The Line Between Smart Grids & Smart Buildings Has Blurred

Where do the worlds of smart grid and smart buildings overlap? In my weekly update at GigaOm Pro (subscription required), I dive into more detail on two big acquisitions in the intersection of smart grid and smart building announced last week, and I detail how the deals show just how muddy that line is becoming.

If you missed it here was the news: On Monday last week, French power giant Alstom announced it was acquiring UISOL, maker of one of the more popular demand response open software platforms among big U.S. grid operators. Then, on Tuesday, IBM announced plans to buy Tririga, which makes software that tracks energy use, carbon emissions and sustainability metrics across building portfolios of many Fortune 500 firms.

The first deal buys Alstom entrée into the world of automated demand response, at first on a system-wide level, but potentially entering the building-controls realm as well.

The second deal brings IBM (s IBM) a piece of energy efficiency and sustainability software built with the real estate portfolio manager in mind, as well as a big customer base that may be a target of IBM’s wide array of smart grid, smart building and smart city technologies.

As grids and buildings get more closely interconnected, these intersections will offer new ways to get utilities and their customers in sync with their energy needs — at first as a technical accomplishment, and later as a revenue-generating line of business. I get into more detail at GigaOm Pro about how the above deals offer insight into the way smart grid and smart building technologies are crossing over, and how energy pricing is the next frontier in building-to-grid integration.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Commercial-scale demand response providers have also been reaching out into broader building-side and enterprise-wide offerings, a trend I covered in my GigaOm Pro update, “Demand Response as the Back Door Smart Grid” (subscription required).

On that note, EnerNoc (s ENOC) had an announcement last week that fits into the smart grid-smart building scene. The big demand response provider landed a contract with utility Southern California Edison, not for demand response, but for signing up SCE customers for EnerNOC’s building efficiency platform.

EnerNOC has been acquiring a series of companies to add building efficiency, continuous commissioning, energy procurement, sustainability planning and OpenADR compatibility to the products it can offer its existing customer base. In fact, the company estimates that the market for building energy efficiency could grow to 10 times the value of demand response — a good reason for traditionally “smart grid” centered companies to look for ways to get behind the meter as well.

Image courtesy of Dystopos via Creative Commons license.