This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson of Tomlinson Business Research.
The newly released Global Cleantech 100 Report for 2015 includes emerging players offering innovative software, solutions and new business models, reflecting the market disruption currently underway in the smart buildings market.
Global Cleantech 100 is a comprehensive list of private clean technology companies with the highest potential to make the most significant market impact over the next 5 to 10 years and are most admired for their innovation, market traction, financing, partnerships and leadership.
The Energy Efficiency sector accounted for the largest number of companies out of the 17 sectors listed, with 21 companies in the 2015 list. Including companies in other sectors such as Smart Grid and Energy Storage, 19 firms are targeting large energy users in commercial, institutional and industrial buildings.
Software is a key differentiator. The majority are providers of intelligent software for building energy management, demand management, intelligent lighting controls or energy storage.
Building Energy Management Software
- FirstFuel’s Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, which is comprised of FirstEngage and FirstAdvisor, applies analytics to meter and business data, enabling energy providers to deliver individual insights to all their business customers. Since its commercial launch in late 2012, FirstFuel has analyzed data from more than a million building meters, providing intelligence to the largest utilities, energy service providers and government customers across North America and Europe. FirstFuel’s total funding from venture capital investors and E.ON amounts to $45 million to date.
- Building Robotics, based in Oakland, CA is a 2-year old start-up, focused on people-centered comfort in commercial buildings, rather than on energy efficiency. They provide software which allows office workers to have input on the temperature in their office via their mobile phones. According to the company, the increased transparency, coupled with algorithms that can learn people’s preferences, lead to more efficient buildings, happier workers and higher productivity. Building Robotics has received $6.6 million in venture capital funding, including Google Ventures, to date.
- Blue Pillar is a US provider of facility Internet of Things (IoT) and energy management solutions for complex single site and centralized multisite facilities. Blue Pillar’s Aurora, Avise Insite and Avise Foresite software platforms connect, control, and manage data to help organizations improve energy resiliency, efficiency and overall facility operations. The software is currently installed in over 255 facilities. The company has received about $25 million in venture capital funding since it was established.
- OSIsoft, provides the PI system, an open infrastructure to capture and leverage sensor-based data across the enterprise to improve efficiency, sustainability, quality and safety. Schneider Electric established a strategic alliance with OSIsoft in 2013 in order to integrate the PI System capabilities into their StruxureWare software suite.
- 4Energy (Nottingham, UK), providing an innovative approach to energy and infrastructure management for data centers with their SMARTset DCIM software and patented free air cooling products ideal for deployment in small and medium facilities. Investors include British Gas.
Demand management hardware and software providers include companies with Smart Grid technology platforms such as Enbala Power Networks, AutoGrid Systems and Encycle Corporation and Restore and Kiwi Power, two demand response aggregators.
- Encycle Corporation, formerly Regen Energy, a Canadian based provider of a patented wireless smart grid technology platform, Swarm Energy Management, which combines demand management, consumption management and intelligent demand response to maximize savings and efficiency. It allows commercial, industrial and institutional buildings with little-to-no building automation to participate in the rapidly growing automated demand response and dynamic load management markets.
- Kiwi Power, a UK demand response aggregator, which attracted investment from Engie New Ventures last year. The company has developed demand response hardware and software used by large industrial and commercial consumers of electricity such as industrial and manufacturing plants, office buildings and hospitals who can use demand response to reduce electricity demand on the network when energy usage is at peak levels.
Intelligent lighting controls from innovators such as Enlighted and Digital Lumens
- Enlighted (USA) offers networked lighting control solutions for energy management. Its LED lighting controls, smart sensors and IoT platform allows building owners and operators to glean insights such as energy usage, space utilization and worker productivity from their commercial spaces. The company is also using the “lighting as a service” new business model, giving customers a guaranteed monthly savings on their electric bills.
Energy Storage Solutions with Intelligent Software. Companies highlighted by Cleantech include Green Charge Networks, Sunverge Energy, Advanced Microgrid Solutions and Stem.
- Advanced Microgrid Solutions (USA) specializes in the creation of “hybrid electric buildings,” office or infrastructure buildings that contain large battery systems that can simultaneously reduce energy costs for users and owners, and also help strengthen the larger grid by running on batteries at key times, and thus not requiring grid power. Investors funding the company include the French utility, Engie and the ex-California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (the company’s CEO, Susan Kennedy is the governor’s former chief of staff).
- Stem is a US provider of energy storage solutions and behind-the-meter learning software to businesses with the added benefit of no up-front cost to the building owner.
Many energy efficiency players targeting commercial and industrial buildings have already been acquired by power producers, building management companies, energy service providers or software vendors. Smart building innovators can expect to be closely followed by both the investment community, building technology infrastructure suppliers and energy companies looking to acquire.