We set out to address these challenges by providing two things:
- a rigorous and independent simulation engine for comparing and designing energy options
- a trusted clearinghouse for energy products and services
In doing so we think we can offer the information and coordination to drive the uptake of energy efficiency, solar and batteries and drive a transformation in how energy is used and generated in buildings.
We reviewed a broad suite of tools and found they fell into one of two categories.
On the one hand we reviewed a suite of simple statistical tools developed to provide consumers with advice on their energy bills. The strength of these tools is their relatively low cost and scalability, meaning they can reach a large number of households and businesses. However in the absence of a physical simulation basis, they are unable to provide targeted bankable advice, limiting their impact.
On the other end of the spectrum we reviewed several more sophisticated tools developed to simulate and optimise building performance. While these tools are capable of providing deep insights, they typically required extensive training to use and were time-consuming to specify. This meant that not many energy service professionals, builders, or architects used them and, if they did, the simulations were performed at the end of the design process, when most of the important decisions were already made.
We decided to break down this historical compromise between simplicity and sophistication through four key innovations:
- a novel building energy audit app leveraging the latest web and mobile technology to rapidly collect building and appliance data,
- a smart defaulting system driven by geospatial and statistical analytics to reduce the amount of data required from households and businesses,
- a building geometry system for generating 3D building models suitable for advanced simulations using aerial photography, machine vision and computational geometry algorithms, and
- a cloud-based simulation platform capable of performing hundreds of advanced building simulations simultaneously.
The result is a platform that can deliver deeper energy savings than offered by statistical analytics at a considerably reduced time and cost than conventional simulation-based audits.