Energy Tech Talk

Let’s Talk Energy with... David Helliwell, Pulse Energy

According to David Helliwell, CEO of Vancouver’s Pulse Energy, sometimes a small step forward is the most important one to take. He explains how his company’s innovative software gives businesses across Canada a simple way to effectively manage their energy consumption.

Most businesses are in favour of reducing their energy consumption. What keeps them from doing so is the worry that it will be complicated or expensive—or both.

Our idea was to help organizations take a small, simple step toward becoming more energy efficient. That led us to develop what we call ‘energy intelligence software’. Our web-based solutions constantly analyze how different types of businesses use energy and suggest ways business owners and property managers can improve their energy efficiency.

For just tens of dollars per year, our software can reduce a building’s energy consumption by one or two percent—and lay the foundation for bigger savings down the road through retrofits and other energy-saving initiatives.

How it works

Our solution is designed for commercial buildings and institutional facilities like hospitals and universities. Imagine you manage a campus of buildings that use various electric, natural gas and steam-powered systems. Logging into the Pulse Energy Manager gives you a real-time analysis of energy consumption across all your buildings, making it easy to track each building’s energy productivity and see the financial impact their energy consumption is having.

The software is highly graphical, so the information is easy to interpret. You can see both current usage as well as projected consumption. It even takes factors like building occupancy and local weather forecasts into account.

We’ve also developed an application for smaller companies. The Pulse Check online portal offers business owners a simple, personalized breakdown of their energy bill. It shows them how their energy usage stacks up to others in their industry while providing easy-to-implement retrofit suggestions tailored to their business. And it can even help them build energy efficiency action plans and track spending relative to their budget.

Measurable impact

The first 70 of some 400 customers to sign up for our service through BC Hydro are already saving a combined $3 million in energy costs each year. But beyond that, our software is helping companies reduce the burden on the energy grid because they don’t need as much power. With natural gas, it’s easy to predict the correlation between usage and greenhouse gas emissions: as you use less energy, you create fewer emissions. With electricity, the impact of using less energy depends on how it’s generated. In areas that rely on coal for their electricity, decreased demand could cut emissions by thousands of tonnes each year.

Because everything is in the cloud, all that’s needed to use our software is access to the Internet. And because we get all of our data from utility providers’ metering systems, there’s no special monitoring equipment that needs to be installed in our customers’ buildings. We supplement the utilities’ data with our own data specific to each customer—building type and size, business type, location—and then drive the analytics from there.

With the scalability of our platform, it’s totally conceivable that every commercial building in the world could one day be running Pulse software—and for that software to be running out of a small office in Vancouver. But we first need utilities to adopt the software so they can give it to their customers. I wish every business knew that it’s possible to access Pulse through their utilities—and with it a much easier pathway to saving energy and money.

What’s ahead

In 2012, Pulse Energy was named to the Deloitte Technology Green 15, a list of the top Canadian companies creating breakthroughs in green technology. Our next goal is to have our software deployed by more than a million buildings worldwide. As it stands now, three of the top five utilities in the U.S. are using Pulse software—so we’re well on our way.

With just a light touch, we can help millions of building owners around the world take an important first step toward energy efficiency.

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