Tech to Measure Tech

4 min read

Energy Tracking Tools

“We’re seeing tons of technology but you still need someone to watch it,” asserts Brian Klansky, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Bright Power, Inc., an 11-year-old energy management company in New York City. “Often you’ll see a project whose energy saving systems doesn’t work over time because no one’s monitoring it. By Year-Three or Four, you’re almost back to ground zero.”

As efficient energy management systems become increasingly sophisticated and costly, building owners understandably want to be assured that promised returns- on-investment are real. And those who are contemplating sizeable new projects or upgrades need to know that recommendations are grounded in reliable data.

Bright Power has developed a sophisticated tool called EnergyScoreCards, an online energy measurement and management, verification and benchmarking system specifically designed for multi-tenant buildings. It organizes energy and water usage data, supports financial planning for energy efficiency improvements, and tracks the progress and success of conservation efforts.

“The issue,” says Klansky, “is that owners are into real estate, not energy. So ‘ownership’ of energy management falls somewhere between the super and the property manager, but it’s in no one’s paycheck. So a lot of recommendations used to fall on deaf ears.”

Bright Power offers a range of energy management capabilities as well as design and installation services that represent a new paradigm, according to Klansky. But EnergyScoreCards, he says, “is the tip of the spear.”

“The first step – the leading indicator – is to rank energy use. We load in every energy and water account online. We’ve built a platform that can grab all of that, then clean the data so it all relates and is understandable. We become the advocate for the owner, and we’re also the advocate for the tenant, if the owner wants. We pair the project with one of our analysts, so actually, the biggest user of our tool is us.”

To begin this process, Bright Power will often tell a client to “pick the projects that are the most messed up. Then, if the data indicates, we can do audits. We can say, ‘Here’s the problem,’ ‘Here are what incentives are available,’ and ‘Here’s the savings you will realize through implementation.’ This has real value to the operating budget.”

To achieve that value involves analyzing a multitude of variables. “This is all about data-driven decision-making,” says Barun Singh, founder and Chief Technology Officer of five-year-old Wegowise of Boston, another company on the leading edge of evaluating energy efficiency.
“Wego” is derived from the first letters of water, electricity, gas and oil.

Singh notes that about 39 percent of CO2 emissions come from buildings, more than either transportation or industry. “The gap between efficient and inefficient buildings is enormous. About four times as much money is spent per square foot on an inefficient building over an efficient one.”

An example of the scale of savings possible through energy usage analysis is Mass Save, part of a program run by Wegowise for investor-owned utilities in Massachusetts. In 2012, Wegowise identified $137 million of potential retrofit savings for a portfolio of affordable housing.

“Imagine if you scaled this nationally,” says Singh.

In another case, an owner had four similar buildings, one of which turned out to be using a million more gallons of water per year than the other three. “That’s the level of savings that people are missing until they get a handle on it; getting at the information they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. You need to know which buildings are the outliers so you know where you should put your resources. Then verify it at the end.”

Wegowise has come up with a three-tiered pricing structure that Singh hopes will encourage clients to put entire portfolios into Wegowise. WegoHome offers free monitoring for homeowners. WegoPro, at $10 per building per month, is an online platform that automatically imports utility data on each building to help the client benchmark, track and analyze energy and water usage and costs. WegoPremium offers the same features as Pro, plus a suite of advanced periodic reports.

As Wegowise collects more and more data, it will be able to benchmark industry standards so that a client can compare not only its own buildings but also others of a similar size and type.

“We think this is going to transform the real estate market in general,” says Singh.

Brian Klansky has similarly broad goals for Bright Power. “We want people to do more buildings and reduce energy and carbon admissions. And we’re here to help them do it.”