By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews
While climbing through attics and auditing homeowners’ insulation, plumbing, light bulbs and windows, the entrepreneurs behind Columbia’s greeNEWit saw an opportunity — the inefficiency in the energy efficiency business.
Contractors like themselves filled out reports with pen and paper in the field and later completed different reports for utilities and government overseers. The process wasted time and generated reams of paper, an output antithetical to the energy efficiency auditing itself.
So, greeNEWit’s three co-founders — all are in their mid- to late 20s and are graduates of Oakland Mills High School in Columbia — sought to solve the problem with software, developing an application that keeps contractors and monitors on the same page on efficiency projects, eliminating stacks of paper reports.
“In most cases, it makes more sense to fund efficiency than it does to build new power plants. The model, as far as implementing energy efficiency, works,” said Jason Jannati, one of the co-founders and greeNEWit’s chief communication officer. “Right now the way it’s being run is very inefficient.”
The company has modest roots and big plans.
Headquarters is on a shady cul-de-sac, in what was Jannati’s mother’s house, not far from where Jannati and co-founders Josh Notes and Matej Harangozo went to high school.
Operating at the intersection of the green energy and information technology fields, greeNEWit is growing. There are 28 people on the payroll now, and Jannati said that could double that in the next year.
“A lot of it has to do with contracts were talking about with the software,” he said. “We want our platform to be what the industry runs on.”
The company still performs energy audits, focusing on multifamily residential units and stepping into the commercial space, too.
But it is the software that began as an internal tool for greeNEWit’s auditors that appears to hold the most promise for the company’s future.
“We understood the issues we were having, all of our other competitors were having as well,” Jannati said. “We figured if we could solve the problem for us, we could solve it for the industry.”
The software platform was on the market, but greeNEWit pulled it back to retool and refocus the product. The company has a few clients using it during the beta phase, and a full version could roll out in a year or year-and-a-half.
Utilities, government agencies and other organizations mandating and implementing large-scale energy efficiency programs — the state’s EmPower Maryland goal is to cut energy consumption 15 percent by 2015 — will be the targets.
“When we do go live, it will be in a more comprehensive way, as opposed to offering it to contractors on the ground,” Jannati said. “We’re going to offer it in a more top-down approach.”