• 10.01.12

It’s Time For Your Drive-By Energy Audit

An ambitious company is attempting to use thermal cameras attached to cars to capture images of how every building in America is wasting energy.

It’s the Google Maps for home efficiency. At the rate of two to three million buildings per month, energy monitoring startup Essess is prowling the streets of America snapping images of inefficient windows, wasted heat, and other energy sucks to build an “ecosystem” around saving energy.


The Massachusetts-based startup, reports CNN, has deployed five cars with thermal cameras grabbing billions of images each month. These snapshots visualize the heat emanating from residential and commercial properties (much of it needlessly wasted) and build a database that will eventually enable “an energy efficiency marketplace,” reports the company. This giant database is eventually slated to cover most of the U.S.’s 125 million properties (the company say it will have covered 10% by the end of 2012).

“We can capture and zero-in on energy use for buildings down to individual windows and help building owners increase efficiency and reduce costs,” said Essess CEO Storm Duncan to GreenBiz. The site also reports Essess is just one in a new wave of remote monitoring energy audit startups such as Retroficiency for automated audits and First Fuel, which reveals energy consumption by analyzing energy bills.

At the moment, Essess is targeting cities in northern California (San Francisco, Sacramento, Palo Alto and Marin County) as well as parts of Chicago, Boston, and New York City. It’s not exactly clear yet what the final product will look like, but the company says it will merge its collected data with “publicly available data and…. a platform for the collection of other data for a centralized database.”

About the author

Michael is a science journalist and co-founder of Publet: a platform to build digital publications that work on every device with analytics that drive the bottom line. He writes for FastCompany, The Economist, Foreign Policy and others on science, economics, and the environment.