One of the innovations on building energy efficiency is software that enables virtual energy audits - so far, more than a billion square feet of commercial buildings have been analyzed this way.
The software is particularly good at honing in on "low-hanging fruit" - simple behavioral changes or operational tweaks that achieve immediate results. These are harder to identify through traditional on-site audits.
FirstFuel, which raised $10 million for its virtual energy audit software last year, finds these simple changes account for more than half of efficiency opportunities - no new equipment needed.
"More important, these savings often can be achieved without complicated financial decisions and intrusions from third-party contractors," says Jim Borri, vice president of sales for FirstFuel, and "paybacks are nearly instantaneous in many cases."
"The commercial efficiency industry is focused mostly on retrofits with potentially high returns but often large capital outlays. Remote analytics can, however, uncover an entirely new set of energy savings for customers," he says.
Utilities like it because customers then view them as having valuable information. That's because utilities can use the software to inform customers of custom recommendations and actionable information, rather than just hollow energy-savings pitches.
The software can eliminate costly on-site visits or complement those visits, which can generally provide more detailed information.
Virtual auditing software remotely analyzes a building's electricity use. Importantly, it can deliver large scale operational energy efficiency opportunities across entire commercial building portfolios.