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Exclusive: Monaire raises $3.5M for AI-powered HVAC

Mar 20, 2024
Illustration of a robot hand adjusting a thermostat.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Monaire, which makes AI-enabled building management systems, raised a $3.5 million seed round to build out the product, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Inefficient HVAC and refrigeration systems in small commercial buildings are wasting energy and costing owners money.

Zoom in: Construct Capital led the round with participation by Workshop Ventures, Toast co-founder Steve Fredette, and A-Street co-founder Tom Kuo.

  • Co-founders Rahul Subramany and Nish Kanapilly previously were executives in the HVAC industry and noticed that the big suppliers were ignoring the small commercial building market made up by retailers like restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.
  • Subramany says the tech has been installed at 150 locations, mostly across Wisconsin, and he plans to expand to Illinois, Minnesota and the New England area this year.
  • He also plans to use the funds to start offering customers energy-efficiency upgrades and associated financing, as well as ways to dispose of refrigerants, which can emit greenhouse gases.

How it works: Monaire installs its thermostat and sensor network in a customer's building and plugs it into the existing HVAC and refrigeration systems.

  • The company's AI can then analyze the heating and cooling data and act as an autonomous agent, monitoring it, detecting falls in efficiency and identifying fixes.
  • The Monaire system can automatically deploy a fix by changing the thermostat or contact a third-party technician to help if a repair is needed.

Big picture: Monaire is an example of how AI can be used to make an inefficient, mostly manual, system more efficient and smarter.

  • Startups and big companies are leveraging AI for all parts of the energy and climate sectors, from better weather predictions to detecting early wildfires to making data centers run more efficiently.
  • As the climate warms, the world will also be adding more cooling, says Subramany: "This entire process is not sustainable and we wanted to do something about it."
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