Iain Stewart and Tim Stewart, Exergenics

It’s been a big couple of years for Exergenics co-founder Iain Stewart who is building a business around his machine learning-enabled solution for improving the energy performance of HVAC and refrigeration systems.

The startup is close to taking its commercial HVAC optimisation software, called PlantScore, to market, with an early version of the product going into buildings at The University of Melbourne, Monash University and the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

It’s also working with Coles to apply the same data analytics overlay to its refrigeration systems that Stewart estimates will achieve about an 8 per cent energy saving.

Since starting the business on his own in 2019, Stewart’s brought on his twin brother, Tim, as co-founder to take care of business development. Just this week, the duo were selected on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia List for 2021 (Industry, Manufacturing & Energy section).

Stewart says he’s also hired a couple of extra staff, including some help to transition the platform to the cloud. He says the plan is to keep growing the team pending the outcome of an upcoming seed funding round and conversations with investors. So far, the company has survived off the personal funds of the co-founders.

It’s been tough getting a business up and going throughout Covid, Stewart says, but the startup has had some help along the way. It’s gone through the EnergyLab and the University of Melbourne’s accelerator programs and attracted the support from the iHUB program (led by AIRAH and supported by ARENA) that showcases emissions reducing innovations in HVAC.

Stewart has big hopes for the technology, which has evolved into a plug-in type solution that can be used with existing building management systems, with no specialist technicians required.

If the technology was installed in HVAC systems across all Australian offices, retail, hospitals, tertiary education, data centres and government buildings, he says there could be an annual cost savings roughly $500 million and abatement potential of 2.7Mt CO2e.

He also imagines the refrigeration optimisation technology could save the supermarket sector $40 million and have an annual abatement of 216 kt CO2e.

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  1. I wonder if they are also tackling the refrigerant problem with HFCs leaking into the atmosphere, & if they are promoting any low GWP HVAC & R tech.
    HFCs remain a massive problem & urgently need to have credible alternatives implemented.