The three-year program will provide the software to utility-funded energy assessment programs in which COSE, an Ohio-based small business support organization, is serving as the program administrator. The free audits will go to at least 1,500 small and medium businesses. The partnership is not Retroficiency’s first foray into smaller buildings, but it its most significant to date.
“There’s been a flurry of interest in the space in past few months,” Bennett Fisher, CEO of Retroficiency said of small business energy management. “Buildings are still complex, but it’s almost like a residential play.”
The interest is primarily coming from utilities, many of which have already plucked the lowest-hanging fruit (usually lighting) in this sector of the market. Many states have growing energy efficiency goals, and with the largest commercial buildings already engaged, small and medium business is the next step.
Unlike the big guys, there are various pain points for the average business. The owner does not have an energy management firm managing his business. There simply isn’t the capital to afford the downtime that a major retrofit might require. Companies peddling energy savings opportunities that were never realized have burned many small businesses in the past.
Enter Retroficiency. For many utilities, small commercial is enticing but frustrating. It requires a lot of boots on the ground. Ideally it requires segmentation. A corner grocery store is not the same as a clothing store. “It’s about giving them the tools to allow them to target the right small and medium businesses,” said Fisher. “And it allows them to be more effective once they get in there.”
The Boston-based startup combines public and proprietary data to create building energy models to shed light on where energy is being wasted without even entering the building.
The deeper retrofits require more money, and potentially downtime, for a business. Retroficiency’s modeling can offer different scenarios to a business owner to consider, whether it’s added insulation or upgrading the HVAC.
“Utilities and their program administrators such as COSE are recognizing that in order to tap the full potential of the [small and medium business] market, they must deliver a comprehensive set of energy conservation measures, once reserved for larger customers, at the same scale required for the residential segment,” said Fisher.
Outside of the small and medium segment, the bulk of Retroficiency’s business is still coming from large buildings. The startup has nearly 300 million square feet under its belt in the last year and a half and has saved companies 1.4 billion kilowatt-hours in energy use.