Scientific Conservation says it will go big this year.
The company -- which makes tools for analyzing energy consumption in industrial and commercial buildings -- already has 15 million square feet under management. By the end of next year, it will control 100 million to 150 million square feet, says CEO Russ McMeekin. The company charges an annual fee for every square foot it manages, so if it can pull this feat off, it could join the ranks of Silver Spring and OPower as green companies growing at a fast pace.
The massive growth spurt springs from two sources. First, the company is racking up deals with large customers like General Electric, Boeing and Neiman Marcus. General Electric alone has 32,000 different facilities. Scientific Conservation may not find its way into all of them, but even a portion would represent a lot of real estate.
Second, the company takes humans out of the equation as much as possible. The software takes the mathematics behind neural networks and applies it to building management, examining data concerning weather, the HVAC system, and occupancy, and then compares it against computerized simulations to determine what's not working, or what's about to fail. The system then feeds this data into the existing building management system. Maintenance workers can go fix AC units or replace overheating parts while the building management system adjusts the air conditioner. In the end, the building is continually commissioned.
Some of the math behind the software comes from work conducted on the space shuttle program.
"We use diagnostic methodologies that have been around for 25 years," he said. "We infer what is happening."
In the end, the system gives facilities managers a steady stream of automated responses about their building.
Other companies and software services require consultants and more hand-holding to analyze the data, he argues. McMeekin likens Scientific Conservation's system to TurboTax. Yes, a real live accountant might be able to wring more deductions out of your tax return, but TurboTax will catch the vast majority of them and, in the end, will cost less.
Scientific Conservation does not try to manage or control the lights or air conditioners in buildings. It merely feeds data into the existing building management system. In fact, the company's system right now only monitors the efficiency of the HVAC system, not lights or other equipment. Those other appliances might be added later, but aren't part of the mix now.
Granted, other companies -- EnerNoc, Serious Materials, BuildingIQ, Cimentrics, Redwood Systems, General Telemetry -- note that their management services provide automated, continuous responses (and if we had a live lab, we'd test them all out). All of these competitors also say that they will increasingly provide automated control over appliances like air conditioners or lights, a function Scientific is punting on for now.
"We are hands-down the largest provider of what you would call persistent or monitoring-based commissioning. We've got 100 massive customers. We've got the California State University System [...]; we've got Boeing," EnerNoc's Gregg Dixon told us earlier this month. Serious, through its acquisition of Valence Energy, claims Santa Clara University as a customer.
Still, McMeekin has a point. Commissioning buildings -- the process of fine-tuning them for efficiency -- is usually performed by consultants, not software-based services. New York City, for instance, has required building owners to recommission their buildings every six years. This kind of software service makes commissioning an ongoing event.
The company, which has received funding from Draper, Fisher Jurvetson, and the Westly Group, among others, has had a bit of buzz around it for a while, but it's been hard to figure out exactly what makes it different. But if Scientific Conservation meets its goals, we might have an answer to that question.