBox has raised $45+ million to date to propel its launch into the commercial market and is now planning to raise more to keep that momentum going. Their largest investor is ABB and they have an impressive slate of other investors and partners.  They haven’t started managing buildings in our region yet, with Sobczak being added to the team only last November.  This is probably pretty fertile territory for them.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart's Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

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