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September 26, 2013

Surveys 2013: Optimum Energy

Specialty: Energy optimization for HVAC systems in multi-site enterprises, central utility plants, large buildings and data centers

Management: Matthew Frey, president and CEO; Ben Erpelding, chief technical officer; Bert Hogue, chief financial officer; Marty Hess, vice president for business development and marketing

Founded: 2005

Headquarters: Seattle

2013 revenues: N/A

Projected 2014 revenues: N/A

Current projects: HVAC system optimization for Columbia University, the University of Texas, a number of Fortune 500 firms and large government organizations throughout the U.S.

Jonathan Shaw, senior marketing manager for Optimum Energy, responded to questions about the company and its work.

Q: How quickly is the market for your services growing?

A: The energy management market is growing and fragmenting very rapidly — there are more than 400 firms today that offer building energy management services (BEMS).

If you’re an energy manager, this presents an overwhelming array of options to choose from. However, very few BEMS providers take our approach and manage building systems directly. The vast majority provide dashboards and leave the actual systems management to the customer.

Our approach is more difficult and it requires specialized engineering expertise, but it results in significantly greater savings for the customer over time.

Q: How far along are your clients in their energy-saving efforts when you first meet them?

A: A very positive development that we’ve seen in the past few years is the growing significance of the energy manager role within large organizations.

Large companies and organizations are realizing that energy management isn’t an afterthought; it needs the ongoing attention of a dedicated resource. Our customers generally have these resources in place, and they’re beginning to evaluate options for improving energy efficiency and running pilot tests.

Q: Describe your consulting process.

A: We start with an evaluation of relevant mechanical systems and we provide an initial assessment of how much energy, water and carbon emissions can be saved with our solution. We also provide a cash-flow analysis and budgetary scope of work, so that the customer can decide if this is the right investment for them.

From there, we conduct a more detailed analysis that allows us to produce a baseline and an accurate, quantifiable energy-efficiency model for the optimized end state, and we discuss this information with the customer.

Q: What’s the most exciting innovation you’ve recently come across?

A: We’re excited about all the innovation happening right now in the industrial Internet, which is where you’re seeing mechanical systems, cloud software and big data converge.

We’ve been pioneers in this space for several years, offering a data-driven solution that continuously optimizes the energy consumption of entire multi-site cooling systems. Over that time, we’ve collected a lot of operating data on mechanical systems, and we’re currently working with data scientists who are using this information to conduct complex statistical analysis.

What we’re finding is that these efforts are yielding promising incremental gains in energy efficiency.

Q: What are a few of the hurdles you face in your industry?

A: What we’re offering is a cutting-edge approach to energy efficiency, and it’s not yet really well understood in the market.

We’re seeing this change as the idea of the industrial Internet gains popularity. But we still need to do a lot of educating as we talk with potential customers and partners.

Our customers all want to improve energy efficiency in their facilities, but they’re faced with several different options for doing this. Additionally, energy-efficiency projects in multi-site environments often get slowed down by a disconnect between corporate headquarters and local facility teams.

We’ve developed a service delivery model that bridges the gap between these two sides, and our customers have told us that it works remarkably well in ensuring project success.

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