BrainBox AI HVAC Photo

How BrainBox AI supports landlords’ ‘aggressive net zero’ targets

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Karl Tomusk

The proptech platform, which automates HVAC systems in more than 100m sq ft of buildings worldwide, has raised $24m in the first close of a Series A funding round.

Brainbox AI offers real estate owners tools to optimise their buildings’ energy usage and operational efficiency.

The system studies how a building operates, finding possible improvements and continuously making “micro-adjustments” to the HVAC system. Decisions – which require no human input – are made by tapping into data from building systems such as BMS or access control, along with third-party sources for weather and occupancy.

BrainBox estimates that about 45% of commercial buildings’ energy consumption comes from HVAC, of which 35% is wasted. That implies a significant potential for making improvements to operational efficiency.

But, announcing the recent fundraising round, the startup took an environmental approach to its pitch to landlords, calling itself a “scalable and impactful tool” for achieving “aggressive net zero objectives”.

The startup was one of 10 picked for the COP26 Tech for our Planet challenge, which showcases innovations for cutting emissions at the climate conference these next two weeks.

Headquartered in Montreal, BrainBox manages more than 160 buildings across 15 countries.

Grid flexibility

Next on the agenda for BrainBox is to prepare buildings for growing renewable power generation by making them more flexible in how they use energy from the grid.

The intermittent nature of certain renewable energy sources means that energy grids will need to be more flexible, and BrainBox’s goal is to expand its tools to allow buildings to provide energy and capacity back to the grid when they can.

Sam Ramadori, president of BrainBox, said: “With buildings producing 28% of the world’s total carbon emissions, it is more critical than ever to bring scalable clean technology to our cities.

“Overlaying autonomous artificial intelligence on existing infrastructure in the built environment is not only a rapid and impactful means to energy efficiency, but also a crucial step towards future grid-interactive buildings.”

‘Radical change’

The recent funding round was led by ABB, a tech company that works in electrification, robotics, automation and motors, and also included Esplanade Ventures and Desjardins Capital.

Oliver Iltisberger, president of ABB’s Smart Buildings division, said: “Our core focus is bringing radical change to new and existing buildings with safe, secure, smart and sustainable solutions.

“I am confident that ABB’s investment in BrainBox AI, combined with our ABB Ability Building Ecosystem, will help us leapfrog current approaches to digital transformation, further reduce energy costs and play our part in addressing climate change.”

Sheldon Elman, chairman and co-founding partner at Esplanade Ventures, said: “We are pleased to continue to support the strong growth momentum that BrainBox AI is experiencing and the positive impact they are having globally, not only for the environment, but also on the wellness of individuals living and working in buildings that are optimized for health.”

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