Starting with data centers, Carbon Relay is slashing energy costs and emissions using AI

Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn International is
backing
Carbon Relay,
a Boston-based startup emerging from stealth
today, that’s harnessing the algorithms used by companies like
Facebook and Google for artificial intelligence to curb greenhouse
gas emissions in the technology industry’s own backyard — the
datacenter.

Already, the computing demands of the technology
industry are responsible for 3% of total energy consumption — and
the addition of new technologies like Bitcoin to the mix could
add another half a percent to that figure within the next few
years, according to Carbon Relay’s chief executive, Matt
Provo.

That’s $25 billion in spending on energy per year
across the industry, Provo says.

A former Apple employee,
Provo went to Harvard Business School because he
knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur and start his own business —
and he wanted that business to solve a meaningful problem, he
said.

Variability and dynamic nature of the data center relating to
thermodynamics and the makeup of  a facility or building is
interesting for AI because humans can’t keep up..

“We knew what we wanted to focus on,” said Provo
of himself and his two co-founders. “All three of us have an
environmental sciences background as well… We were fired up about
building something that was true AI that has positive value… the
risk associated [with climate change] is going to hit in our
lifetime we were very inspired to build a company whose technology
would have an impact on that.”

Carbon Relay’s mission and founding team including
Thibaut Perol and John Platt (two Harvard graduates with doctorates
in applied mathematics) was able to attract some big backers.

The company has raised $6 million from industry giants
like Foxconn and Boston-based angel investors including Dr. James
Cash — a director on the boards of Walmart, Microsoft, GE,
and State Street; Black Duck Software founder, Douglas Levin; Karim
Lakhani, a director on the Mozilla Corporation board; and Paul
Deninger, a director on the board of the building operations
management company, Resideo (formerly Honeywell).

Provo and his team didn’t just raise the money to
tackle data centers — and Foxconn’s involvement hints at the
company’s broader goals. “My vision is that commercial HVAC
systems or any machinery that operates in a business would not ship
without our intelligence inside of it,” says Provo.

What’s more compelling is that the company’s technology
works without exposing the underlying business to significant
security risks, Provo says.

“In the end all we’re doing are sending these floats…
these values. These values are mathematical directions for the
actions that need to be taken,” he says. 

Carbon Relay is already profitable, generating $4
million in revenue last year and on track for another year of
steady growth, according to Provo.

Carbon Relay offers two products: Optimize and
Predict, that gather information from existing HVAC devices and
then control those systems continuously and automatically with
continuous decision making.

“Each data center is unique and enormously complex, requiring
its own approach to managing energy use over time,” said Cash,
who’s serving as the company’s chairman. “The Carbon Relay
team is comprised of people who are passionate about creating a
solution that will adapt to the needs of every large data center,
creating a tangible and rapid impact on the way these organizations
do business.”

Source: FS – All Tech News 2
Starting with data centers, Carbon Relay is slashing energy costs and emissions using AI