For three years, BrainBox AI, a startup that uses AI (artificial intelligence) technology to optimize building’s HVAC systems, has put its autonomous solution to work to help CRE owners in Canada save time, energy and money.
Now, BrainBox is doing the same for CRE owners in the U.S. The company completed its first U.S. installation in the last two weeks at a research and development center for a major HVAC-related company. BrainBox has two more stateside installations planned for the coming weeks.
“We’ll be making a significant investment in our salesforce in the U.S. in the very short term,” BrainBox AI Chief Business Development Officer Sam Ramadori told Connected Real Estate Magazine. “We’ve seen a lot of success in Canada—our square footage went from almost zero to 10 million square feet in a very short time frame. Canada is a 10th of the size of the U.S. population-wise and it’s a big step for Canadian company to penetrate the U.S. market, but we’ll be doing so in a meaningful way with our people in the ground.”
How BrainBox AI works
BrainBox AI co-founders, CEO Sean Neely and chief technology officer and inventor Jean-Simon Venne wanted to find a cost-effective way to optimize HVAC solutions. One that was not dependent on major equipment investments, installing hundreds of sensors throughout a building. Or even human involvement in data analysis which are costly and reduce the ability to scale quickly..
Their solution was BrainBox AI—one edge device that’s a foot wide by a foot tall and takes two to three hours to install. That’s the extent of the company’s presence in a CRE owner’s building. Once installed, BrainBox AI is a six to eight week autonomous learning period begins. The AI is learning how the building works during that period, customizing itself to how that specific building behaves.
Once the learning period is complete, BrainBox AI’s autonomous instruction mode starts. This is where the AI is managing, every five minutes in real time, all of the components of a building’s HVAC system.
“(BrainBox AI operates) just like a self-driving car or any other AI technology that needs to make a large number of decisions autonomously and in real time,” Ramadori said. “Like in a self-driving car, no human is telling it what to do. We are bringing that same capability to the HVAC system of a building.”
What makes BrainBox AI different from its competitors
There are other companies that can manage a building’s HVAC system, but BrainBox’s artificial intelligence capabilities help it stand out from the rest. According to Ramadori, BrainBox AI is the world’s first truly autonomous AI for commercial HVAC systems. Other companies generate analysis of HVAC data as well , but the output is a dashboard or a report with optimization insights.
“Then the next step always requires human intervention,” Ramadori said. “Someone has to look at those insights and start to reprogram or change the settings of the HVAC system. Then that change is just a static one when the operator makes it—until the next time he may be looking at the dashboard and decide to make another change. That whole human element—we have surpassed it.”
How BrainBox AI saves CRE owners money, energy and time
BrainBox AI is constantly learning and improving its knowledge of how the building operates. It makes hundreds of adjustments to an HVAC system every few minutes. To achieve the same thing using human intervention, a CRE owner or building operator would have to hire dozens of engineers to constantly be looking at the HVAC system and decide every five minutes if they should make an adjustment like increase the fan speed or air temperatures in each zone, for instance.
“That’s the level of detailed operation we’re performing with the autonomous AI,” Ramadori said. “Clearly no one can afford dozens of engineers for single building, 24 hours a day. That’s the difference.”
The solution has also helped CRE owners reduce energy bills by 25 to 30 percent and decrease their carbon footprint by 20 to 40 percent.
“The savings we’re generating are large,” Ramadori. “The investment required to get there is very minimal, as is the installation pain. Throughout the whole installation process, we’re using about 10 hours of the building operator’s team’s time, so installation is a low cost and very light from an operational perspective. After that two to three month learning period, we go into autonomous mode, so by month three or four, you’re already seeing savings. That’s the reason why we went from a handful of buildings in May to now having more than 10 million square feet.”