SaaS for Energy Management; Key Features to Look For
Because of growing pressure, both nationally and internationally, on businesses to become more sustainable, energy management is more important than ever. Agreements like COP21 (the Paris Agreement) and the Climate Coalition are helping to bring down emissions while forcing businesses to rethink their energy usage. With renewable and nonrenewable energy firmly in the spotlight, sustainability services like GHG emissions reporting and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking are a necessity if you want to keep up with competitors.
Energy sustainability reporting is no longer voluntary, either. By law, over 60,600 buildings with a combined 4.1 billion square feet are required by their city or state to report their energy data to EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. And it’s not just the government that is pushing for companies to be open about their sustainability efforts. Both employees and investors are demanding more transparency into energy data and sustainability practices. In fact, many institutional investors will not commit money to real estate owners that are not participating in voluntary GRESB reporting.
Rather than manage and report energy consumption by manually acquiring data and tracking in Excel, many companies, large and small, are turning to Software as a Service, or SaaS for energy management. But with a growing variety of services available, understanding the key features to look for is crucial for success.
Six key features to look for in SaaS for Energy Management
In the eyes of Diana Sweeney, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder of EnergyWatch, there are six key features to look for when deciding on a SaaS energy management tool.
- Intuitive platform – The vast majority of your organization will not be experts in energy management. But a large proportion will need to use the software at some point. Making sure that it is easy to use is key to ensuring your employees get the most value from it.
- Great reporting – Reporting is at the heart of SaaS for energy management. The system you choose needs to have advanced but easy-to-use reporting features. This should include automation and customization functionality.
- A managed service – A SaaS solution on its own is worthless to the vast majority of businesses. Expertise is needed to translate data into meaningful strategies. A solid SaaS solution should come with a managed service that allows data, acquisition, and auditing to be outsourced to highly trained analysts who can flag problems and communicate issues immediately. This is a core part of EnergyWatch’s service and we’ve been able to catch several significant billing errors, and then manage the resolution on the client’s behalf. “We’ve been responsible for a $3 million refund from an electric utility, a refund of over $750,000 in steam, and another refund of over $500,000 in natural gas,” explains Sweeney.
- Expertise in their field – You try to hire the best people and work with the best suppliers, so why should your SaaS provider be any different? Choosing a provider who is an expert in their field will go a long way to ensuring that your solution actually delivers value (such as reducing expenses, increasing asset value, simplifying reporting), rather than just entertainment value.
- Exceptional customer service – There will inevitably be teething issues when you implement a new piece of software. When issues occur or when you need help managing your account, you’re going to want to speak to someone who can help address your problems quickly.
- Integrated platform – Your chosen SaaS platform should be useful for every level of your organization, from C-suite down to engineers. With EnergyWatch, for instance, reporting can be customized for all user types so that every department has access to the facts and figures that they need.
For an exceptional energy management SaaS platform, look no further than EnergyWatch. EnergyWatch acts as your strategic energy supply and risk management partner by leveraging data and analytics within Watchwire. They work with enterprises to determine optimal contract term length for energy procurement, energy product mix, and contract terms and conditions (e.g. bandwidth, payment terms, assignment rights, etc.) in order to maximize retrofit/ECM performance and payback, optimize peak load management performance, and adhere to client risk profile.