The Boston-based building efficiency intelligence company, which has evaluated more than 1.7 billion square feet of space, is now tackling another market segment: multifamily residences.
Retroficiency has teamed up with Conservation Services Group, a company that has implemented multifamily and residential energy-efficiency programs for decades. CSG will use Retroficiency’s platform to offer automated audits, provide customer engagement, and help utilities and real estate owners prioritize efficiency upgrades in their buildings.
The multifamily space historically has been an underserved segment, but utilities and state agencies are increasingly targeting the market for energy savings. If best practices for efficiency were adopted across the whole sector, there could be a $3.4 billion annual benefit, according to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
“The use of analytics platforms like ours to help scale energy efficiency programs...[will] help those underserved segments that have their own unique challenges,” said Mike Kaplan, vice president of marketing at Retroficiency.
CSG will offer Retroficiency’s analytics to existing customers, such as Ameren and National Grid. It is also submitting proposals to other large utilities, including some in California, according to Mark Dyen, executive vice president of strategy and products at Conservation Services Group.
Retroficiency is leveraging CSG’s expertise in the sector to offer some customizations to its software for multifamily customers. Dyen noted that multifamily buildings often have more complex air filtration systems than other buildings, and that will be one area in which the analytics could have some customized features added.
For most utilities, the multifamily energy-efficiency programs are usually first come, first serve. With better analytics, CSG and Retroficiency are offering utilities the ability to scan their multifamily building portfolio and identify the buildings that would benefit from a more in-depth audit and retrofits.
"It doesn’t change the cost of fixing the problem, but [it does decrease] the cost of figuring out what you should treat and what you need to do,” said Dyen. He did not have an exact figure of how much cheaper the solution from CSG and Retroficiency was compared to the standard way utilities have been implementing programs, but said it was likely “much more than 10 percent” less expensive.
Retroficiency’s software has been used in multifamily buildings, but this is the first major partnership for the startup in this space. Kaplan noted that some of the hard-to-reach segments, such as small business or multifamily, are often described as not really caring about energy efficiency. “But it’s often just about getting them better information and insights,” he said. “Often, they don’t even know what the potential is.”
Software-based building analysis firms seem to be everywhere these days, and the focus on underserved sections of the real estate market is growing by leaps and bounds. Other startups, such as Gridium and FirstFuel, also offer software-based solutions to identify savings. WegoWise is a company that specifically cut its teeth in the multifamily space. Retroficiency already works with three of the five largest utility energy-efficiency programs in the U.S.
For now, there is space for everyone. Ratepayer-funded utility programs doubled in recent years to nearly $5 billion, and are expected to double again by 2025.