A new piece of software aims to make getting information about energy efficiency upgrades for commercial buildings as simple as going online to find the value of a used car.
Retroficiency was developed with the idea that it should be easy — and less expensive — to evaluate a commercial building for energy saving opportunities without having it visually inspected. “The best estimates say that there are ways that building owners could save about $400 billion, but the way we assess buildings today is that we send people in to count light bulbs and look at HVAC units,” Bennett Fisher, CEO and founder of Retroficiency, said in an interview. “That can cost tens of thousands of dollars per facility.”
Instead, the web-based application allows energy managers to plug in data about buildings — including information such as age, size, location, hours of occupation, and the amount of the building’s electric bill — and compare it against a vast database of buildings that have already received energy audits by humans. The software then helps determine which energy efficiency improvements among the thousands it considers, such as upgrading insulation or installing LED lighting, might help energy managers save money on utility bills.
Fisher started Retroficiency with co-founder Bryan Long shortly after both graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management in 2009.
According to Fisher, the software is most useful to companies that own a portfolio of buildings, public utilities and facilities management firms. Fisher said that the software will help energy managers prioritize which buildings to select for energy efficiency improvements and within minutes, tell them which measures will have the best payback.
Fisher offered an example of what the software can do to help energy managers:
If you tell us you have fluorescent lights in a certain type of building, we can statistically infer that you have 526 fixtures with four 40-watt T12 lamps and magnetic ballasts. We can then suggest you upgrade to three 32-watt Super T8 lamps and electronic ballasts and show the relevant costs, savings, rebates, increases in ENERGY STAR ratings, decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, etc.
Our optimization engine sorts through thousands of possible combinations like this over all of the building’s systems and builds packages that match the customer’s goal, whether that is a specific reduction in energy, a payback period, or total spend limitations. All of the inputs, inferences, etc. are fully transparent so a user can go back and change/update any information.
The company recently announced that it had raised $3.3 million from investors and had already evaluated more than 30 million square feet of commercial building and facility space.
“Retroficiency Raises $3.3 Million for Software That Helps Building Owners Hone In On Opportunities for Energy Savings,” The Boston Globe, Nov. 30, 2011.
“Green Buildings Software Startup, Retroficiency, Closes $800,000 Seed Financing,” TechCrunch, March 9, 2011.