Recurve, the energy efficiency retrofitter and software developer, is getting a retrofit itself.
The company has hired Andy Leventhal as its new CEO, replacing Pratap Mukherjee. Leventhal co-founded Planet Metrics, a carbon accounting company, in 2007, and sold it off to Parametric Technology in February.
The change in CEO will also usher in some organizational changes. The most important is that Recurve will spin off its operational group -- which conducts home energy audits and retrofits -- into a separate subsidiary with separate offices at some point in the future. Recurve proper will then become a full-fledged software developer.
Recurve (initially called Sustainable Spaces) started as a home energy retrofitter. As the company progressed, it began to amass data on best practices for retrofitting and curbing energy, which it then condensed into a software package.
In 2009, the company began to realize that the software package could be licensed and sold to large, existing construction companies. (See the first story on Recurve's software strategy here.) Becoming a developer would in turn allow Recurve to scale rapidly and avoid the costs and headaches of building local offices and obtaining contractor's licenses in different states.
Google alumni started to work at the company while the executives formed alliances with large contractors and others like Lowe's and Grupe Homes to beta-test the software. (See Post-It notes diagramming a decision tree in this photo of co-founder Matt Golden.)
"We've been trying to operate two very different businesses," said Leventhal.
Earlier this year, Recurve had to lay off employees after the PACE program, which eased the process of financing retrofits, got suspended.
Data and results from the beta program will come in the near future. Lowe's will start to use the software to conduct audits and retrofits in and around 20 Bay Area stores starting this week. Pacific Gas & Electric, the large utility in northern California, recently announced that homeowners can obtain $3,500 in rebates from the utility for conducting retrofits on top of the $1,500 already offered as a federal tax credit. (That means a $5,000 discount on retrofits, according to addition analysts at Greentech Media.)
Homes and the appliances and fixtures inside them consume 20 percent of all of the energy used in the U.S. That energy isn't used in a particularly efficient manner, either. Matt Odynski, who owns a Victorian-era home in San Francisco, says he expects to save $3,600 on his annual utility bill via retrofit.
Leventhal said that Recurve will also flesh out its pricing strategy for the software. Right now, the company is leaning toward charging contractors a per-audit fee and a monthly subscription fee for using the software. The software fees will not likely be tied to the size or scope of the audit.
"We have gotten pushback on a retrofit fee," he said.
In part, the concerns revolve around the potential conflict between an audit and a retrofit. An audit, ideally, exists to identify ways a homeowner can save money. A retrofitter might be more interested in expanding the project. (See Neal Dikeman's experience with retrofitter GridPoint for more on this issue. Disclosure: we had Recurve do a small retrofit on our house earlier this year, but we paid the standard price, were mostly interested in insulation issues, and my wife made all the decisions. Everything worked out fine.)
While Recurve's software, conceivably, could be ported to help study commercial buildings, Recurve will stick with residences for now. The commercial market is already somewhat crowded. The complexity of commercial buildings and the way they operate also puts more emphasis on continuous commissioning -- i.e., constantly resetting air conditioners or lights -- than retrofits.
And, of course, the data behind Recurve's software comes from homes.
Eric Wesoff contributed to this story.