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How Cleantech Wants to Make a 2012 Comeback

Four businesses highlighted their products, and their importance, at the SVForum's Clean Tech Conference.

Wired Magazine reported Friday that the Silicon Valley clean tech boom has gone bust. Still, attendees at SVForum’s Clean Technology Conference at Palo Alto’s SAP Thursday had forward-looking hopes for sustainable developments in the Valley and beyond in 2012.

On the panel “Innovation and Development,” four start-ups discussed the ways their products are being utilized -- from the conference room the nearly 200 attendees sat in to farm fresh deliveries to the Googleplex.

Energy efficient glass, on demand. At first glance, Milpitas-based Soladigm’s glass windows - which laced portions of SAP’s conference room in the form of sky lights - seem similar to any other. But there’s a distinguishing factor, said Erich Klawuhn, vice president of business development.

Customers can make the glass of the so-called Dynamic Windows turn "dark on demand," said Klawuhn, controlling the amount of heat and light that infiltrates the building. Since the windows control glare they also do not require blinds or shades.

“It saves us energy, and also gives nice natural light during lunch,” added moderator Gil Perez from SAP.

The Farmer's Market 2.0. An online platform to connect directly with farmers,  Farmigo launched in partnership with TechCrunch in September of last year to “bring the farmer’s market experience directly to you,” said CEO Benzi Ronen.

People can easily connect with their local farmers, said Ronen, and order produce shipped directly to them. Headquarted in New York City, the company has produce drop-off stations for farmers around the country, including three at the Googleplex.

“By going direct, a farmer can make 80 cents versus 20 cents,” said Ronen. “Farmers aren’t just growers, but entrepreneurs, and have a much more direct relationship with their food.”

An online energy map. Market sectors such as food service and processing and data centers are huge consumers of energy -- and thus face high costs to keep their operations running smoothly.

Panoramic Power aims to help these companies trim their costs by 10 to 30 percent through real-time monitoring of the many ways they use -- or perhaps unwittingly abuse -- energy.

“It allows people to see where their energy is coming from,” said Vice president of Business and Marketing Tsafrir Oranski of the New York City-based company. “If one system doesn’t work right, it affects the others.”

Reducing water use. Barely a year old, San Francisco-based Banyan Water is looking to conserve one of the world’s scarcest resources. Now it is targeting large companies and universities in the most water scarce regions of the country, “but because we’re connected to a cloud, we can install the systems anywhere,” said CEO Tamin Pechet.

Some potential projects include installing a smart-grid type of network that will deliver real time data of where water is going, and if there’s a leak. A real-time irrigation system could know when to delay watering -- say, when a giant storm is about to roll into town.

The company will also help their clients reuse their water. “Water re-use is going to happen more and more,” said Pechet, “and we’ll have some ways to benefit from that as a company.”

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