One of the oldest names in building networking is linking up with one of the newest names in management.

Echelon, which has been selling power line networking equipment and other building management tools, said it will integrate the SeriousEnergy Manager from Serious Materials into some of its offerings and resell Serious' software-as-a-service through its regular channels.

Serious got its start in green building materials but last year moved into building management tools with the acquisition of Valence Energy, which spun out of Santa Clara University. Serious says its service can trim power bills in commercial buildings by 20 percent or more. The tool primarily analyzes building energy consumption, but Serious hopes to add automation, as well.

Like others in this space, expect Serious to link its software tool to demand response/demand management services and add light control to the mix. Right now, the tool mostly ferrets out inefficiencies with air conditioning. Echelon, along with building controls, has tools for controlling streetlights. None dare call it conspiracy.

Elsewhere:

--Whirlpool has agreed to adopt technology from Tendril so that its smart appliances will connect to home energy management systems and demand response services. Do appliances need to be smart? Some, like Vinod Khosla, say no. If you can reduce power consumption in appliances enough, there's not much left for active networking and HANs to accomplish. Swapping gas pilot lights for electronic ignition reduced home power consumption in California by nearly ten percent, some have said.

On the other hand, networking makes it easier to shift certain tasks -- such as defrosting and high-heat drying -- to off-peak times. If networking is cheap enough, why not?

“This will forever change how consumers interact with their appliances and how they conserve energy in their homes," said Adrian Tuck, CEO of Tendril, in a prepared statement.

A new relationship with your Toast-R-Oven awaits you. Expect to hear more at Distributech.

--TRW Automotive holdings has agreed to explore opportunities for the variable transmission coined by Fallbrook Technologies. Fallbrook raised $39 million toward the end of last year. It also filed preliminary papers for an IPO.

--Italy's MX Solar announced it has started running modules out of its New Jersey factory. The factory can currently crank out 65 megawatts of modules per year and will expand to 130 megawatts by August. New Jersey is the second largestsolarmarket in the U.S. -- the state apparently offered a bevy of tax incentives to lure MX, but who isn't these days? Whether clean can revive manufacturing in the U.S. is a lively, active debate.

--Finally, Cisco teamed up with Ecotality on car charging. Ecotality's Blink charger will link to Cisco's home energy  manager. Like a few other car charging companies, Ecotality hopes to get consumers to sign up for subscription services. The company, however, seems to be taking a more realistic approach than many others. See more here.