May 31, 2024

EMPEQ works to speed up energy audits and encourage retrofits


Ithaca energy startup EMPEQ is working to speed up energy audits, which will lead to more building retrofits and help the nation meet its 2050 climate goals. Pictured, the company’s COO, Derek LaClair, conducts a building audit. (Photo courtesy of EMPEQ)

ITHACA — After years of conducting energy efficiency audits — checking buildings for drafty windows and outdated heating and cooling equipment — the founders of EMPEQ felt there had to be a better way than the inefficient pen-and-paper method most auditors use to take notes.

If there wasn’t enough time on-site to take notes and photos, all of that information would have to be entered into a database to generate the energy model, says Herbert Dwyer, CEO of EMPEQ.

“A tremendous amount of time was being wasted collecting this data,” he said. “This has to change. There has to be a better way.”

About seven years ago, Dwyer teamed up with COO Derek LaClair and CSO Ed Wilson to found EMPEQ, a company focused on energy efficiency and equipment management technology with instant analytics for equipment. REV: Operating out of the Ithaca Startup Works incubator space, the company uses technology and artificial intelligence to speed up the energy audit process.

With EMPEQ, auditors simply take photos in the field using the company’s Fast Site Survey product, and by the time they return to the office, the data is ready for modeling, Dwyer says.

These models are blueprints that tell building owners what they need to do to improve their buildings’ energy efficiency, and LaClair says they’re critical to the U.S. meeting its climate goals by the 2050 deadline. In fact, for all buildings to meet that goal, buildings would need to be retrofitted at three times the current rate — the equivalent of about 7,100 buildings per day.

“83 percent of buildings have end-of-life equipment,” he says, meaning more than four in five buildings have old, inefficient equipment.

Dwyer acknowledges that with already thin operating margins, carrying out energy audits and retrofitting buildings may seem economically challenging, but the bigger picture is that companies are already paying for it.

“We’re spending too much on electric, gas and steam,” he says. An audit and renovation is an investment, but it will reduce your utility bills. Plus, the state has a number of programs with rebates and other incentives to help defray some of those costs.

Starting with an energy audit can at least let building owners know what equipment they have, and that information can help them take advantage of available programs, Dwyer explains.

“This isn’t just about saving the planet and doing the right thing,” he says. “It makes economic sense.”

Currently, the U.S. Air Force is EMPEQ’s largest customer, using the company’s technology to audit bases.

“We also work with the U.S. Department of Energy,” Dwyer says, which is using EMPEQ’s technology to audit college campuses.

“We work with public utility companies as well as private multinational and multi-sector companies,” Dwyer says.

EMPEQ was recently named to the German Energy Agency’s SET100 list, which recognizes the 100 most promising energy startups worldwide for 2024. The honor comes as EMPEQ is preparing to release the latest version of its flagship product, Fast Site Survey 3.0.

The company is also preparing to hire more employees: Currently it has 14 employees, and Dwyer says EMPEQ is looking to fill sales, marketing, development/coding, and project management roles.

“Things are going well,” Dwyer said. “We’ve finally got the wind in our sails. We want the best and the brightest.”


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