A Google Street View model for building energy

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A startup called essess is building a Google Street View-style business around building energy consumption. As essess CEO Storm Duncan explained it at the Wall Street Journal’s Eco:nomics conference on Thursday, essess places multi-spectral thermal cameras on top of cars and drives them around creating a database of the visible energy leaks coming from the buildings.

The startup then has algorithms that can crunch all that energy leakage image data and turn it into useful information for building owners, and esses plans to work with building owners to deliver energy efficiency reports and a software as a service product. In addition, the thermal data will enable essess to create an efficiency metric for each building — which it’s comparing to an MPG for cars — and Duncan says he wants to put an MPG on every building in the country. “It’s similar to what Zillow did for the real estate market,” said Duncan.

While essess’ plans are lofty, using data to create ecosystems around building energy efficiency is a new trend. This week Honest Buildings opened up its site which aggregates building and energy info from sources like building owners, green building technology service providers and public databases to create a site that is supposed to create both transparency and an ecosystem around green building technology. Honest Buildings will also be selling a premium, subscription service, which will enable green building service providers to engage with building owners.

Another site focused on aggregating building energy data online is NYC BLDGS, which is a web data base of the energy consumption of buildings in New York and pits the best and worst buildings against each other in friendly competition. That project detailed its plans at the 2nd Cleanweb Hackathon in New York in January. Big data meets the world’s buildings.


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