Summer was a busy period for companies working on the connected home. It was also filled with activity from companies working on making buildings smarter, with $28.9 million in investments and a couple notable strategic partnerships.
Below is a summary of some of the top activity in intelligent efficiency within the commercial building sector.
Investments: Enlighted, Enertiv and Lucid collectively pull in nearly $30 million
Enlighted, a startup from Sunnyvale, California developing new wireless sensors and management software for connected lighting, closed a Series D round worth $20 million in late August. That brings the company's total raise to $55 million. All of Enlighted's existing investors -- Draper Nexus Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, RockPort Capital Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Intel Capital -- participated in the latest round. The money will be used to build new applications and expand sales throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
"Do we want to grow quickly or hunker down and be cash-flow-positive? In general, we are going to focus on growth," said Tanuj Mohan, the founder and chief technology officer of Enlighted, in an interview.
Lucid, an Oakland, California-based startup with analytics software for commercial buildings, closed a Series-B round worth $8.2 million. Formation 8 Partners led the round, with Zetta Venture Partners also participating. Lucid plans to grow its engineering team and refine its software platform, BuildingOS, which is designed to easily connect disparate energy systems on a common communications network. Unlike Enlighted, Lucid is profitable today and has relied on sales to fuel its organic growth.
"Resource constraints forced us to make some tough choices. Not having a lot of access to capital made us really understand what customers found valuable," said Lucid CEO Vladi Shunturov in an interview.
Finally, Entertiv, a New York-based company making meters and sensors for smart buildings, closed a $750,000 seed round in July to hire more hardware and software engineers and expand its sales force. Vaidya Capital Partners and R/GA led the round.
Partnerships: FirstFuel and Opower combine analytics; Autodesk invests in Lucid
Opower made a very important strategic move last week by partnering with FirstFuel to offer utility customers deeper analytics for commercial buildings. The partnership will give Opower an expanded engagement platform beyond residential and small commercial, while giving startup FirstFuel a large built-in customer base.
Will an acquisition be in the works? Naturally, neither company will comment. But they've been very eager to talk about the strong complementary relationship, and Opower CEO Dan Yates told GTM that the market can expect more news from the two companies in the future.
Autodesk, a design and engineering firm with its own building energy modeling tool, also participated in Lucid's latest $8.2 million round. Autodesk has been piloting Lucid's building operating system at some facilities where it's monitoring performance. The company wants to use Lucid's BuildingOS platform to streamline energy monitoring when buildings are being designed and built, as well as once they are in operation.
Updates: BuildingIQ updates its software; Intelen releases a refined app for the U.S. market
BuildingIQ, a San Francisco-based company with continuous commissioning software designed to monitor HVAC use, released the fourth generation of its product in August. In response to customer demands, the company said it would provide more transparent data on how buildings are performing, putting more emphasis on local control rather than remote control.
The new version will include clearer predictive and historical data so that building managers can make decisions on their own. It will also feature an enhanced reporting tool that gives building managers detailed information on how different decisions impacted energy consumption.
"The biggest piece of feedback we got was that we couldn’t be a black-box solution. We want to make this as transparent as possible," said Peter Dickinson, BuildingIQ's chief technology officer, in an interview.
And in July, Intelen, a company operating out of Greece and New York City, unveiled an updated version to its gamification software for buildings. The startup has developed an offering it calls "BiG," which allows schools and corporations to create games and quizzes to encourage occupants to compete in energy savings, recycling and other environmental initiatives. Building operators can also used the data gathered to create customized efficiency programs tailored to the behavior of occupants.
Odds and ends: WegoWise develops a new performance score for multi-family buildings
Boston-based startup WegoWise, which provides analytics and virtual audits for multi-family buildings, created a system that grades buildings based on energy and water efficiency performance. Green building certification systems like LEED typically reward building owners for sustainable materials and construction techniques, but don't rate energy performance as highly. WegoWise is attempting to fill in that gap by pushing its own grading system that factors in carbon emissions, energy use and water consumption. The company is hoping the system will take hold in cities with strong benchmarking laws.
“A WegoScore condenses numerous complex measurements of building performance into one number,” said WegoWise CEO Andrew Chen. “It is a tool for the real estate industry to easily communicate efficiency efforts among owners, managers and occupants. It also can highlight superior asset management practices to the financial markets.”
For more on how companies in the smart building space are adapting their strategies, watch the panel below from the Soft Grid 2014 conference featuring executives from Retroficiency, FirstFuel and Blue Pillar: