With the goal of operating a better business, commercial building owners are constantly seeking greater HVAC efficiency wherever they can.
Mankato-based startup 75 Fahrenheit (75F) goes beyond regulating temperature on a room-by-room basis by incorporating a proactive measure of weather forecasts into its predictive system.
This innovation has made them a finalist in the Minnesota Cup’s Clean Energy division this year.
Deepinder Singh, CEO of the company, explains the importance of this feature with a simple comparison:
“Think of it as driving down a road. If you see a car coming in the distance, you make small adjustments with the steering wheel to avoid it. If someone pulls right out in front of you, you have to slam the brakes, swerve and zigzag.”
75F launched its product in March and is marketing toward mid-sized commercial buildings, with 36 paying customers already using it. The system utilizes sensors that communicate with a Central Control Unit, which collects information from throughout the building and interfaces with a cloud-based server to create a thermal model:
The 75F system is actually the evolution an idea that was developed by Singh and his team several years ago. Their original product, called Suntulit, was a fully automated climate control system for residential use; it was a finalist in the 2010 Cleantech Open and was winner of a 2011 GE Ecomagination Award.
Suntulit was in talks with large retailers to distribute the product into the residential market, but when those talks stalled out, Singh decided to diverge and enter the commercial space under 75F.
“We take inspiration from the fact that people are beginning to raise the summer set point from 72° to 75°F to be more ecological. In fact, we think 75F is ‘the new cool’,” he says of the name brand.
The target market is buildings in the 2500 square foot range, such as a doctor’s office or multi-facility. There’s an installation cost (about $5,000) and an annual subscription fee around $300, but Singh says that money saved on energy costs will help the system pay for itself within three years.
Considering the environmental gain, the benefits of using 75F go beyond just financial savings.
75F has 15 employees (three on the business side here in Minnesota / 11 on the engineering side in India) and although self-funded, Singh is exploring a first round of angel investor financing.
“Complete building automation system in a box is the end pursuit,” he concludes.