Like Comfy, Opower leverages machine learning to improve the occupant experience and save energy. While Comfy makes Opower employees more comfortable and productive, Opower makes energy consumers more efficient. It's a win, win! We are thrilled to welcome Opower to the Comfy client family, and to bring customized comfort to their employees.
The post below was originally published on Opower’s blog.
How’s the temperature in your office today?
“You can literally see Post-It notes blowing in the wind,” an Opower employee told me earlier this month, remarking on an air conditioner that was inexplicably running full-blast. “We joke about keeping popsicles in the Marketing room.”
It’s the kind of problem a lot of us deal with at work. One side of the office is sweltering. The other side is shivering. You see sweaters in July, and shirtsleeves in January.
We were tired of it. So last week, Opower’s Virginia headquarters launched Comfy, the world’s first intelligent software application for on-demand, personalized comfort in commercial buildings.
An individual employee can tell Comfy their comfort level with just one click. The HVAC system reacts by heating or cooling the specific zone of the floor where they’re located.
The benefits go beyond comfort. Excessively hot and cold offices are linked to reduced productivity, a shocking amount of energy waste, and even bias against female employees—not to mention general unhappiness.
Opower VA employees started using Comfy last week.
Before Comfy, changing our office temperature was a painful process. An uncomfortable employee would have to file a request with our Operations team, who would then create a ticket with our building’s tenant request system. We were totally dependent on our building engineer, who had to manually adjust the system for each request. In many cases, it would take so long to make the change—up to several hours—that the suffering employee had already left for a more comfortable part of the office.
Now, with Comfy, comfort is just a tap away. Comfy connects our employees directly to the HVAC system through their computer or mobile device, and adjusts the temperature based on employee requests. Each employee can tell Comfy exactly a) where they are on the office floor and b) whether they’re too hot or too cold. Comfy then responds with a brief stream of cool (or warm) air.
The more employees use Comfy, the faster it learns our preferences. If Comfy knows that a specific conference room is usually frigid during meetings, it’ll program that zone to stay warmer (no more popsicles in the Marketing room). Or, say Comfy learns that the sunny side of the office gets unbearably warm each afternoon. Instead of waiting until 2:00 pm, Comfy will gradually cool that area ahead of time. Like Opower, Comfy uses machine learning to find hidden patterns in energy data, and turns that information into a better customer experience.
Comfy is also part of our broader mission to be a double bottom line company. When we move to our brand new Arlington office in 2018, we’ll bring Comfy with us, aiming for LEED Gold certification for energy efficient buildings. Our current headquarters is certified LEED Silver for existing buildings, while our San Francisco office is LEED Platinum.
It’s a natural fit: while Opower gives utility customers control over their energy use — helping them save more than $1 billion on energy bills to date — Comfy gives employees like ours the power to control their energy use at work. If you can’t stand the heat — well, you don’t have to anymore. And you certainly won’t be left out in the cold.
A more comfortable, responsive office helps make Opower an even better place to work. Comfortable workers are happier. They even make feewr tpyos. That means our employees can stay focused on building a clean energy future — and stay comfy in the process.