Energy and Sustainability
Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of the NEST thermostat enterprise, (whose retail sales have only been approximately $2 million) is an indication of the monetary value of big data. The data, which describes how and when customers use energy, could soon become valuable information for utilities as they tackle a mountain of challenges such as falling costs of distributed energy resources (DER); development of new DER technologies; regulatory and political aspects of demand side management; government incentives for renewables; the declining prices of natural gas; a slowing economy and rising electricity prices.
One utility company which appears to have interest in what is happening behind the meter is the Texas utility NRG, led by the utility industry rebel, CEO David Crane. NRG is already developing a series of distributed energy generation products and services with a view to managing their customers’ energy supply at their homes and selling any excess to the grid. For this it will be helpful to have the consumer behaviour information.
What does this mean to real estate industry? Real estate professionals are the trusted advisors to their clients. They are also close to information about how the clients use energy and water. While the information industry and the utilities fight for dominance of big data related to utilities, we in the real estate industry can start analyzing our clients’ big data so as to provide them with the best advice on available options. To do so may require some adaptation of energy and sustainability benchmarking tools to collect and analyze real time data on a statistically significant sample of buildings. This approach is within reach.