AI-based energy efficiency for buildings
Canadian company BrainBox AI is using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings. To know more about the implementation of AI in smart buildings and how important are these solutions in times of pandemic, In-Building Tech interviewed Frank Sullivan, Chief Business Development Officer at BrainBox AI.
Q: What are the company’s main solutions in the smart buildings field?
A: We are singularly focused on increasing the energy efficiency in buildings. Our solution connects to existing BMS (Building Management System) and external data sources (i.e. weather and utility tariff structure data) and after a short 6-8-week period of mapping and learning, autonomously modulates a building’s HVAC controls to improve occupant comfort by 60% and generates up to 25% cost reductions in total energy spend.
Q: What are the main trends that the firm is seeing in terms of adoption of smart building solutions by commercial buildings?
A: Property owners clearly are inundated with offers and promises of solutions that will make their lives easier, reduce costs and deepen engagement with their tenants. Many of these solutions require significant Capex investments and only provide returns after a long commissioning cycle. They are telling us that they are increasingly looking for Opex heavy offerings, that provide near term returns while aligning to the evolving priorities of their tenant base.
Q: The outbreak of Covid-19 forced building managers to rapidly take actions to guarantee the safety of occupants and workers. How is the company taking advantage of this challenging scenario?
A: The pandemic has impacted us all in so many ways. BrainBox AI quickly pivoted to commercialize an offering that dynamically provided monitoring, improved temperature and humidity control, and increased air changes per hour (ACH), based on the recommendations put forth by ASHRAE and the CDC, to support the objective of reducing the number of airborne particles circulating within the building. Our ability to quickly pivot in light of the Covid-19 pandemic is a testament to the rapid adaptability and flexibility of solutions driven by artificial intelligence. We were able to modify the AI’s priority to focus more on health & safety all the while minimizing as much as possible energy spend.
Q: How is artificial intelligence improving the functionalities of commercial buildings?
A: Artificial intelligence presents a step change in how buildings can optimize their HVAC equipment. The best commissioned buildings start to drift the moment they are handed back to the facilities management teams to operate. Not because the teams lack skill or commitment for their work, but because the insights and instructions provided by deep learning are based on the continuous analysis of large internal and external data sets with the specific aim of maximizing comfort and optimizing energy consumption – something that even a full team of building engineers working around the clock could not achieve.
Q: Do you see a high level of adoption of smart buildings technologies in North America or do you think that a lot of evangelization is still needed?
A: Frankly, we see both. The North American market is now seeing increased focus on legislation and funding to address the efficiency of buildings. That is beginning to accelerate action. With any new technologies and solutions there is always resistance to change and an adoption curve. What’s unique here is that BrainBox AI is using tools and methodologies that have been hardened in adjacent industries and adapting it to the built environment. We are just getting started – and there is a huge potential for impact.