Rob Day, a partner at Black Coral Capital and periodic author on this site, writes a lot about the "next wave of cleantech investing." Rather than focus on the expensive, failure-prone investments in technology development, venture investors are becoming more interested in business model innovation that will allow companies to slide through the cracks of the energy system and create major change from within.

Black Coral Capital has acted on this thesis, investing millions in companies with a clear path to market: the intelligent lighting company Digital Lumens, the integrated energy-efficiency services firm Next Step Living, and the virtual auditing company Noesis Energy.

We profiled Texas-based Noesis Energy in our intelligent efficiency report released this week. Noesis is one of the many startups in the virtual auditing space that remotely survey buildings in order to drop project costs for energy service professionals. It's a promising space with a variety of evolving business models. Rather than target individual projects one at a time, Noesis has created a free platform that allows building owners to compare virtual audits and project proposals from various service providers. The company has more than 9,000 users and has assessed over 1.2 billion square feet of buildings.

Now, the company is getting a boost through a partnership with the energy-management behemoth EnerNOC. Noesis announced today that EnerNOC will use the platform to connect with potential customers looking to invest in energy efficiency projects. EnerNOC has nearly 14,000 sites under management worth $1.7 billion in energy expenditures -- creating a view of the grid better than any utility in the country. Getting a company of EnerNOC's size to expand its customer acquisition channel onto a new platform is a big deal for Noesis.

"This is a huge vote of confidence. EnerNOC has built a customer base unparalleled in this market -- and the partnership between Noesis and EnerNOC is going to help activate those customers to get into a lot of improvement projects and other advanced energy actions," said Rob Day, who also sits on the board of Noesis.

Last fall, Noesis raised $8 million in a series B round from Black Coral Capital. Day said that this partnership is a positive signal for his "next wave" investment thesis.

"It's another sign that at this point, business model innovation is as important as technology innovation in these markets. That, and a really awesome team, are what we liked about Noesis when we first looked to invest in the story," he said. 

We'll just have to see if EnerNOC gets the quality customers it's looking for and sticks with Noesis over the long term. That's the true vote of confidence for the platform.

For a look at how companies like Noesis and EnerNOC are leading the intelligent efficiency market, read our free report, Intelligent Efficiency: Innovations Reshaping the Energy Efficiency Market.