Building energy optimization software jointly created by architectural engineering Professor Gregor Henze and the Chicago-based company Clean Urban Energy, is creating large-scale energy and cost savings while introducing demand flexibility into the urban electric grid.
The technology is part of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that manipulates the performance and electric demand of a building’s heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system by harnessing thermal mass (the mass in and of the building, such as structure, furniture, and books).
Once the optimization system has determined how energy is stored and released by the building’s thermal mass, it implements strategies that optimize the building’s HVAC operations as a function of electricity prices, hourly temperatures, humidity, solar radiation, and carbon emissions.
Clean Urban Energy demonstrated the technology in several large commercial buildings in the Chicago area in 2009, and in 2010, used the software to optimize two office buildings in the Chicago Loop totaling 1.94 million square feet. The company recently completed a licensing agreement with CU granting it the exclusive right to commercialize the software algorithm.