The “Google Street View” of Energy Efficiency

Is Any Remote Infrared View Useful to Saving Energy?

Essess Webpage Screen Shot 2012-07-27 at 10.52.46 AM

Southampton PA, USA — A recent Forbes Magazine article caught our eye. It was entitled: Photos Reveal Your Home’s Energy Loss In Lurid Color.

In it, the company, Essess, was referred to as: “the Google Street View of energy efficiency” and the article described how the company has been driving Panoramic Infrared Imager equipped SUVs around like Google Street View does but Essess’s vehicles are taking thermal images of the buildings one by one, instead of visual images with the goal of helping pinpoint problem buildings and improve energy efficiency of the ones needing help.

Do they have a real solution? Probably not according to our information.

Essess says that they,

“Collect building inefficiency data by reducing the cost & friction
Analyze the collected data with rigorous scientific methodologies
Report data in a simple & easily understandable format
Engage owners and businesses in a building efficiency marketplace”

You can read more online at:?? http://www.essess.com/about-us/energy-insight.html.

But wait, before you do.

There’s More”!!!

There’s another view on the subject.

StocktonLogoThe flip side of Essess’s great thermal images, is that people in the infrared community have seen them all before…in spades. In fact, at TempSensorNEWS have featured several stories about one of the most innovative organizations that we know, Stockton Infrared Services, that are full-time, experienced users of thermal infrared performing home energy surveys and far more.

Stockton Infrared has been in the business for many years and is one of the best known thermal imaging service organizations in the USA, with a wide scope of interests from Aerial Infrared to Veterinary Infrared.

Their Aerial Infrared Services Division, known more familiarly as??AITscan??? and their ThermalMapIR Services appear to not only capable of doing what Essess has started to do, but do it far more quickly and more efficiently using very high technology infrared cameras and??Ortho-Rectification tools from the air!

Appear is the operative term…it isn’t really possible to do energy efficiency screening even from the air, they say.

Read on, please.

chicago_areas
Chicago Areas

Their AreaScanIR Services have already archived aerial imagery from nearly 21 US cities including Chicago (see above), Dallas and Detroit with an aim to locating serious roof leaks and energy leaks in underground piping and steam lines. Those are different applications of infrared imaging technology than energy conservation ones.

(Ten city image archives are already listed on their website and another eleven will be added shortly, according to Mr. Greg Stockton of Stockton Infrared Services.)

I called Greg Stockton in preparation for this article and he knew all about Essess. “If they are the Google Street View of Energy Efficiency, then we are the Google Earth of Infrared,” he bellowed into the phone! (Greg is always emphatic.)

Greg went on further to explain that doing energy efficiency surveys on buildings of any type is neither a “drive-by” nor “fly-by” activity.

“There are just too many variables that cannot be quantified without examining the structure from both the inside and outside, You can’t even tell which ones are poorly insulated without doing more than an exterior image,” he said.

He referred me to a copy of his online technical paper entitled: ???Aerial Infrared ??? An Asset Management Tool for District Heating System Operators??? that he had presented at the 2007 IDEA Annual Conference (see the webpage: www.stocktoninfrared.com/published-papers/).

The key take-away from this paper related to the need for a detailed survey is:

“However unfortunate, ???wholesale??? building heat loss surveys cannot be accomplished with a NADIR thermal survey, primarily because most building roofs are decoupled from the heat loss of the building, either with ventilation, with insulation or by being so reflective that they are immeasurable with IR sensors. Oblique aerial or on-ground, right-angle infrared surveying of the walls will be necessary to accomplish building heat loss surveys.”

He explained further, “The same limitations are there for ground-based imaging. One has to examine a building carefully, for example, as we and others in the USA and technologists in Finland, Poland and?? Canada have done and reported in the literature, like the Proceeding of SPIE from the ThermoSense Conferences and elsewhere.

“It’s all there, written for people to read and understand.”

Bottom line: Be wary what you read in the popular press about technical subjects; things aren’t always as they appear.

As for weatherization efforts in the USA, there’s already been some $5 Billion USD allocated (spent?) on statewide projects in every US state since 2009. The results are not outstanding, as we will report in a follow up article, prompted by my interview with Greg Stockton.

More later.

Ray Peacock
Editor & Publisher

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