This Research Note examines several providers of HVAC optimization software for commercial building operations – in particular, Optimum Energy, Brainbox AI, Grid Edge and aedifion – as their potential for energy efficiency, sustainability and reduction in carbon emissions in heating and cooling systems becomes a more urgent priority.
The acquisition and growth capital investment in Optimum Energy, announced recently by Bernhard Capital, reinforces the goal of the US supplier of HVAC optimization technology to expand their reach and position themselves as “the world leader in intelligent optimization software solutions for large-scale HVAC systems.” Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Founded in 2005, Seattle-based Optimum Energy has a 15-year track record of proven results, serving customers across five continents throughout pharmaceutical, higher education, healthcare, technology, hospitality and industrial end markets.
The company’s HVAC optimization cloud-based software reduces a system’s energy usage and resulting costs by up to 50%. The technology also reduces water use in chiller plants, tracks and reports on savings, provides detailed insights into building system operations, and efficiently scales across entire building portfolios.
Backed by Johnson Controls ten years ago, when the HVAC equipment giant invested in Optimum Energy’s Series B financing round which was lead by venture firm, Navitas Capital. Optimum Energy is one of early innovators in HVAC optimization technology with a strong patent portfolio.
Many more software vendors have more recently entered the HVAC optimization market with AI-powered solutions. Three startup companies in this space are profiled below.
aedifion, a Cologne, Germany-based platform provider which utilizes artificial intelligence to control HVAC systems in a predictive manner - reducing costs of energy and carbon consumption across commercial property portfolios by up to 40%. aedifion was spun out of RWTH Aachen University’s Institute for Building Technology in 2017, a leading research institute.
A recent aedifion case study highlighted the startup’s software in The Ship office building in Cologne. By connecting the Emalytics cloud building management system, and creating a digital twin of all installations, building operations are permanently monitored and analyzed. This makes it possible to reduce energy consumption in line with demand. Annual cost savings of €35,500 have been achieved to date.
In January 2023, aedifion raised €12 million in a Series A round, led by World Fund, a European climate tech investor and BeyondBuild, with participation from the family office of SAP's founding family Hopp. Bauwens, Drees & Sommer and MOMENI Venture also participated, along with existing investors BitStone Capital and Phoenix Contact Innovation Ventures.
Phoenix Contact, the vendor of the emalytics building management system have integrated aedifion’s cloud platform as a fixed component in their solution since 2020.
Headquartered in Montreal, Canada and founded in 2017, BrainBox AI’s optimization technology supports real estate clients in numerous sectors, including office buildings, airports, hotels, multi-residential, long-term care facilities, grocery stores and commercial retail. Brainbox technology has been deployed in more than 100,000,000 square feet of commercial building space, in 70 cities worldwide.
With the acquisition of ABB’s Multi-Site Retail business, Brainbox AI has acquired a significant installed base, enabling the startup to gain further traction in the AI-powered HVAC optimization market.
Founded in 2017, Grid Edge, a UK provider of cloud-based AI building energy management software, offers digital AI software which empowers building operators to reduce their CO2 emissions, bring energy costs under control and improve building comfort. The software is already used by some landmark UK buildings, including the Bullring shopping centre and the Royal Opera House.
In December 2021, Grid Edge closed a new £2 million funding round with participation from bp ventures, Goldacre (part of the Noé Group) and Aston University. In November 2022, And more recently, Grid Edge received a strategic investment from Equans UK, through the Clean Growth Innovation Fund, which supports the UK’s energy, digital and industrial transitions.
In the UK & Ireland, Equans is a provider of technical, FM, regeneration and energy services – with specialist capabilities in smart buildings, green mobility, district & embedded energy and decentralised renewables.
Startups and established firms in HVAC optimization software are benefiting from investments by incumbent players in HVAC equipment, technical facilities management and building automation.
This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.