Who will control buildings and homes in the future?
It's one of the biggest battles in green technology right now.
Multinational giants like Honeywell (NYSEL HON), Johnson Controls
IT behemoths like Cisco
Utilities and power providers might too, even though it brings up conflict of interest issues. Constellation Energy just bought CPower.
Meanwhile, start-ups like and Redwood Systems and Adura Technologies say they will play an important role because they add lights to these networks. Most traditional building systems only focus on controlling the thermostat. (Redwood further adds that it will, over time, add things like motion and carbon dioxide sensors to its network and swap out copper wire with Ethernet cable for further savings.)
And datacenter management companies like SynapSense argue that they their tools will migrate from the server room to the office building.
You can add demand response companies to the mix too, says R. Blake Young, CEO of demand response provider Comverge
Comverge calls this "intelligent energy management." The company will discuss it at GridWeek taking place in Washington D.C. this week.
"The smart grid is never going to be finished," he said. "The increasing level of sophistication will require solutions that serve that sense of sophistication."
In fact, demand response players have a number of advantages. The ultimate goal of these building management systems, after all, is to allow facilities managers to link their operations to time-of-use pricing signals and other information coming from utilities.
"We have over five million devices deployed on the grid," he said. Companies in many of these other fields "cannot offer the scope and breadth of services, hardware and software."
Demand respon... whoops, demand management companies are also familiar with operating in a regulated environment and with utilities, some of the most conservative businesses on the planet.
"Regulators are going to hold utilities accountable for reliability and supply," he said. "They aren't going to disaggregate it to nascent players in the market."
In other words, a track record will help land deals. Comverge started in 1997. It has mostly concentrated on services connected to controlling energy in homes and small offices but is moving into new markets. (Technically speaking, Comverge sells its services to utilities but serves consumers.)
Are acquisitions in its future? Rival EnerNoc
It's an interesting debate. Comverge has a white paper on intelligent energy management on its site. If you hear much about these concepts at GridWeek, let us know.
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