Big data meets commercial building energy

Ditch the hardware and embrace big data and analytics — that could be the key to monitoring and managing energy consumption of commercial buildings. On Thursday, startup FirstFuel Software, which uses big data tools to crunch energy info about commercial buildings, announced that it’s raised $2.4 million from Battery Ventures and Nth Power, and rebranded itself (from iblogix).

FirstFuel Software is able to use its analytics and a set of data to remotely determine energy information about a commercial building, like consumption habits, and give recommendations for how to make it run more energy efficiently. The company says it uses no onsite hardware or onsite energy audits, to get this data, and yet says its information is as accurate as information received through an onsite energy audit, which is far more costly. The data sets needed to produce an accurate set of energy information includes, utility-based electric and gas data for a year, the location’s weather and climate data, as well as GIS mapped building data.

If you don’t believe in the accuracy of the remote assessment, the company had its analytics tested by the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems via a Department of Energy grant. FirstFuel Software says the study found that its software “has the potential to be a valuable engine for the large scale benchmarking of buildings and to identify energy-saving opportunities without on-site audits.”

The major customer for this tool is utilities, which want a cheaper and quicker way to determine the energy information about commercial customers. Using the information, utilities can give both operational recommendations and retrofit recommendations that can lead to energy savings, and can continue monitoring consumption data remotely.

Other startups are turning to big data to solve problems with energy, like EcoFactor, Opower, Geostellar, SAP and Hara.

Images courtesy of FirstFuel Software.