The morning started with great excitement in our showcase of technologies from MicroDesk, Millennial Net, NSTAR, OutSmart Power Systems, PepperDash, Powerhouse Dynamics and Save Energy Systems. Attendees saw dashboards, software demos, hardware and talked to representatives from these companies about how their products and services are helping businesses manage energy consumption as a strategic asset -- and save money in the process.
Moderator, Scott Clavenna, CEO, of Greentech Media then led an interactive panel session on the challenges facing energy management and the opportunities as we move into the age of big data. The panel included:
- Domenic Armano, Director, Strategy & Innovation, Energy Solutions, Johnson Controls
- Martin Flusberg, CEO, Powerhouse Dynamics
- Carlos Alonso-Niemeyer, Program Manager, Energy Efficiency Services, NSTAR
- Howard Nunes, CEO, PepperDash
Adoption will happen once people are fully engaged - on their terms. This is true for any business interaction. Currently energy management is a nascent market and companies are focused on their technology. A shift is needed to focus more on the business results for the targeted market regardless of whether it is the person responsible for the HVAC system or a CIO.
Another issue is that VCs think of this space as 'noisy'. Companies need to think about how to reverse this impression. The development of standards would help address this issue. According to Armano, standards are critical to success in this market, and would also make it easier for the buyer to buy. Buyers fear vendor 'lock-in', says Clavenna.
So how is Massachusetts doing compared to the rest of the country in adopting and investing in energy management? In 2011 Massachusetts was first in the nation for energy efficiency and had its highest investment in cleantech on record. Domenic Armano highlighted the great organizations here like the Cleantech Open. Massachusetts utilities like NSTAR offer incentives to support new technologies, http://www.nstar.com/business/energy_efficiency/electric_programs/ . Martin Flusberg spoke from the investor's point of view and reminded the audience that Boston is a conservative investment market, but that he is seeing signs that VC's are looking to make earlier investments in energy management companies.
With the onset of the cloud, big data and data analytics, there are ample opportunities for businesses to see patterns in the energy data and realize the potential for cost saving. Specifically, fast growing sectors like IT data centers that have intense cooling requirements and associated energy costs associated with them, can benefit from monitoring tools. There are also many opportunities in healthcare, though perhaps harder to realize given the regulatory environment.
Johnson Controls has recently announced the creation of an open-source platform able to integrate into building systems with third parties developing applications. According to Flusberg more executives with access to data are seeing energy costs as a controllable expense which provides motivation to invest in energy management systems. NSTAR has also started a pilot program for home energy management and mobile reporting, .
The true power of this data is yet to be realized. There will be challenges along the way, such as privacy and security issues, as well as questions regarding the ownership of the data and ultimately how the data can be used to the advantage of service providers and consumers in providing visibility to energy consumption and the ability to realize savings.
Links to participating companies:
Thank you to our Sponsors:
Autodesk & Foley Hoag