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Retroficiency raises $3.3 million for software that helps building owners hone in on opportunities for energy savings

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 30, 2011 08:39 AM

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You can already use the Internet today to punch in a few details about your car and find out its resale value, without having to drive it to a used car dealership to get it eye-balled.

Retroficiency believes it ought to be just as easy to evaluate an office building for energy savings opportunities. Just key in some data about the building's age, size, location, hours it's occupied, and the electrical bill, and Retroficiency's software consults a vast database to help prioritize which energy efficiency steps might help the owner or facilities manager save money — like upgrading the insulation or installing LED lighting.

The company is announcing today that it has raised $3.3 million from Point Judith Capital and local angel investor, including Jill Preotle and Jean Hammond.

Bennett Fisher launched the company with co-founder Bryan Long in 2009, shortly after the duo graduated from MIT's Sloan School of Management. (Fisher had been a commercial real estate investor before heading to b-school.)

"When you look at reducing the carbon footprint in the United States, there's a huge bottleneck right now, and that is the way we assess buildings for energy efficiency opportunities," Fisher says. "The best estimates say that there are ways that building owners could save about $400 billion, but the way we assess buildings today is that we send people in to count lightbulbs and look at HVAC units. That can cost tens of thousands of dollars per facility." Retroficiency's Web-based software looks at information from tens of thousands of previous energy audits (walk-throughs done by specialized professionals) to perform a kind of pattern recognition, identifying things that a building being evaluated with the software is likely to share with those that have been audited by humans.

Fisher says the software can be useful to companies that own a portfolio of buildings; facilities management firms; and utilities. "The software does two things: it helps them prioritize which buildings to hone in on, and it evaluates thousands of energy efficiency measures within minutes to tell them which ones will have the best payback," he says.

As part of today's announcement, Retroficiency is filling out its executive team, and also acquiring the energy efficiency division of North Andover-based Nexamp, which is primarily a developer of solar power projects.

Retroficiency's software has been used to evaluate about 1.5 million square feet of space in the Boston area, and more than 30 million square feet in total.

A screen shot from Retroficiency's software dashboard is below:

retro_home_img_large.jpg

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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