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Scientific Conservation Inc. (SCI), which makes software that monitors energy use in commercial buildings, has raised $15.65 million in a second round of funding.

This marks the latest in a string of companies focusing on opportunities in the mammoth commercial buildings market, which SCI estimates as a $5 billion opportunity.

SCI’s software tracks and diagnoses energy use and problems across a building’s HVAC, refrigeration, lighting, and other systems. The latest funding round was led by Barry Schuler of the DFJ Growth Fund.

It’s rare to see energy efficiency succeed in residential markets, where savings are smaller and companies have to convince risk-averse utilities to try out new technologies. But commercial buildings are, by some accounts, responsible for 20 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. — and 30 percent of energy used by those buildings is wasted. Companies that can offer energy efficiency and cost savings to commercial buildings are a playing in a sector expected to get hot this year.

Some of the hottest markets set to boom this year are geared toward commercial buildings — lighting systems, building controls and energy efficiency, and players include Serious Materials, Schneider Electric and Siemens. Investors TIAA-CREF and Good Energies also started a fund last year to put $50 million in venture capital into building controls and energy efficiency.

SCI, which won backing from GE in a round of GE’s Ecoimagination contest last year, approaches building energy efficiency using a software-as-a-service product using predictive diagnostics and automation. SCI says its product can help cut annual energy costs by 15 to 25 percent by predicting energy use and automating energy management tasks. It can also seek out weaknesses in the system and streamline maintenance issues.

The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2007 and has raised a total of $24.65 million; this round includes investment from DFJ Ventures and The Westly Group.

[Image via Flickr/ricardodiaz11]

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