by Sagarika Gami
Mark Chung, an electrical engineer trained by Stanford University, began his venture butting heads with climate change seven years ago. It is widely thought that in order to combat the worst impacts of climate change, global carbon emissions must be cut by 40 to 70% by mid-century. Chung’s company, Verdigris, seeks to aid the process by providing a solution to inefficient energy monitoring and usage. Verdigris came about as a response to “smart meters,” which track where energy is being used in houses, buildings, hospitals, etc. The “smart meters,” unlike Verdigris’ software, are unable to create electrical maps on a large scale to monitor appliances, machinery, lights, and more, and are thus unable to pinpoint the exact sources of energy usage.
Verdigris, now backed by NASA, is able to isolate which sources use more and less energy by mapping every electron that a building uses. Chung created a clamp mechanism that attaches onto electrical wires to measure the flow of current around 8,000 times a second. Basically, these sensors are used to measure the electrical input of any machinery. These clamps collect information from a building’s electrical panel and send the data to the cloud. From here, Verdigris integrates Artificial Intelligence to automatically phase out inefficient appliances by transforming factories and other buildings into living environments. Its technology makes the machinery smarter and more connected, taking the information gathered from the sensors mapping a building’s electrical panel from which their AI is able to analyze the information, the “electrical fingerprints” of each machine, to optimize building controls, predict and prevent future breakdowns, and notify the company regarding energy usage. This technology helps to identify small areas of change, which in turn, adds up to big savings.
Investing in energy-efficient buildings is the cheapest and quickest method to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, yet not many companies take this step. John Sternman (MIT’s Sloan School of Management) attributes this to being a more psychological and political behavior as company attitudes are less inclined to fix something that is not “broken”. Slowly but surely, Verdigris is expanding its reach and its mission, approaching its first 100 corporate clients this year.