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E5: Budderfly CEO Al Subbloie on Building Energy Management and HVAC Sustainability Trends

October 19, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

How can restaurant chains and other types of businesses that have "repeatable" real estate footprints become more energy efficient? Budderfly CEO Al Subbloie shares some clues and metrics in this Sustainable Tech Partner podcast (Episode 5), which covers energy as a service, building energy management and the need to modernize HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems.

Related: See more Sustainable Tech Partner podcasts here.

Business Background

Budderfly, founded in 2017, develops an Energy as a Service (EaaS) platform that now spans more than 5,000 customer sites across the United States. Key adopters include such restaurant brands and chains as Checkers, Golden Corral, Five Guys, Culver’s, Del Taco, and Popeyes.

Anecdotal evidence suggests Budderfly is in fast-growth mode. Indeed, the company landed on the 2023 Inc. 5000 list -- which recognizes the fastest-growing privately held companies in the country.

But what exactly is Budderfly's platform? The elevator-pitch answer involves an end-to-end energy management solution that can span HVAC systems, air quality management, LED lighting, refrigeration, smart panels, sensors and controls, and solar energy. The system, available as a service, can potentially reduce customers' reduce energy consumption by 70%, Budderfly asserts.

Budderfly isn't working in a vacuum. Partners Group, an investment firm, acquired a majority equity stake in the business in mid-2022. At the time, the investment firm committed further growth capital totaling more than $500 million to the Budderfly business.

With that background in mind, we caught up with Subbloie to gain his thoughts on the overall building energy management market, and where Budderfly fits in the sector. His thoughts are captured in the podcast above.

Podcast Episode 5: Budderfly CEO Al Subbloie

The conversation further above covers:

  • 0:00 - Introductions
  • 0:46 - Building energy and efficiency: Why the energy transition economics are so compelling.
  • 2:18 - Key market segments: How Budderfly landed in a specific portion of the building energy management market.
  • 4:47 - How rising interest rates and debt may -- or may not -- impact the building energy management market. What CFOs are thinking.
  • 6:15 - The all-in HVAC refresh model: How Budderfly manages all the financial risk for customers.
  • 7:28 - How Budderfly's business model manages the financial economics of deployments.
  • 9:45 - A hypothetical deployment involving a fast food chain with 100 locations: What's involved?
  • 12:15 - Where software and metering fits into the HVAC and refrigeration market.
  • 13:32 - Where partners fit into the sale process, and the longer-term monitoring and management opportunities.
  • 15:30 - The financial model for partners.
  • 17:40 - Budderfly's key priorities for the rest of 2023: "We are hitting stride on scale."
  • 19:30 - Where a network operations center (NOC), Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence fit into the building energy management conversation.
  • 21:04 - Some more background on Al Subbloie: Previous business journeys and why he was drawn to this market. "We're fairly disruptive but practical."
  • 23:10 - How need to modernize building infrastructure before you apply artificial intelligence to the building.
  • 25:40 - Where the heat pump trend fits in.
  • 26:30 - Budderfly's longer-term market plan: Clues about 2024 and beyond.
  • 29:04 - How to reach Budderfly.
  • 29:53 - Conclusion
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