Building Robotics, a startup that makes intelligent software systems for office buildings, has raised $1.14 million in a seed round led by Claremont Creek Ventures (CCV), Google Ventures, Formation 8, Navitas Capital, Red Swan Ventures and other angel investors. The Oakland, Calif.-based company says it will use the funds to add expertise in building management, development, back-end operators and user experience design.
The first product by Building Robotics is Comfy, a software system that is meant to “meaningfully reconnect people to the heating and cooling in the work environment” by making offices more comfortable while also saving energy. Office workers can control the software, which is designed to be compatible with most existing HVAC and management systems, with mobile and Web apps. Comfy provides instant warm or cool air to people while its machine-learning algorithm analyzes their usage patterns and feedback to reduce energy use.
Software like Comfy can not only reduce electricity bills and the average of 100 million tons of carbon dioxide that are emitted by U.S. power plants every year, but it may also potentially diffuse air conditioner wars–one of the most brutal elements of office politics–by pinpointing individual users and allowing them to control the temperature of their workspace.
Comfy is based on an open-source platform developed by Building Robotics co-founders Andrew Krioukov and Stephen Dawson-Haggerty while they were Ph.D. researchers in computer science at U.C. Berkeley’s LoCal Group.
Building Robotics join other startups that have received investor attention by using tech to make buildings more energy-efficient and comfortable. Perhaps the most high-profile example is home hardware maker Nest Labs, which has raised a total of $80 million in funding so far. Another example is Bidgely, which has raised a total of $8 million from Khosla Ventures to make software that allows consumers to monitor and manage their household energy use.
But even though most of us spend a significant part of our lives at work, intelligent software systems are difficult to scale up for commercial buildings. Building Robotics is seeking to gain traction through pilot deployments at several large tech companies in the Bay Area, as well as a federal building through the General Services Administration’s Green Proving Ground (GPG) program. The GPG seeks to evaluate innovative sustainable building technologies by installing them in some of the 300 million square feet of real estate managed by the GSA for the U.S. government.
“Building Robotics’ business strategy fits perfectly within Claremont Creek Ventures’ investment thesis. CCV invests in companies that are merging intelligent, comprehensive product design with innovative technology to give the user an empowering, productive experience. Comfy does exactly that,” said Nat Goldhaber, managing director of CCV, in a statement.