A free online service launches to manage building energy data

A startup called Noesis, based in Austin, is launching a free energy data service for buildings owners and managers on Wednesday. The company is the latest to use big data and software to try to get building operators to reduce their energy consumption, but Noesis is slightly different in that it offers a free component and has also created an online meet-up for energy efficiency technology companies.

“Free has been a competitive factor in a lot of industries, and we think it makes sense in our industry,” said Noesis CEO, Scott Harmon. To use Noesis’ service, building owners or managers input their energy data and in return receive regular reports that show consumption trends and comparisons among buildings they own or manage.

The company recently completed a trial offer of its service, and Noesis says the free service has signed up owners of over 4,400 buildings that cover 380 million square feet internationally. Customers that have registered included hotels, school districts, colleges, restaurants, a drug company, a bank and a chip maker. Those building owners tend to track the energy use of multiple properties – some of which are located in different cities and states.

Noesis hopes the free leads to potential paying customers. Noesis plans to make money by licensing its software and service that provides detailed analyses and modeling of energy reduction plans – from budgeting to returns on investments. The service also can help building owners measure and validate the results of energy reduction projects.

Noesis also charges a fee for finding and uploading energy data for building owners who don’t want to do that in order to get the free or for-fee analytics. In addition, the startup charges fees to companies in the building energy management field — from lighting and sensor sellers to energy audit software developers — that want to advertise their services to Noesis’s registered users.

Building owners who want to save money on electricity are in luck. There’s a wide range of option for tools and startups that will conduct energy monitoring, forecast and management. Some startups focus on using energy data and modeling to provide forecasts while others are employing sensors and computers to reduce the energy consumption of appliances and industrial equipment automatically in order achieve energy reduction goals.

Harmon said he’s found that building owners mostly don’t want to cede the control of tweaking energy use to machines. Some of them don’t trust that the technology will be intelligent enough to reduce energy use without compromising, say, their hotel guests’ comfort.

“It sounds great on paper: if we control the lights then you can save 10 percent. But it’s their building, and they don’t want a cloud gadget controlling the temperatures for their occupants,” Harmon said.

The name Noesis is a Latin term for “understanding through the intellect or reason,” Harmon said. The company chose it to note its aim to use reason and analytics to understand data, he said. The startup received its Series A funding of $6.5 million last year and closed the Series B of $8 million this year. Its investors are Black Coral Capital and Austin Ventures.