A New Approach to Energy Analytics: Mathematica's Role in Powering Energy-Saving Solutions

Joseph Hirl, Founder, CEO, and CTO, Agilis Energy, LLC

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  • Enables rapid development with flexible programming language and integrated specialized functionality
  • Easily combines imported data with built-in computable data for rich analysis and visualization
  • Provides a variety of deployment options for delivering dynamic results
"We want to be the largest holder of building—commercial and industrial—data, and using Mathematica is the means by which to communicate, quantify, and deliver the ultimate product."

Challenge

Drawing on experience in engineering, risk management, and commercial real estate, Joseph Hirl, founder of Agilis Energy, set out to create a new service to help building owners reduce their energy consumption and expenses. To get a full understanding of the high-interval data he's drawing from utility smart meters installed at his clients' buildings, he needed a system that could not only handle extremely large amounts of data—one smart meter yields more than 35,000 data points a year—but also manipulate and visualize it. Entered Mathematica, and a new approach to energy analytics was born.

Solution

Using Mathematica and other Wolfram technologies, Hirl has developed a dynamic energy analysis application, which gives the full picture of a building's performance, measures the impact of potential operational changes, and quantifies the results. About Mathematica's role in the development of the tool and the Agilis business, he says, "The flexibility of Mathematica is tremendous. Our ability to build and develop this program with a lean staff has allowed us to build out a substantial business."

The Agilis tool begins with the data streams, including the imported smart meter data as well as Mathematica's built-in WeatherData, then applies sophisticated statistics and dynamic visualization functionality to generate what Hirl calls an "MRI of a building," a dynamic interface with a simulation of the building's energy use and demand and forecasting and benchmarking tools.

Benefits

Hirl says the rich visualization is key in communicating the analysis to his customers. "What they want to see is the picture, because then they can understand the peaks and valleys." From there, Hirl's team uses the application to drive effective operational changes. According to him, his clients are seeing a typical annual savings of 10–20%, and as high as 40%, without any capital investment.

The ability to deploy the Mathematica-based tool in various ways, including as CDF, has also allowed Agilis Energy to expand its client base at a rapid rate. In three years, the system has been used around the world at more than 800 sites in at least 12 different industries.


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