Research Foundation News

August 2, 2016

Purdue-based startup develops software that could dramatically cut utility costs for commercial building owners

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.; ARLINGTON, Va. – A Purdue startup is commercializing a software solution that could allow commercial building owners and occupants to cut utility costs by optimizing the controls for their heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

Andrew Martin, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering as well as an MBA from Purdue, founded Grissom Controls LLC, to further develop and commercialize the product.

Martin said the company’s software integrates with a building’s existing automation system to make it run smarter.

“Each room in a building receives a certain amount of air flow to keep it at an ideal temperature, and that determines how much outside air you’re bringing in for ventilation,” he said. “Grissom Controls software is able to take all of this data from the building, the air flow in each room and the temperature inside and outside, and use current utility rates to figure out how much it costs to operate the building under certain set points. The software can then determine which set points minimize costs and implement them into the system.”

Grissom Controls retrieves basic information from the customer, such as how many rooms a building has, the square footage of a building, how rooms are used and fan characteristics, before creating a customized software package. The software is then installed for each central air handling unit in the building.

Grissom Controls’ software is also able to substitute controls if certain utility prices are at a high or low.

“If electricity is expensive one summer afternoon, our system is able to evaluate the prices and then optimize controls so that the building perhaps won’t use the fans as much and instead just cool the air more, or whatever the best combination is at that time to minimize the cost while maintaining a comfortable environment,” Martin said.

He added that building occupants and patrons don’t have to worry about proper temperature and good ventilation being compromised to save money.

“Occupants or people in the building shouldn’t notice a difference at all,” Martin said. “Right now buildings have technology that maintains a comfortable environment, and that won’t change. The only people really seeing a difference is whoever is paying the utility bill, by seeing a reduction in cost.”  

Martin said that similar products currently available aren’t able to actively control a building.

“There are a lot of products out there that allow companies to pull data from a building and analyze it, to see if there are any problems or changing trends; however, they’re not actively controlling the building and making decisions in real time,” he said. “I’ve yet to see any programs that are able to optimize air flows from a global perspective, how ours does.”

Technology used by Grissom Controls has been licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. Grissom Controls is a member of the Purdue Startup Class of 2016. Purdue has 27 startups based on Purdue intellectual property that were launched in fiscal year 2016.

The company has begun testing its technology and plans to further develop the product and update the data before taking it to market.

“I was able to test the product in a building at Purdue that has 98 rooms and it yielded great results. It showed a 54 percent in cost savings for that particular building within the two weeks,” Martin said. “Right now our software is compatible with a system provided by one of the major players in the market, but we’d like to learn more about other companies’ systems to be able to make it compatible with theirs and have a bigger reach. The core algorithm would stay the same, but how it receives and sends data would change.”

Grissom Controls receives help from Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator located on the Purdue campus.

“I started going to Foundry Grounds in the spring of 2015 and then learned more about the entrepreneurial opportunities at Purdue. That led me to being mentored by two entrepreneurs in residence from the Foundry, which has been vital to getting my company off the ground,” Martin said. “Most of the work I’ve done so far has been done while interning at Purdue’s Physical Facilities department, and they’ve been great in fostering an environment where I could cultivate and test my idea.”

Grissom Controls is seeking relationships with building automation system providers to develop the software to be compatible in a wider range of systems. 

For information on other Purdue intellectual property ready for licensing and commercialization, visit http://www.otc-prf.org. For more information about available leadership positions, investing in a Purdue startup or licensing a Purdue innovation, visit http://www.purduefoundry.com.

About Grissom Controls

Grissom Controls is developing a software solution that can optimize controls for heating, cooling and ventilation systems in commercial buildings. The software integrates with a building’s existing automation system to make it run smarter and lower the cost of utility bills.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at innovation@prf.org

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org

Source:  Andrew Martin, marti330@purdue.edu  


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