Economy

Zeus: How this startup cracked a smart cooling case and won over McDonald's and Taco Bell

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

(David Callaway is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Callaway Climate Insights. He is the former president of the World Editors Forum, Editor-in-Chief of USA Today and MarketWatch, and CEO of TheStreet Inc.)

SAN FRANCISCO (Callaway Climate Insights) — Manik Suri is a Harvard grad from Delhi who worked both on Wall Street and in the Obama White House. But it’s in a palm-sized, radio-controlled device that can control temperatures in industrial cooling systems that he sees his future.

Suri, CEO and co-founder of Therma, is an energy efficiency enthusiast, who is betting his San Francisco startup has cracked a way for large hotels, restaurants, hospitals and schools to save millions on refrigeration costs, and help reduce load on their local utility grids at the same time.

“We think of refrigeration as a battery. Energy in the form of cold storage,” Suri told me recently on the roof deck of his classic San Francisco startup’s office, sitting atop a sushi house in the gritty Mission neighborhood. “It turns out you can tap that battery. If we can lower or turn off refrigeration for a short period of time, we can save energy.”

More than 16% of the estimated 50 billion tons of greenhouse gases emitted by global economies comes from electricity used in buildings, including industrial ones. Cooling systems are a prime culprit. By reducing temperatures and saving electricity at scale, energy efficiency can greatly reduce emissions…

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