FirstFuel Software (previously called iblogix), a US company that provides software to analyse the energy use of commercial property, has announced that it has won $2.4m in an initial round of financing. The company will use the money to accelerate adoption of its Rapid Building Assessment (RBA) platform.
The investment is a show of faith in FirstFuel’s zero-touch approach to assessing energy usage. The FirstFuel RBA platform profiles the energy performance of buildings without requiring on-site audits or devices. The software combines electric and gas usage data from utilities with weather and climate data and GIS- mapped building characteristics to produce a view of how energy is being used inside the building. The analysis benchmarks energy use against similar buildings in the same area to come up with recommendations for saving energy.
Cadmus Group, an energy engineering and consulting firm, apparently field-tested the FirstFuel software, comparing the results with an ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) audit for a school. It found that FirstFuel’s analysis was within 10% of on-site calculations and the recommendations were consistent with on-site results.
The software is mainly aimed at utilities who can use it to benchmarking the consumption of an entire portfolio of commercial buildings much more quickly and cheaply than using traditional approaches. The recommendations lead to cost savings in the buildings, while the retrofit recommendations generate qualified leads for existing utility programs.
FirstFuel’s innovative approach makes assessing the energy use of commercial buildings a quick and affordable process. It’s interesting that similar approaches have emerged in other aspects of energy assessment and management, for instance in data centres. Viridity’s EnergyCenter software identifies equipment and uses reference tables to assess energy use. Combined with data on average server utilisation and the number of under-utilised servers in provides actionable information for data centre managers.
These cheaper and simpler green ICT solutions certainly have a part to play. Even if less accurate, they are good enough to identify where savings can be made and what actions can be taken. It will be all that many (if not most) companies want or need and provide an introduction to energy management for those that ultimately move on to a more detailed or comprehensive solution.