4. Building Management and Networking: Echelon

It isn't easy to pick a clear leader in the business of networking commercial and industrial buildings to improve energy efficiency. Several huge players – Johnson Controls, Honeywell, Siemens – incorporate energy efficiency into their building automation offerings.

But among those giants – Johnson Controls being the top pick among analysts for market share – many share the use of a technology for building networking developed by Echelon Corp. And the San Jose-based company, which also has a smart meter business, is hoping its LonWorks platform will serve as the backbone for a new generation of building energy efficiency systems tied into upcoming smart grid deployments (see Echelon Beefs up LonWorks).

While almost all of Echelon's smart meter contracts are in Europe, it is working with Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy in a 60,000 smart meter project in Cincinnati and is hoping to play a role in multi-hundred thousand smart meter deployments the utility is seeking permission to start in Indiana and Ohio.

And Duke's Chief Technical Officer Dave Mohler has said that LonWorks could be a good platform to integrate into the utility's smart grid deployments, given that it's already in place in a lot of commercial buildings.

That being said, Echelon is more dependent on its LonWorks as a share of revenues than are any of the industrial giants that use it for their building automation lines of business – and those giants also offer their own proprietary systems for the task.

In the meantime, a host of startups – Sentilla, Arch Rock and Millennial Net among them – are emerging with wireless solutions (see Sentilla Raises $3.75M To Compete in Data Center Power Fray and Arch Rock's Wireless Energy Optimizers).

Others such as Cimetrics, Tririga, HID Laboratories and Optimum Energy are focusing on specific systems like lights, air conditioning or real estate energy use analysis (see Controlling Energy Consumption, A Million Square Feet at a Time).

And then there's the entry of Cisco Systems into the field, with its EnergyWise platform that will help cut energy use for phones, computers, building HVAC and lighting systems and other commercial office space energy wasters (see Cisco Jumps Into Energy Management for Computers, Buildings).

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Tags: a123 systems, aes, altair, american electric power, austin energy, building management and networking, comverge, cpower, demand response, duke energy, echelon, emeter, energy storage, enernoc, general electric