AUSTIN, Texas -- Enistic Ltd. has an energy-saving proposition for office tenants – install its wirelessly networked, smart power strips, manage them over a web interface, and take the entire system with you when you move.
The Oxford, U.K.-based company's systems are already being used by IBM in its London office, as well as the U.K. offices of Fujitsu, the Carbon Trust and other pilot clients.
Now Enistic Inc., its U.S. subsidiary, is looking to raise about $1.5 million to get its product certified in the United States and pilot its system in its home city of Houston, CEO Bryan Guido Hassin said Wednesday at the Clean Energy Venture Summit in Austin, Texas.
For about $100 per power strip, plus a small monthly management fee, the company will network the strips via a ZigBee wireless network that allows measurement and control of the devices plugged into them. The entire system is managed over web-based interfaces and can be hosted on Enistic's servers or in-house.
IBM and other U.K. clients are already seeing energy bills reduced by up to 27 percent, Hassin said. He sees the entire service as filling a gap between simple power-saving devices like power strips with timers to turn off non-essential loads (see Green Light post) and complex office energy management systems like Cisco's EnergyWise platform (see Cisco Rolls Out Building Management 'Mediator').
Simpler systems don't have the depth of energy use information, nor do they have the interface that can help employees and office managers learn to save energy on their own, he contended.
And more complex office building energy management systems will remain out of reach for individual tenants, since the building owners will have to spend the money to install them.
But because office building owners tend to pass on energy bills to tenants, "they're not really incented to reduce energy anyway, unless they can find some kind of green value" to make their properties more attractive to tenants, Hassin said (see Green Buildings: More Productive Workplaces?)
And building owners may be more willing to invest in systems they can directly control, such as more efficient lights and air conditioning systems, than they will be to invest in office environments they can't control, he noted.
"There was a huge, gaping hole for a fully integrated and equipment agnostic system," Hassin said. "No one has really captured this market at all."
Enistic's system can pay itself back in saved energy bills in about two years time, he said. That's within the margin that most businesses say is needed to make an energy efficiency investment worth their while (see Green Light post).
Still, $100 per power strip is still about four times more expensive than a traditional, "dumb" power strip, which might be a hard expense to justify in tough economic times.
And there are a lot of big, established players in the commercial building energy efficiency market to compete against, Hassin conceded. That's why Enistic is talking with some of the giant energy services companies – think Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Siemens and Schneider Electric, among others – to see if they're interested in partnering, he said.
After all, when it comes to finding a return for Enistic's would-be investors, "A trade sale is the most likely exit for us," he said.
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