Most companies experience peak power hours between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on summer days when air conditioners are blasting at full tilt.

But it can occur at odd hours. Mukesh Khattar, the energy director in Oracle's Energy and Environment Group, mentioned to me this week how the software vendor had a grocery store client that was experiencing a sudden surge of power at around 5 a.m. While it dissipated, the surge drove up energy costs. It turned out that bakers at the store fired up the store's ovens at the same time. By staggering the launch, the store was able to smooth out the artificial peak and lower their pricing cost.

Mike Dauber at Battery Ventures, meanwhile, noted that another grocery chain had problems with a surge between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m at a few outlets. An automated check indicated that the applilances were all working, so the chain had a security guard patrol for anomalies. The culprit? The people who unloaded frozen foods. Instead of bringing pallets to the freezer, opening the door, dropping off the food, and closing the door as they left, the workers were opening all of the freezer doors at once and leaving them open until the loading was complete. The process was subsequently changed.

Just a few anecdotes to remind you that building management and monitoring will likely be one of the major topics of discussion this year in green. It's cheap, the results are tangible, and sometimes the problems are easy to fix. EnerNoc recently bought a company to move deeper in the field and landed a contract to analyze Morgan Stanley's New York offices for efficiency. Other companies with a focus on aspects of building management to follow: Cimetrics, Tririga, BuildingIQ, Advanced Telemetry, Agilewaves, Johnson Controls, Cisco, Honeywell, Microsoft, Intel (building management will be where home automation begins, executives at Intel tell me), Adura Technologies, Lumenergi, and EcoFactor.

As Jim Lee, CEO of Cimetrics, told us about a year ago: "The way we heat and cool buildings in the U.S. is absolutely ridiculous."