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Artificial intelligence reduces HVAC costs while bumping up yields

October 14, 2020  By Don Horne

Photo: BrainBox AI

Reducing energy costs is top of mind for greenhouse operators, and artificial intelligence (AI) applications that can work in real-time with cloud networks are proving invaluable.

One such company – BrainBox AI – announced the launch of its driver for the Niagara Framework, the first AI application to utilize an autonomous real-time cloud connection to the platform.

Omar Tabba

“Using the BrainBox AI integration for the Niagara Framework enables building owners and managers to make their buildings fully autonomous, which improves occupant comfort, and reduces both energy-spend and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Omar Tabba, vice president of Products & Solutions at BrainBox AI.


For greenhouse growers, this can mean considerable energy and cost savings.

“We’re excited about working with the greenhouse community,” says Tabba. “We think there is a strong potential fit, given the relevance of energy and cost structure; the potential for the optimization of yield. Using the analogy of an office building: we’re concerned with driving down costs and increasing comfort. For greenhouse growers, we’re going to drive down costs, but also optimize crop yield.”

There are a number of ambient variables for each greenhouse and each type of plant. “The AI provides the optimal mix for each grower, and we can work with growers to maximize this,” says Tabba. “Our system, once we have the constraints (parameters from the grower and environment), we can provide a model for the optimal yield.”

What gives artificial intelligence an advantage over simple HVAC systems is that it learns and can then provide accurate predictive models.

“We take in building data in, but also take in the weather data. It is highly granular and highly customized,” says Tabba. “The AI learns the relationship of the weather outside and the environment inside. It is a ‘short training period’ and the AI can predict 99 per cent of the time what the environment is going to be inside the building two hours in advance.”

“This is key for determining optimal temperature and humidity in a greenhouse.”

The Niagara Framework is an open platform for the building automation market, with over 920,000 installations around the world.

The BrainBox AI driver “enables building owners and operators to bring AI to Niagara-controlled HVAC systems, quickly and easily, transforming HVAC systems from reactive to pre-emptive, using the sensors and equipment already in place within a building.”

Once fully optimized with BrainBox AI, an HVAC system can deliver up to a 25 per cent reduction in total energy costs, 60 per cent improvement in occupant comfort and 20-40 per cent reduction in a building’s carbon footprint, according to Tabba.

BrainBox AI’s driver supports both the AX and N4 versions of the Niagara Framework, and is the first AI technology designed specifically for HVAC systems in commercial buildings. BrainBox AI’s solution leverages deep learning neural networks, cloud-based computing and algorithms, to predict a building’s thermal load and enables the HVAC system to operate autonomously, for maximum impact on energy consumption and occupant comfort.

Additional information on the BrainBox AI Driver for Niagara can be found on the Niagara Marketplace.

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