The Italian energy tech start-up Enerbrain turns regular buildings into smart buildings with their intelligent system. It is deigned to cut energy consumption by up to 30%. The result is improved cost-effective performance, indoor comfort and environmental sustainability.
In order to make environments more efficient, Enerbrain uses autonomous modules for real-time analysis of environmental data, remote energy management and control units for buildings. In a nutshell, a customized monitoring system collects the data and an IA system process the data and finds the best solutions. Then finally the control units regulate the existing system operating in the building. In addition to this, Enerbrain has designed a complete dashboard as well. This is available for browsers and tablets, and is where all the information can be accessed. Consequently, the web app enables the control of separate buildings or entire real estate portfolios.
Use of the Enerbrain technology can help reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 30% and cut operating costs by 10%. This could increase the value of the building by 7%, according to the start-up.
Innovation Origins talked with Giuseppe Giordano, CEO and co-founder of Enerbrain.
Why the focus on buildings?
At present, buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of carbon emissions worldwide. We spend on average 90% of our life indoors and we want to make our cities more sustainable, smart and people oriented.
What was the most challenging thing about designing this technology?
As we utilize the latest technologies such as IoT, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, we had to put together a multidisciplinary team with expertise in diverse areas including HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), mechanical engineering, energy, hardware, telecommunications, software, data analysis, design, and operations. Assembling and cultivating a winning team – as well as investing in research and development a couple of years before being on the market – was a successful strategy.
How exactly does it work, making an environment more energy efficient?
It all starts with the eNodes, the sensors which constantly monitor temperature, CO2, relative humidity, VOC and air pressure. They send all this data to the Cloud. Then, the Cloud uses sophisticated machine learning algorithms that process the most ideal parameters for comfort and energy efficiency. This is then to the control units. Lastly, the control units receive all these figures and can consequently adjust the air conditioning in order to maximize comfort and reduce energy consumption by about 30%.
And, thanks to the Dashboard, it is possible to monitor and manage the entire building portfolio in real time
What was the biggest challenge while setting up Enerbrain?
Winning over the first customer required a lot of work and out-of-the-box thinking. Nowadays, every time we approach a new market it feels like another start-up story for us. It is very difficult to build trust without a previous relationship and it requires a lot of time. Yet the good news is that winning over the customer’s trust brings investors, team members, banks, partners on board and fuels continual growth.
What is it that Enerbrain brings to the table that other similar start-ups don’t?
Our system not only keeps energy consumption under control, but also automatically intervenes so as to improve a building’s energy balance. The operator can check the efficiency of the systems at any time – even with their smartphone. But the truth is that everything happens without human intervention. Furthermore, a machine learning algorithm enables the system to constantly refine its programming to eliminate any potential waste.
Do you operate exclusively in Italy?
No, we already have had projects outside of Italy. We have collaborated with Planet Idea to create the first smart city in Fortaleza, Brazil. We have taken on projects in France, Spain, the Emirates and we are currently working on several others around Europe.
Plus, we opened two international headquarters this year, one in Japan and one in Barcelona.
Who is the Enerbrain customer?
Our usual stakeholders are facility managers and all the other professionals involved in managing large non-residential buildings from an energy standpoint. The field of application for Enerbrain systems is as such airports, schools, hospitals and shopping malls. However, we have also designed specific applications for industry. As far as all of this is concerned, being able to cut energy bills has a decisive influence on the balance sheet.
What is your ultimate goal?
You see, in big non-residential buildings about 30 percent of the energy is wasted due to poor management of air conditioning systems. We are able to reduce this waste using a system that is quick to install, and which works immediately. If our systems were to be installed in all non-residential buildings in the world, 1.6 billion tons less CO2 would be released into the environment. That is equivalent to 170 million trees.
What can we expect from you in the next year?
Enerbrain is in a growth phase. Our focus is on scaling our impact across various markets. And establishing strong relationships with trusted partners such as energy utilities, energy service companies, facility management companies and engineering firms. We aim to reach a milestone of €10 million in revenue within the next 2 years. Expansion into foreign markets is a must. We are pursuing opportunities in Europe, Middle East, Asia and America. And we aim to stay agile and innovative. We want to extend our services along with our aim of being a trusted partner for our customers.
But ultimately, we want to be a leading company that is able to operate around the world and provide scalable solutions which have great financial and environmental impact.