The U.S. Department of Energy currently lists almost 400 different building energy management software tools, leaving property managers with the daunting task of figuring out which ones can best help them find cost-effective ways to increase energy efficiency, use more renewable energy, and achieve more overall sustainability. If that sounds intimidating, you are probably not alone. However, if you are new to the field there are a number of free, relatively simple software tools that you can use to get familiar with the basics of building energy management, before investing in a more involved service.
One free software tool from a startup called Noesis Energy caught our eye because it gives building managers a user-friendly overview of their situation through an online platform, which could provide enough information to motivate the purchase of add-on services from the company.
Noesis Energy’s free building energy management software
Though only in public operation for about six months, Noesis’s free energy management website has already built a base of 6,000 commercial, industrial and institutional users who have uploaded information on more than 22,000 different facilities. Overall, the input represents an impressive total of more than one billion square feet.
The free site provides all the services you would expect from a basic energy management tool, including benchmarking and performance tracking, along with extensive user education services like videos, webinars, white papers, tip sheets and discussion groups.
Throughout the website, the presentation is crisp and clear, which can be particularly appealing to energy management newbies while providing more experienced users with high value information.
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, Noesis hopes that you’ll check out its fee-based Noesis Data Service, which among other services includes online connections with hundreds of utilities throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Noesis Energy and Green Button
If you’re familiar with the Obama Administration’s Green Button energy management initiative for buildings, then you’re probably guessing that Noesis Energy is going to join the program, and you would be right. The company has already begun the process, which it expects to complete within the first part of this year.
Noeisis announced its support for Green Button last December, and it’s no accident that the initiative dovetails precisely with the company’s toolkit.
Green Button launched last year with the aim of enlisting utility companies across the country to join together to adopt a standard online data format for energy use, and provide it to their customers literally with the click of a uniform “green button” desktop icon.
Aside from encouraging the nation’s property owners to improve inefficient buildings as a significant, untapped source of “found” energy, the Obama Administration hoped that Green Button would foster job creation by providing a national market for new software companies, and Noesis is a perfect example of the initiative’s success. As the company stated in its announcement of support:
“…access to energy usage data presents one of the largest obstacles for organizations focused on proactive energy management. Collecting the information from utilities directly or keying in data from paper bills can be time consuming and error prone. By supporting Green Button, Noesis Energy can allow Green Button users to automatically collect and upload their data into the Noesis platform, keeping their energy analysis reports and analyses up-to-date.”
What about the little guy?
Noesis Energy is a good example of the kind of services that Green Button participants can offer to relatively large users, but the initiative is also designed to serve homeowners and small property managers.
At that end of the sale, we’ve been following a building analytics company called WegoWise, which has just acquired the startup Green Button affiliate Melon Power. The combination has the potential to cover millions of buildings, including single family homes as well as large commercial properties.
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