The story of energy efficiency is hardly new. But like all good stories, an evolving plot effectively – one might say efficiently – moves the narrative forward. Gone are the days of energy efficiency dismissively referred to as little more than a sign of “personal virtue” with no “basis for sound national energy policy” – suddenly replaced with an “almost frantic excitement” over the possibilities of incorporating efficiency as a cornerstone not of only energy policy, but also economic recovery.
And the sudden buzz in Washington over efficiency has Collin Breakstone, VP of Business Development for Agilewaves, eager to spread the message, if perhaps just a little bemused. After all, Collin, with whom we first spoke last year, along with his colleagues at Agilewaves, have been leaders in the efficiency market since those dark days when all they had going for them was their “personal virtue.”
The truth is that Agilewaves, like many others, has long understood efficiency as the low-hanging fruit of energy sustainability. Through development of their innovative Resource Monitor (voted one of Sustainable Industries Top 10 Green Building Products for 2008), Agilewaves has helped bring the concept of energy efficiency into real-world practice. That Washington has been slow to catch on only shows how it is incumbent on visionary businesses like Agilewaves to help lead the way. Something that Washington itself has apparently realized.
Change, my friends, is in the air.
Seeking out the visionaries
The months since the election has triggered, according to Breakstone, a “waterfall of activity” for the company and for the story of efficiency in the public sector. Last December, CEO Peter Sharer was summoned to Washington to consult with legislators and the Obama transition team about incorporating efficiency as a core component of the new administration energy policy. Agilewaves is also working within the HUD green initiative including incorporating the commercially optimized resource monitor in buildings as part of a national pilot program.
The administration’s new stimulus package (pdf) includes $11 billion for smart-grid technology demonstration projects aimed at modernizing the nation’s electrical grid. A big part of creating a smart grid comes from smart metering. “Knowledge is power,” and through a massive installation of network-based communication devices – smart meters – knowledge can be brought to the consumer (power to the people!) in the form of real-time feedback on energy consumption. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Plan seeks to add smart metering to 40 million homes and upgrade or build 3000 miles of new transmission lines in the next three years.
The last 50 feet
Those thousands of miles of new and improved transmission lines leads to, of course, buildings. According to the US Green Building Council, commercial buildings like apartment complexes, hotels, office buildings, schools, and museums are responsible for 39% of all US energy consumption and 72% of electricity use. Improving energy efficiency in buildings can provide the quickest payback in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Agilewaves represents the last 50 feet of the expanding smart-grid; where, if you will, the rubber meets the road in terms of realtime resource monitoring and feedback – the smartest of the smart meters. By acting as the nervous system in intelligent building design, in which a host of networked devices control heating, cooling, and lighting, Agilewaves’ goal is to drive down energy consumption in buildings by 50%.
This isn’t new for Agilewaves. What is new is the sudden D’oh! of awareness from both the private and public sector.
The story of efficiency is finally at a confluence of several factors driving forward a demand for energy efficient building solutions, including the rollout of smart-grid technologies like the Agilewaves Resource Meter:
- An increasing strategic focus on energy and environment among leading corporations in response to impending climate change legislation, volatile energy pricing and a need for cost reduction and consumer awareness.
- A major focus in the economic stimulus package on investments that provide green jobs while cost effectively advancing clean energy and energy security objectives.
- Utility rate decoupling, which disconnects utility returns from revenue growth and provides strong incentives for energy efficiency.
Until now, the primary focus on clean energy investment has been on costly and capital-intensive technologies like wind and solar electricity generation. Continued progress in rolling out these technologies is a vital core component of the new energy economy and part of the Obama stimulus plan, but, as we’ve known all along, the best source of energy, the cheapest, cleanest electron, is the one you don’t use.