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This week, GigaOm reported that startup Gridco has created new grid-level power electronics and a smart management system which will help provide electricity to homes and buildings. The systems will give utilities the ability to “tightly control” the grid’s power flow and to retrieve energy use data. What’s even better is that the system can help utilities integrate solar and wind farms into the grid, addressing existing intermittency issues. Of course, Gridco is not the only company going down this path, and as the piece notes several startups are harnessing computing algorithms to find ways to increase grid and building efficiency.
Another piece in Greentech Media this week looked at how this month’s Polar Vortex that swept across the country offered some insights on just how inefficient many buildings are. Panoramic Power compiled energy-use data created during the storm, and found unusually high levels of energy consumption in thousands of commercial buildings, especially during off-hour business times. This was largely due to incorrect temperature settings and sometimes system failures. Yaniv Vardi, CEO of Panoramic Power and author of the piece, noted that the inefficiency was ultimately causing financial losses for many of these businesses. While extreme weather spells such as the Polar Vortex are usually short-term, Vardi emphasizes that companies need to see energy management as a “strategic asset” to their business so they can more consistently control their energy use in the future. Here at Microsoft, we agree that there is a high potential for advancing building efficiency, which is why we created our energy-smart building program and have made smart buildings a pillar of our approach to sustainability.