Zen and the art of energy management

Today’s electricity prices are enough to make anyone break out in a cold sweat, with many businesses feeling the heat. One tech company’s solution is an innovation for controlling the climate of our buildings more efficiently, which could also prove good for the climate of our planet.

Recently, TAKE2 member Zen Ecosystems received a major grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to subsidise a product that manages heating and cooling systems via smart thermostats connected to the cloud. The grant was recognition of the role such technology can play in protecting against power outages.

“During extreme weather events, demand for electricity can reach levels that exceed grid capacity,” says Michael Joffe, chief financial officer of Zen Ecosystems. “To help reduce electricity load during these peak times, our Zen HQ system uses pre-cooling and load reduction algorithms to reduce air conditioning use.”

While the government’s interest in the technology centres on energy security, the potential to reduce energy costs by up to 20 percent is likely to prove attractive to businesses on the hunt for operational efficiencies. Michael says the company’s cloud-based technologies appeal because they are user friendly and require minimal investment upfront.

“It makes energy management accessible because it reduces installation time and allows busy building operators to ‘set it and forget it’, with automated insights and controls. It avoids wasting bandwidth on manual adjustments, allowing facility managers to do more and save more.”

Zen Ecosystems has already found success in the US, where the Environmental Protection Agency estimates commercial buildings waste approximately $120 billion in energy costs annually. Early signs suggest Australian consumers will respond with similar enthusiasm to the technology, particularly in Victoria.

“Our first deployments in Australia only started just before the summer season, but we already have compelling data reinforcing the net benefit of our air conditioner controllers in the Australian market,” says Michael, pointing to a large resort in Queensland that saved 10.8 per cent over the summer quarter, and a year-on-year estimated energy saving of eight per cent for a restaurant in Victoria, as examples.

In its efforts to promote smarter energy practices, Zen Ecosystems is also showing how technological innovation can empower businesses and homeowners to fight climate change directly, by providing the ability to monitor, control and optimise the way they use and conserve energy.

“We believe that to get rapid adoption of new technology, or change the way that businesses go about their daily operations, technology companies have to work hard to develop value propositions that are hugely positive, simple and obvious,” says Michael.

“When technological innovation is done in a way that simultaneously delivers commercial benefits, like cost savings, and environmental benefits, like greenhouse gas reduction, this is automatically another step towards slowing climate change.”

As for the company’s own environmental actions, Michael says the decision to join TAKE2 was about acknowledging that sustainability goes beyond the products they sell, requiring instead a holistic approach to behavioural change across the entire business.

“The TAKE2 pledge gives us a strong, actionable framework to ‘walk the talk’ and improve our own business sustainability.”

Managing energy use is one of the many ways businesses can help Victoria reach net zero emissions by 2050. Find out other ways to improve the efficiency of your commercial building and then start promoting your actions by updating your TAKE2 pledge.