Energy management and environmental performance are integral parts of building operations these days. There's a slew of reasons organizations undertake energy audits and seek performance improvement measures: changing laws, reduction in energy expenses, demonstration of corporate social responsibility, and commitment to reducing overall environmental impact.

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Energy management and environmental performance are integral parts of building operations these days. There’s a slew of reasons organizations undertake energy audits and seek performance improvement measures: changing laws, reduction in energy expenses, demonstration of corporate social responsibility, and commitment to reducing overall environmental impact.

As organizations strategize to address consumption and performance, new technologies are becoming readily available–and at varying price points. The software market for energy performance suites is vast, providing features for a broad range of needs from performance assessment to the gamification of occupant behavior. Investing in an energy management suite may be intimidating for many organizations who may not have the upfront capital for such an investment. But, for these kinds of organizations, and any other organization, there’s a wide range of standalone applications entering the market performing every task imaginable. Many of these applications are incredibly affordable, and some are even free. Here are three standalone applications available today that any organization can afford.

Screenshot of the software taken from the Melon Power site.

1. Melon Power recently won second place in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Apps for Energy contest in the “Best Overall App” category. Designed to meet the White House’s recent Green Button initiatives asking the nation’s energy providers to make consumption data more accessible to its customers, both commercial and residential, Melon Power calculates ENERGY SCORE benchmarks by using user-inputted data stemming from 12 months of energy consumption information provided by energy providers involved in the Green Button initiative. It then reports the findings to the EPA’s Portfolio Manager. The app costs $500 per building and saves the organization from hiring a consultant to perform similar analyses.

2. One free application on the energy management market is ecoInsight’s Mobile Audit for iPad. This energy audit tool allows the user to do a building walkthrough and input various consumption data that is later uploaded to ecoInsight’s site and analyzed for energy upgrade suggestions.

3. Achieving an entirely different energy management assessment is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning’s HVAC ASHRAE 62.1-2010 which can measure a commercial building’s indoor air quality (IAQ) and determine whether or not it meets the industry-respected ASHRAE standard for ventilation. This tool also assists building operators who are in the midst of earning LEED credits, ensuring that their IAQ is within the paramaters to earn LEED credits in that field.

Though full energy management suites can be valuable investments, these applications demonstrate a widening opportunity for any organization–with any level of available capital (even if that means none)–to implement new technologies to measure and assess current performance in the process of boosting performance while establishing a commitment to lowering energy costs and having a positive impact on the environment.

The research for this article was originally conducted for Software Advice, an Austin-based software advisory firm.