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Energy Management Software Gets a Boost from Retailers, Government

<p>New research from Verdantix also finds eight categories of energy management software on the market, which can make integration a headache.</p>

When federal climate change legislation failed in the U.S., many companies began to focus more on managing their energy use, which for some firms is the fastest growing expense behind health care.

That focus translated into greater demand for software aimed at helping organizations track and manage energy consumption. As a result, many carbon software vendors began tweaking their products to emphasize energy management, even leading one company -- Carbonetworks -- to rebrand itself ENXSuite in a nod to its broader focus on energy and sustainability.

Leading the charge toward energy management software are companies in the retail, government and education, technology and real estate sectors, according to Verdantix, an independent analyst firm that released its "Buyers' Guide to Energy Management Software" yesterday.

Verdantix found that nearly two-thirds of energy management software buyers are energy directors, followed by facilities directors (53 percent) and those who assume the title of chief sustainability officers or vice president of sustainability (44 percent).

These buyers have a deep bench of options to choose from, Verdantix found -- maybe too deep. The company identified eight categories of energy management software on the market:

• Commercial building energy management software
• Enterprise energy management software
• Energy purchasing, billing and reporting software
• Facility energy modelling and certification software
• Manufacturing facility energy management software
• Demand response software
• ICT infrastructure software
• Power PC management software

Part of the reason there are so many different types available is because of the diverse base of energy-sucking equipment used by companies, according to Peter Charville-Mort, a Verdantix industry analyst and lead author of the report.

Systems such as servers, HVAC and lighting "means no single application will collect the data from all energy consuming end points," he said in a statement. "So the boom in energy management software -- with 38 new applications launched since January 2009 -- risks hitting the buffers unless buyers plan for a big integration project."

One last interesting factoid from the research: Some 64 percent of energy management software suppliers now offer their own "wrap-around" energy services. Another 12 percent partners with third-parties to offer services such as data collection, processing, analysis and energy procurement.

These kinds of services make it easier for companies to move on energy management and reduction goals, which may sometimes be an easier sell internally than carbon reduction initiatives. It seems more companies are setting energy targets, including the likes of Clorox, Owens Corning and Kimberly-Clark, according to GreenBiz Senior Contributor Paul Baier. The companies with the best energy management programs share a few common traits, such as using software to get real-time data into the hands of decision-makers. Unfortunately, many CFOs still aren't on board with energy management, effectively leaving untold dollars sitting on the table.

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