The building analytics company WegoWise has just nailed down an agreement to acquire the software company Melon Power, and the combination promises to help propel millions of buildings into a more energy efficient future, from single family homes to commercial properties. The new acquisition will provide more building owners with a simple, user-friendly platform for analyzing the energy use of their property, enabling them to target their energy efficiency investments where they will get the most bang for the buck.
The effort is also significant on a national level, because buildings account for 40 percent of the energy used in the U.S. at a cost of more than $400 billion annually according to the Department of Energy. At that scale, achieving more energy efficient buildings is basically the equivalent of finding new domestic sources of oil, gas or coal, but without the environmental hazards.
More energy efficient buildings
According to WegoWise, an inefficient building typically pays about four times more in utility costs than an efficient building. When retrofitted, the savings can be enormous.
The Empire State Building’s recent energy efficient makeover is a good example of the potential payback at the top end of the scale. By replacing thousands of old windows among other improvements, the retrofits have saved $2.4 million in their first year alone. Additional improvements are in store that will achieve a total of $4.4 million in annual savings.
That’s an extreme example, but no matter what their size buildings all face the same challenge when it comes to energy efficiency retrofits, and that is to achieve the greatest savings at the lowest cost. New energy efficiency strategies and cutting-edge technologies are exciting, but with so many new choices it becomes more difficult for building managers to decide which investments are the wisest.
That’s where WegoWise and Melon Power come in, but to see exactly how, it’s helpful to look at them in the broader context of national energy policy.
Better Buildings, WegoWise and Melon Power
In order to accelerate the transition to more energy efficient buildings, last year President Obama launched the Better Buildings Initiative. At its core, it is a suite of technology driven improvements, including the Green Button program.
Green Button is, literally, a green button icon. When fully realized, the Green Button program will enable any electricity customer, anywhere in the U.S., to access data about their energy use online in a standard format.
The only thing that’s missing is applications, including mobile apps, that enable you to combine that data with other information, and put it to use for saving energy. That’s where WegoWise and Melon Power come in.
Utility companies could design their own apps, but the Green Button program is also designed as an economic accelerator, to create new jobs by motivating the startup of new software companies and new partnerships. Green Button essentially creates a single, unified national market for new software.
WegoWise already has a track record in building performance analytics, and Melon Power has already developed an award-winning Green Button app, so the combination of the two is a natural. Melon Power founder Craig Isakow has also come on board at WegoWise as part ot the agreement.
Knowledge is (saving) power
The first step to saving energy is to get some idea of where you are and where you could go. Melon Power’s award-winning app uses data in the Green Button format to help building managers generate an Energy Star benchmark.
The app also enables managers to compare their building’s energy use with other similar properties in the same area, and spot opportunities for improvement.
Melon Power fills the wide chasm that separates smaller properties with limited resources from correcting inefficient practices and infrastructure. It does all the grunt work in terms of data collection and management, and identifies areas with the most potential for rapid payback.
That will be combined with WegoWise’s formidable database. Apparently the largest multifamily utility database in the world, WegoWise includes almost 11,000 buildings in the U.S. and Canada.
WegoWise has also formed partnerships with the U.S. Green Buildings Council and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, enabling it to extend its services to single family homes.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.