Q&A with Anthony Altmann, co-founder & CEO of Energy IQ Group, LLC
by Boardroom Brief on November 05, 2010
1. Founded in 2001, Energy IQ Group (EIQ) is a leading energy intelligence company that implements “smart building” systems for Fortune 500 companies, government and military clients and offers critical building analytics and management tools over the web. Can you discuss the unique technology EIQ utilizes in managing and monitoring buildings for energy and operational efficiency as well as carbon footprinting?
The greenest kW of energy is the one that is never used. EIQ designs, engineers and integrates building operating platforms that provide owners and occupants with critical analytics and active building management tools. EIQ’s SaaS (software as a service) approach, combining agnostic software with embedded decision system support logic, allows for increased optimization of building operation. Its solutions are applied across diverse systems at low cost without interfering with existing controls. EIQ has been an innovator in the rapidly growing MBCx (monitoring based commissioning) market. EIQ’s customers are able to measure, monitor, and control all aspects of their energy, lighting, and air quality. Typical results include a 30% decrease in energy consumption. That is 30% less carbon released into the atmosphere and 30% lower energy costs for our customers.
2. EIQ employs an innovative, holistic approach in reducing energy costs with the fewest possible setbacks. What are some of the energy-reduction solutions you deliver to clients in empowering building owners to achieve ‘true’ energy management optimization?
We believe in the old business axiom: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” We encourage all building owners to install integrated building controls to efficiently automate their buildings, provide easy scheduling, web-accessible control dashboards, and alert notifications when something unexpected happens. Integration is the key. Traditional building controls typically involve air conditioning, lighting, and security systems. Energy IQ’s solutions allow all these verticals (and more) to integrate with each other, creating a smart building that can greatly optimize energy and operational efficiency. Many competitors require customers to use their proprietary solution – which means customers are forced to use the provider’s equipment and can only access their information through the provider’s web portal and service technicians. At Energy IQ, our customers tell us what level of control they want, not the other way around. We put the customer in charge of their building by using agnostic solutions that integrate with any building systems or existing controls. Using our technology, customers can access their energy usage through their own custom web portal and are able to make decisions of how to manage their own energy, lighting, air quality, and any other controllable aspect of the building.
3. You have been at the forefront of the energy industry evolution since the 1980’s with over 25 years of successful leadership in the energy business sector as a senior level operating executive, corporate consultant and entrepreneur. Prior to starting EIQ, you were Division President of FPL Group’s wholesale energy operation where you re-invented and led one of the most active and successful physical wholesale power trading groups in North America. How does your extensive experience and unique core skill set help you achieve better practical operation results for EIQ clients than your competitors?
When my partner, Joe Stepenovitch, and I founded EIQ, we understood that traditionally, energy investments are based on a conservative view of risk and return. We brought that approach to the green building space. We use a straight-forward approach to solving existing operating needs, rather than creating new solutions and looking for problems. That sounds simple, but I have seen this mistake over and over in this industry. Many “green” energy solutions require a high risk expectation of future market and customer moves. This increases dependence on things like tax credits, new carbon taxes, or government subsidy. EIQ, on the other hand, offers extremely high value to customers with very low financial risk – many times our customers have a payback of less than 18 months. We also follow the trends. The smart grid and distributed power generation are useful concepts, but they require smart buildings to actually work. That is where EIQ comes in, by upgrading existing buildings to be “smart” we are enabling the smart grid and truly add value to the market today.
4. In addition to significant savings on corporate energy costs and reducing the carbon footprint, what are some of the other benefits for large property owners in developing energy and green-tech alternatives for commercial, government and industrial sites?
We offer our customers tools to enable simpler and faster operation of their building. There are thousands ways we can improve operations, it all depends on the building. For instance, our first project for the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City was to automate their hot and cold water mixers so water would flow out of their faucets at an acceptable temperature. Prior to our system being installed customers were actually being scalded by the hotel’s hot water. Some of our customers pass along their energy management solution to their tenants. We are dealing with a building owner in New York City today that has very high-end commercial tenants and wants use our system as a way to differentiate his space and go green. Installing energy management systems also provides LEED credits, which is important to many customers.
5. In addition to EIQ, you are an active investor in several private South Florida businesses where you actively perform turn-arounds or startups in diverse fields from energy to healthcare. Concern for the environment is often the cornerstone of your investment strategy. Do you currently have other sustainable projects in the works?
I am focusing all of my effort in this space on EIQ. Smart grid and smart buildings is at the heart of what we are doing today for a very specific reason. After many years of working on a variety of aspects in the green and renewable space, we have one fact has been confirmed to us over and over…that connected buildings, campuses, and properties made “smart” are the most effective way to reduce energy consumption, reduce carbon footprint, and become sustainable. This touches every area of the energy market and, therefore, is such a large market with such an important impact that there is more than enough to do in this critical space. EIQ can provide the greatest impact and most value in the marketplace by becoming extremely successful in the smart building and smart grid world.
6. Due to your successful track record in creating high performance teams/organizations and your deep background in energy, you have been tapped to provide both strategic and tactical advice. Currently, you sit on several private boards including EcoChamber, a global organization dedicated to helping environmentally responsible businesses connect. Formerly a New Yorker, you and your family now call South Florida home where you have participated with FAU’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship as a 2010 Executive Forum Speaker and as a judge at the 2009 Business Plan Competition. How are you preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs and how will emerging green initiatives factor into their success?
I am a believer in knowledge sharing and building bridges for the future generations. Often times I have the opportunity to share what I have learned at energy conference and special events. EIQ also uses social media tools as a resource for our customers and anyone looking to learn more about our industry by distributing the latest industry news and information. Everyone’s future will be impacted by “green” initiatives. As a society, our country must learn how to use energy wisely so we don’t fall behind other nations that have gone green already. It is tied to our economy and national security. My challenge is to offer products services that, first, make good business sense and, second, help to provide a more sustainable lifestyle. Too often in this industry, people reverse these concepts and wind up with an ineffective business plan.
About Anthony Altmann
Anthony Altmann, the co-founder & CEO of Energy IQ Group, LLC, previously was the Division President for FPL Group and headed up Wholesale Energy Markets, which managed commercial aspects for 22,000 megawatts of power generation in 14 states. Altmann also helped lead the FPL efforts to grow its IPP business and retail energy expansion. He led the development and acquisition efforts that moved FPL into renewable energy, including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydro. Altmann supported new retail electric and gas efforts in numerous markets outside Florida. Prior to FPL Group, he ran a $350 million public integrated gas company with 200,000 retail customers that was one of the Top 15 on INC Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies. He earned his MBA at Columbia University and has 25 years of successful leadership in energy business.