From Oberlin to Oakland: The Advance of Lucid and BuildingOS

By Christina Burchette

How do you change the way people use energy? You turn them into active participants in their energy consumption by giving them tools to monitor their use. That is the goal of the Oakland-based company Lucid—to change our habits by making us aware of how much energy we use. So far, it’s been extremely successful.

The company got its start as a competing team from Oberlin College in EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) grant competition. In 2005, the team won a P3 grant for their prototype: the Building Dashboard. This online tool tracks in real-time how much energy and water is being used in a building and provides visual insights that can influence occupants to change their habits.

After winning the P3 award, Lucid’s dashboard tool has been used in energy-saving competitions nationwide. In one ongoing competition, the Campus Conservation Nationals, participating students compete to reduce energy consumption in their residence halls over a three-week period. In the most recent competition, a little over 300,000 students and staff at 125 schools saved 1.9 million kilowatt-hours of energy by using Lucid’s product to track their usage. That’s equivalent to 2.4 million pounds of CO2 and $180,000 in savings!

Two Lucid employees using the product

Lucid’s platform prepares simple data visualizations to clearly show how much energy the user consumes.

Today, Lucid’s “BuildingOS” platform allows users to collect and access real-time data from all of their meters (like electricity, water, etc.) to help them monitor energy and water consumption and provides other building management tools. The platform is easy to use and prepares aesthetically-pleasing data visualizations to clearly show how much energy the user consumes.

Lucid is a perfect example of how small business and environmental concerns can come together and create innovative tools that change the way we think about resource consumption. We are proud to have supported them back when their business was just an idea, and that’s why we are so excited that they will be receiving a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract this month to continue developing their technology.

About the Author: Christina Burchette is a student contractor and writer for the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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