Adura: Is Wireless Lighting the Way Into Energy Management?

ADURAlightingfixture Jack Bolick has only been the CEO of Adura Technologies, a wireless lighting management startup in downtown San Francisco, for a couple weeks. But in an interview with us this week, it was clear he already has the company’s ambitious plans down pat: to install 100 million square feet of its wireless management systems by 2014.

Yeah, it’s an audacious goal for a 4-year-old firm with some 22 employees and just $5 million in Series A funding from VantagePoint Venture Partners and Claremont Creek Ventures. And Bolick, who retired from leading the process solutions division at Honeywell in January, is still learning the ropes.

So what’s the source of all this confidence? Adura says it will use wireless lighting technology to begin tackling the massive market for managing energy in commercial buildings. More specifically, Adura thinks its wireless mesh-based networks and lighting control modules are among the lowest costing and easiest-to-install options out there and that in a down economy, helping building owners save 30-50 percent on their energy bills will be a booming business.

Using standard Zigbee-based wireless nodes, Adura can set up a wireless lighting management network in a commercial building in a short time at a much lower cost than that of a hardwired building management system. Bolick said that with federal credits the lighting management system can pay for itself in less than two years. Founders Charlie Huizenga (the tech developer), Zach Gentry, and Josh Mooney formed the company based on work done at UC Berkeley. The idea was to take low-cost, standardized wireless mesh technology, add in smart algorithms to manage the information and piece it together into an easy-to-read energy dashboard for commercial building owners. Using a web tool, a building owner can control the lighting and thus see their energy bills be dramatically cut.

ADURAdashboard

The team plans to launch the next generation of the LightPoint System, which can scale out to a much larger size, at a lighting conference in Santa Clara, Calif., in September. But the end goal is to add in energy management tools beyond lighting, including those for monitoring HVAC systems and plug loads. That will come in LightPoint 2.0, which could be released as early as 2010.

Ultimately wireless lighting control is Adura’s way into the larger energy building management space. As Bolick explained to us, not many building owners care about installing a wireless mesh network simply for the whiz-bang of the wireless mesh. But being able to easily cut energy costs by controlling lighting is an idea that even less tech-friendly firms will get. Once the wireless mesh network is in place, why wouldn’t a building owner see the benefit of adding on low-cost control capability to its other power-hog systems?

Well, that’s the plan. Adura’s systems have been installed at UC Berkeley, Webcor, Heath Corp. of America and Alameda County, but only in pilot mode. That’s a far cry from 100 million square feet.

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