cleantech insights

The Data-Driven Transformation of the Energy Efficiency Sector

Timothy Leong

The Internet of Things, characterized by technology platforms that enable interconnection of devices, has empowered companies to design innovative technologies, especially in the Energy Efficiency sector. Companies are embracing connectivity in product design, ranging from sensors to device communication to data analytics. As a result, we have seen increasing investments in software-based companies that are reshaping traditional energy efficiency products. Examples include Jasper, Nest, and Enlighted, which have garnered interest from many investment firms, news outlets, and social media. These companies are capable of transforming the Energy Efficiency sector through enabling cross communication technologies between devices.

Nest_logoNest, one of the leaders in the Smart Home subsector, has developed an interactive thermostat that learns and adapts to users’ behaviors. The Nest Thermostat interacts with its environment – it gathers readings on external climate, time of day, and movement in the house. Through sensor-driven analytics and behavioral data, Nest automatically adjusts the HVAC system, which allows for seamless automated energy savings. This autonomy is how data is redefining the energy efficiency landscape – providing cost savings through data analytics, all without any effort from the user.

enlighted_dataEnlighted, another innovator within the Smart Building subsector, has developed …


An Update on the Energy Efficiency Sector

David Medoff

Last year, the global Energy Efficiency sector completed more deals than any of its peer industries, according to Cleantech Group’s i3 platform. The past quarter saw sustained momentum within the sector, so much so that Energy Efficiency led all other industries in total accrued investments, receiving over $520 million, or 18% of all Q1 cleantech fundraising. By all accounts, efficiency software and hardware providers are doing well.

That said, can we really call this news? For the past decade, Energy Efficiency has consistently been at the vanguard of cleantech fundraising, second only to Solar. Moreover, the former has been far more consistent in its fundraising ability than Solar, an industry known for its highs and lows.

So while healthy numbers may be old news for the sector, sub-sector capital allocation is always changing. Energy Efficiency covers a wide swathe of subsectors, from Smart Glass to Efficient HVAC to Cleanweb and so on.  Thus, the most recent data enjoin us to ask where, specifically, are the most recent windfalls landing?

View designs and manufactures intelligent glasses that electronically tint in response to sunlight, and in doing so, mitigates reliance on HVAC systems; the company claims energy reductions in …

The Last Frontier of the IT Revolution: A Chat with Ecofective CEO Mats Pettersson

M Paschich


[UPDATE: Ecofective was ranked 1st in the Energy Efficiency category (and 3rd overall) in the 2014 Nordic Cleantech Open]

One of our sessions during the Cleantech Forum Europe that will be held in Stockholm (May 19-21) is titled The Entrepreneurs Track. Building Innovations Meet Their Target Purchasers: Where the Rubber Truly Hits the Road. In this session, selected building technology companies developing solutions for the buildings industry deliver their “customer pitch” and discuss their products with a group of targeted corporate buyers from the real estate and building industries. Mats Pettersson, CEO of Ecofective, is participating in this session at the Forum. In this related interview, Mats talks about the last frontier of the IT revolution…

What is Ecofective’s genesis story, how did this company come to be?

Ecofective started off as a consultancy with one customer – Wallenstam. Wallenstam is a multi-tenant building owner with around 150 large residential properties here in Sweden. The original project was to develop technology to help these buildings to be more energy efficient, with particular attention on heating systems, since we have long and cold winters here. Ecofective used a thermodynamic optimization research technology, developed for at the Royal Technical Institute in …

Opower’s growth: an interview w/ SVP @roderickmorris

M Paschich


On May 21-22, Opower and Cleantech Group are co-hosting the New Utility Business Model Summit. It’s no question that the utility industry is increasingly shaped by higher customer expectations, expanding deployment of distributed energy generation, and ambitious energy efficiency goals. In the lead up to this summit, we’re interviewing key policy makers, regulators, and influencers on the topic of what the evolving utility industry will look like, and the opportunities that this evolution will create for utilities to develop deeper and more profitable relationships with their customers.


Congratulations on a successful IPO! What does this mean for the future of Opower and your utility customers?

Friday [April 4th, 2014] was definitely an exciting day: it was great to celebrate it with so many other early Opower employees who have worked so hard together to grow this business over the past several years. With that shared experience, we could all appreciate how this new funding validates the work we’ve been doing, and there’s real excitement knowing that we’ll now have even more opportunity to make investments that help people use less energy. We’ll do this through the four core business lines served by our platform, which are …

Gnest: $3.2 Billion!

Sheeraz Haji

Woa!!! Monday’s announcement of Google’s acquisition of Nest represents not only a key inflection point for cleantech, but also speaks volumes on the increasing importance of customers. The $3.2 billion deal marks a significant milestone for the home automation company; one that many believed the cleantech market couldn’t produce.

Here at Cleantech Group, we believe that the cleantech market is essential, massive, vibrant, and desired. Based on data tracked in i3 (such as investment round amounts and participating investors), insider-sourced information reported publicly about various investor returns, and standard venture-round ownership stakes, it looks like Google’s acquisition of Nest represents a 24x multiple on paid-in capital. Our i3 business is about collecting the best data possible and helping corporate teams and venture investors connect with innovation: the fact that a member of the highest level of management at Nest owns and contributes content to Nest’s i3 profile has been truly motivating to my team working day and night on the i3 platform.


