Reducing energy consumption in commercial buildings

Heating and cooling office buildings is one of the biggest costs for business. We've developed technology to significantly reduce energy consumption, through intelligent control of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning.

The Challenge

HVAC systems cost business and the environment

Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems provide year-round indoor comfort in buildings regardless of the building type or temperature outside. HVAC systems account for between 40–50 per cent of a commercial buildings energy use and contributes 34.7 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

By improving the efficiency of HVAC systems we can decrease energy consumption; lowering operating costs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Our Response

OptiCOOL intelligent control technology

CSIRO’s experts in automatic control, artificial intelligence, and mathematical modelling have developed an advanced HVAC control system, OptiCOOL intelligent control technology that can be retrofitted to an existing HVAC system.

OptiCOOL uses multiple data inputs, including weather, energy pricing and feedback from occupants, to adjust a building’s HVAC and reduce energy consumption.

Next generation HVAC and refrigeration control technology also integrates self-learning fault diagnosis, suboptimaloperation detection, and predictive control of commercial refrigeration facilities.

The Results

Energy costs reduced by 10-30 per cent in Australia and US

The engagement

OptiCOOL was commercialised in 2009 under an exclusive license to CSIRO start-up company BuildingIQ. Regular support and collaboration between BuildingIQ and CSIRO resulted in further development and improvements.

HVAC systems account for between 40-50 per cent of a commercial building's energy use and contributes 34.7 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

OptiCOOL technology reduces energy use by 10–30 per cent in commercial buildings.

BuildingIQ has since partnered with electricity utilities in the United States to explore uses of OptiCOOL in combination with smart grid technologies. Testament to the opportunities of the technology, several well-established competitors in the HVAC industry have offered venture capital support to partner with BuildingIQ.

The impact

Strategic collaboration between CSIRO and industry has led to OptiCOOL’s successful commercialisation, improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings around the globe.

OptiCOOL is now controlling HVAC systems across approximately 15 million square feet of floor space in Australia and the United States (August 2014), including the iconic Rockefeller Centre in the City of New York.

Independently tested, OptiCOOL technology results in energy savings of 10–30 per cent in commercial buildings.

A recent economic assessment has forecast that the benefits generated by BuildingIQ (using OptiCOOL technology) for Australia could reach $106.2 million1 over the next decade. The technology could potentially save the United States building sector $2.6 billion a year in energy costs.

Download Printable version: OptiCOOL impact case study [pdf · 1mb].

  1. ACIL Allen Consulting, 2014. CSIRO’s Impact and Value – An Independent Assessment.


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