March 2010

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Tim KensokEMAIL INTERVIEW - Tim Kensok & Ken Sinclair

Tim Kensok, Vice President Market Development, AirAdvice, Inc,

Tim Kensok is the Vice President of Market Development for AirAdvice, Inc, a Portland, Oregon-based provider of building performance diagnostic equipment and services. His expertise in this field focuses on HVAC markets and systems, sustainability, and indoor environmental controls. He has conducted extensive research into the performance of commercial buildings and the entire value chain from manufacturers through building owners to tenants. At present, his work is focused on developing improved processes and building new channels for delivering energy services to the market.


Following the release of a recent software upgrade to BuildingAdvice, an energy services delivery platform which identifies energy savings opportunities in existing commercial buildings, Automated Buildings spoke to Tim Kensok, Vice President of Market Development for BuildingAdvice’s developer, AirAdvice. Here’s what Tim had to say about how software and web-based technology figures into BuildingAdvice.

Energy Diagnostic Technology

We provide a platform for the delivery of energy services that uses web-based software and wireless sensing and communications technology to automate the process of providing building energy assessments and identifying cost savings through energy efficiency.

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Sinclair:  For our readers that may not be familiar with AirAdvice and its products, can you give a quick overview?

Kensok:  AirAdvice is a provider of energy diagnostic technology and programs that enable service providers to improve the energy efficiency and mechanical systems operations in commercial buildings. Through BuildingAdvice, our program for commercial markets, we provide a platform for the delivery of energy services that uses web-based software and wireless sensing and communications technology to automate the process of providing building energy assessments and identifying cost savings through energy efficiency.

Our approach is unique in that we are focused on developing new channels of service providers to reach markets that to date, have been greatly underserved. Through automation we can lower the cost of energy services to now access small and medium sized existing commercial buildings under 200,000 square feet that are not currently reached by traditional ESCOs delivering the engineering-intensive, Energy Saving Performance Contracts (ESPCs) typically seen in the institutional market. Of the 4.6 million commercial buildings in the U.S., 99% are less than 200,000 square feet and consume about 75% of the total energy used. That is our primary market of interest. We want to enable a low cost / high volume model of energy services and start new conversations about energy efficiency between contractors / engineers and their clients to provide energy services in buildings previously inaccessible due to the high cost of delivery.

Sinclair:  How does BuildingAdvice utilize software and web-based applications in its energy services offering?

Kensok:  The BuildingAdvice model uses three building blocks: data collection, analysis, and reporting. Leveraging software and web-based automation within each of these building blocks across all of the products in the platform provides our clients with the ability to take customers through a simple process to attack energy waste in buildings, from engaging customers in initial conversations about their energy use, to generating high quality recommendations and action based reports which can be used as a catalyst to move projects forward. We also provide on-going, continuous energy monitoring and verification to quantify savings and provide for continuous improvement. Our goal from the beginning was to make a family of products that would be very low in labor intensity for our clients, and very high impact for the end-user.

Sinclair:  Let’s take a closer look at the data collection piece. How does web based software figure in?

Kensok:  Data collection takes multiple forms in the BuildingAdvice product model. One is raw sensor data collected by monitors placed in buildings and wirelessly transmitted to our data center through ZigBee and cellular communications. Another is the integration of our building information with direct access to real-time, hourly weather data provided through a web interface to a weather service. Third, we provide integration to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR software to automatically upload utility and building data from their Portfolio Manager software and transmit energy benchmarking data back to our software to use in the generation of an Energy Benchmark™ report. The automation of these Energy Benchmark reports represents the core of a recent software release.

Sinclair:  What about data analysis?

On the data analysis side, web services offer significant advantages. Customers immediately have access to up-to-the-minute software upgrades as new analysis capabilities are released. Additionally, as our data analysis integrates with existing information in the ENERGY STAR database, we now accumulate a building’s history and eliminate the need for multiple manual data entry.

A web service model also allows data to be accessible by multiple users. This allows for a model where a salesperson may be responsible for collecting a set of initial data, after which an energy engineer make take over to complete the more complex analysis tasks.

Sinclair:  That leaves reporting - how does web based application play in?

Kensok:  The report – whether it’s an Energy Benchmark report or an Energy Savings Audit report – is the ultimate deliverable for the service provider to the end customer. We believe a web-based service model is the ideal way to deliver our energy reports. By integrating automated reporting with the data collection and analysis, the time that is required to generate reports is reduced significantly. The history of all projects is maintained on the account website, accessible to those in the service provider’s organization as well as the technical support resources on our end. This greatly simplifies collaboration on report interpretation, proposed energy conservation measures, or sales techniques.

Sinclair:  Are there ongoing services you provide which utilize software and web-based delivery systems?

Kensok:  In addition to our Energy Benchmarking and assessment and audit capabilities, we also provide for ongoing energy monitoring through a web services model. By tying a communication gateway in an on-site, permanent installation to transmit high-resolution electric or gas consumption data, we’re able to process that information through web service analytics to deliver a daily dashboard report on building performance with respect to a previously established baseline. This provides a platform by which savings from implemented energy conservation measures can be accurately measured, as well as provide for a method of continuous improvement by closely monitoring the operations of the mechanical and electrical systems in the building.

Control Solutions, Inc Sinclair:  Why do you think BuildingAdvice has been so successful with contractors?

Kensok:  One, it’s a simple way to differentiate their service offering in a way that is very meaningful to their customers right now – reducing operating costs.

Two, we’ve packaged the program in a way that makes it easy to implement. We consult with their senior management to establish goals for the program. We provide training for both their sales and technical teams. We provide marketing materials to help them promote their new offering.

Finally, we provide ongoing support, not only from a technical perspective, but also from a sales perspective to ensure the program is being effectively implemented and that progress is being made toward the goals established.

Sinclair:  Could you have BuildingAdvice without web-based software, and how do you see the product evolving in the future?

Kensok:  Software-driven innovation is definitely the reason behind and future of AirAdvice’s success. The BuildingAdvice platform is all about computers talking to each other, and the ability for data to be passed forward, analyzed, and presented with ease and accuracy.

I often say, what’s unique about the energy efficiency space is that you will meet people with very disparate motivations along the same road to the same place. Whether its software innovation, web-based technology or climate change acting as the driver, we all are trying to reduce energy consumption. I think the growing demand for energy in the face of today’s environmental concerns is the perfect inspiration to continue to innovate web-based technology.

For more information about energy services and the BuildingAdvice program, visit www.airadvice.com/commercial or go to http://www.airadvice.com/newbenchmark for information on the latest software upgrade.

To view a PDF sample of an Energy Bench Mark Report.

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