Chicago company licenses CU-developed software used for efficient energy

By Staff

Clean Urban Energy (CUE), a Chicago-based company developing building-efficiency software, has completed an exclusive licensing agreement with the University of Colorado, granting the company the exclusive right to commercialize a software tool developed at CU-Boulder through a collaborative research program put in place by the university and CUE.

The software, jointly created by CU-Boulder architectural engineering professor Gregor Henze and CUE, is part of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that monitors the performance and electric demand of a building's heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system in relation to its thermal mass (the mass in and of the building, such as concrete, furniture, and books). Once the software has "learned" how energy is stored and released by the building's thermal mass, it implements strategies that optimize the building's HVAC operations as a function of electricity prices, hourly temperatures, humidity, solar radiation and carbon emissions. Ultimately, CUE uses the thermal mass of these buildings as large-scale thermal energy storage for urban smart grids. This storage capacity introduces demand flexibility into electric grids, positively impacting reliability of the grids themselves.

"Through this collaboration with Dr. Henze and the university, we have created, and will sustain, industry and research leadership in clean energy," said Vince Cushing, chief technology officer at CUE.

"We are very fortunate to have this partnership with Clean Urban Energy," added Kate Tallman, director of Technology Transfer for CU-Boulder. "CUE provides Dr. Henze's technology with access to a real world test bed in Chicago and a ready path to market."

CUE demonstrated its technology in 50 large commercial buildings in the Chicago area in 2009, and in 2010, the company used this software to optimize two office buildings in the Chicago Loop totaling 1.94 million square feet. CUE plans for full launch of its SaaS platform for the 2011 cooling season. CUE recently closed with Elan Management on a seed financing round that will propel the company to market.