WegoWise taps big data for energy efficient apartment buildings

While sometimes overlooked, the multi-tenant apartment building market represents a significant target for energy efficiency retrofits.

Clearly there are savings to be had in small commercial building performance upgrades, but challenges remain in project costs, incentive programs and simply finding a place to start.

Enter WegoWise. With a Web-based platform to analyze water, gas and electric utility bills for building performance, the company relies on data as its secret sauce to target the $2 billion multi-tenant building property market in the U.S.

Key to the Mass.-based startup's success is a cloud-based energy management toolkit and universal access to utility data, said Andrew Chen, CEO of Wegowise in an interview. "Cheap computing power, cheap storage and data-sharing makes it all possible."

The company takes a holistic, systems-view approach in aggregating information on building characteristics (square footage; windows and lighting information; heating, ventilation, and cooling assets) with regional weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well behavioral tenant information.

Subscribers to the WegoWise platform crunch all that data with automated monthly utility information to assess overall building performance.

"With information stored in one place, building owners can benchmark and identify major outliers in their building portfolio," said Chen. Users of the WegoWise system can then target resources to reduce operational costs in energy retrofits.

Chen says utility bills represent about one-third of all operational costs for multi-family and small commercial building owners.

Next page: New partnership with U.S. Green Building Council

The interface is designed to be simple and user-friendly, plotting building portfolio information on a grid to determine best and worst building performances. Users can also drill-down into granular, meter-level data if need be.

Though Chen says the cloud-based Wegowise platform could connect to large-scale building management systems for the commercial and industrial buildings market, as well collect near real-time utility data based on access to smart grid technologies, the company didn't want build something that relied on specialized hardware or metering configurations. "This is where the market is now" for small commercial building analytics, said Chen.

Currently, the company's platform has 10,000 buildings in its database, which comprise about 150,000 housing units and represent 140 million square feet.

This week, the company announced a partnership with U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED for Homes projects offering complimentary yearlong access to its WegoPro platform. The online platform will help developers minimize operating costs for 23,000 certified LEED for Homes residential units.

"WegoWise's solution for benchmarking and measuring building performance is fundamental to the success of our program" said Courtney Baker, Residential Operations Manager at USGBC in a statement. "Homeowners and developers who invest in LEED for Home certification have a powerful energy efficiency foundation, but need a reliable tool to track the long-term performance of their properties."

In addition to multi-tenant apartment building owners, the company has found energy auditors to be a significant customer base, who appreciate the streamlined access to determine building energy performance.

Also, Chen says many utilities find the platform useful when developing energy efficiency programs for demand-side management. With a clear and transparent view of inefficient buildings, utilities can be far more effective in targeting specific customers to find ways to reduce energy and water consumption.