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Ashley Halligan, one of Urban Times contributors and an analyst at Texas-based Software Advice, recently published an article on VentureBeat outlining a growing trend in VC-funded digital cleantech–shifting from typical hardware-based investing.

Her story provides interesting points like, “The nearly five million commercial and industrial facilities in the United States account for nearly half of all domestic energy consumption, at a cost of over $200 billion each year. But according to Chris Pacitti, general partner at venture capital firm Austin Ventures, only five percent of that market has adopted sophisticated energy management tools. Investors are taking notice.”

And, “A Pike Research report estimates the EMS and services industry will grow to $5.5 billion by 2020, from just under $1 billion in 2011. That’s a compound annual growth rate of more than 20 percent.”

“William Jaffray, an energy engineer at Associated Renewable, points out that many businesses are taking a hard look at their energy use for the first time. This stems from the desire to reduce consumption, lower energy costs, and address White House calls-to-action like the Green Button Initiative. “Good management software provides useful analysis of energy consumption and costs,” Jaffray says.

Juan Lois, financial analyst at Associated Renewable, adds, “The key to the accelerated growth of the industry is the fact that businesses and large corporations now have access to much more detailed and precise energy consumption reports. This allows them to reduce the variability of consumption–especially during peak demand times–reducing energy costs, maximizing efficiency, lowering operating costs, and increasing the value of the property.”

To read what venture capitalists have to say about the trends–and the longterm revenue potential, read the full article here.