Feature Article — Program saves big energy for big clients

FAIRFIELD TWP. -- Dan Buchanan, president of Pathian Inc., was certain his firm could reduce energy costs for its clients with a data-driven approach to optimizing heating and cooling systems. What he couldn't do was provide quantitative proof.

So Buchanan, a control system engineer by trade, worked 18-hour days for about two months to develop Pathian Analysis, a program to help clients such as hospitals and schools change usage behaviors and improve the efficiency and extend the life of machinery.

"I developed Pathian Analysis out of necessity," Buchanan said. "It's funny how things work out sometimes. It was really an afterthought. I needed a tool to prove I was saving our customers energy. Now it's the backbone of my business and allows us to understand the energy-consumption habits of customers in ways never before possible."

Amy Ewing, vice president-shared services of the Greater Cincinnati Health Council, says Pathian has produced measurable results for area hospitals. Ewing called upon Pathian to study all 24 member hospitals and confidentially compare data with their peers in Greater Cincinnati.

"Dan sat down with each participant individually and identified additional opportunities for their facility to reduce energy usage," said Ewing. "Members that have implemented and sustained Pathian's recommendations are reporting to me five- to six-figure savings ranging from 18 to 30 percent annually, and ongoing. Bottom line, we have found that Dan's approach to energy equipment optimization aligns well with our members' priority to take their energy efficiency results to the next level."

Buchanan now has big dreams for Pathian, which he founded in 2007, after achieving nearly $3 million in revenues in 2012 with projected growth of up to $6 million this year. Just two years ago, Pathian's revenues hovered around $500,000. "There are 7,000 hospitals in America," Buchanan said. "I want to work with all of them."

Within three months, Buchanan expects to obtain the patent on Pathian Analysis, which was filed in January 2008. He plans to expand his company's reach to Columbus and Dayton, and add up to 20 employees within two years.

"We've really taken off," said Buchanan. "I want to prioritize a list of schools from most (energy) efficient to least efficient, and identify where to spend the money."

Buchanan says that while replacing old equipment often is the first option presented to his customers, it's considered a last resort for Pathian.

"A hospital can replace an old chiller with a new one that is 10 percent more efficient," he says. "We can show them how to save 40 percent just by changing operating habits. Our customers see a return on their investment within one year."

Pathian's recommendations can range from a simple change in habits such as not running a thermostat when class isn't in session to modifying equipment, for which Pathian hires contractors but acts as project manager.

Pathian's program can show a hospital how much energy it consumes in one hour at 50 degrees, 40 degrees and so on, taking into account humidity. It can then make adjustments and measure how further changes affect energy consumption.

For more information visit www.pathian.com.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.