So what can we learn from Nest? Our upcoming Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2014 will discuss just that. Last year, Nest keynoted at the Forum (and went on to win North American Company of the Year at …

#techbuild: Buildings+Users Getting Smarter – San Francisco DOE

Natalie Volpe

On January 21-22, Cleantech Group is hosting — in San Francisco — the “Buildings Get a Brain” senior executive summit on the future of intelligent commercial buildings. In the lead up to the summit, Cleantech Group is chatting with leaders across the commercial real estate space to learn more about what the rise of building innovation means for start-ups, corporates, investors, buildings, and tenants. Click here to learn more about Buildings Get a Brain and request an invite.

Rich Chien, Sr. Environmental Specialist, SF DOE

What has the Department of the Environment been doing to address the issue of commercial building efficiency?

The city has goals to reduce our community wide greenhouse gas emissions 25% below by 1990 by 2017, and 80% below 1990 by 2050. 53 percent of our emissions come from the building sector, and a great majority of that from existing buildings. So this is a very important sector for us. For the past eight years, we’ve been managing an energy efficiency incentive program called SF Energy Watch, which is a partnership with PG&E; it currently has a budget of about $7 million a year for rebates, technical assistance, and quality assurance and has …

Data Center Innovation = Clean + Cost-Effective + Reliable

Sheeraz Haji

We are currently seeing a wave of new ideas in data centers, throwing the traditional model of data center management in the air. The ever accelerating demand for processing and data storage capacity globally, is coming together with environmental demands to create an area ripe for innovation.

This led to lively discussion last week at our Data Centers Power Breakfast, in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Participants – including tech companies, start-ups and investors – proved data centers can reposition themselves as sustainability leaders and pointed to opportunities for even greater innovation through energy efficiency and greening the energy supply.

We were particularly interested in what was driving innovation in the data center sector. There was a simple mantra from the panelists throughout the conversation: solutions needed to be clean, cost-effective and reliable to gain market traction.

We know that over the last decade or so, environmental stewardship has become a C-Suite goal, leading companies to set challenging but attainable clean goals. Even for companies for whom sustainability is not a central characteristic of the product or service, customers, particularly Millennials, are holding them more accountable on environmental metrics.

To attain these goals, …

The Week in Cleantech: Oct. 28 – Nov. 3


A note to regular readers of this blog – this will be our final “The Week in Cleantech” post. Beginning next week, in an effort to bring you more focused content on specific clean technology sectors, we’ll begin posting highlights of specific deals and why they matter in relation to a broader sector. Now, let’s look at some highlights from last week:

eRecycling CorpsPerhaps influenced by the successful exit of ecoATM in July by investors including Claremont Creek Ventures and Tao Venture Capital Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Silver Lake Kraftwerk last week pumped $105 million in Series C growth capital into eRecyclingCorps, a company similarly pursuing incentivized recycling of personal electronics. Instead of setting up a network of kiosks, however, eRecyclingCorps builds trade-in programs in partnership with the all largest mobile phone carriers. Founded in 2009, the company, which also counts SJF Ventures and NGEN Partners as investors, has said it intends to use the funds to support potential acquisitions, geographic expansion and new products and services.

Harvest AutomationThe Agriculture sector again proved to be on the minds of venture investors last week as Harvest Automation, a Massachusetts-based developer of robotic technology for agricultural applications, raised …

The Week in Cleantech: Oct. 21 – 27


StemThe i3 Platform tracked exciting news from across cleantech sectors last week. Stem, a company marketing battery energy storage systems designed to enable commercial utility customers to better manage their energy use and avoid peak rates, announced a financing partnership with Clean Fleet Investors. Through the program, which has an initial sum of $5 million to work with, Stem will begin offering its battery energy management systems at no or low up-front cost, much the way residential solar companies have spurred higher demand through lease and power purchase agreements.

AutomaticIn another interesting partnership, Automatic, a provider of vehicle monitoring solutions designed to help drivers become more fuel-efficient, got a boost from Apple, which said it would begin offering Automatic’s product in its stores.

Meridian EnergyIn New Zealand, renewable energy generation company Meridian Energy announced its intent to conduct an initial public offering worth $1.7 billion. At that size, the offering would be the New Zealand exchange’s largest ever. While the majority of the company’s generation portfolio comes from traditional hydro-electric plants, which provide more predictable baseload power, it also operates almost 400 MW of wind power.

277-1_logo_v1Several companies raised venture funding during the week. WiTricity, a company …

The Week in Cleantech: Sept. 30 – Oct. 4


Monsanto announced last week that it would acquire The Climate Corporation in a deal valued at between $930 million and $1.1 billion. The Climate Corp had raised around $110 million from investors including New Enterprise Associates, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and Google Ventures.

The week also saw some heightened venture activity, perhaps influenced by the close of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth. Two big deals stood out in the vehicle telematics space:

Telogis, a California-based fleet management solutions provider founded in 2001, raised $93 million in growth capital from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to help it deepen its location-based services platform as it readies for an IPO, possibly next year. And inthinc, a Utah-based player in the fleet management space, raised $24 million from K1 Capital Advisors.

Two other top deals during the week came from the Energy Efficiency space. LED company EcoSense Lighting raised $15 million from Bain Capital and new investor Flagship Ventures, while Sefaira, a developer of cloud-based efficiency software for building architects, raised $9.2 million – $7.2 million in equity from Braemar Energy Ventures, Chrysalix SET, and Hermes GPE, and $2 …