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Computer Science Spinoff Develops Energy Footprint Gauge

Kirk Cameron (Virginia Tech)

Kirk Cameron (Virginia Tech)

A company started by a computer science professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg offers organizations a free software tool to measure their total energy use. MiserWare, also in Blacksburg, was founded by Kirk Cameron (pictured right), a computer science faculty member at Virginia Tech, which offers a free program that can measure an organization’s carbon footprint and — in paid versions — report on and adjust a computer’s power drain without affecting performance.

Cameron is director of Virginia Tech’s Scalable Performance Lab that researches software and hardware techniques to measure and control power-aware capabilities of systems to improve their energy efficiency without negatively affecting performance. He and former student founded Joseph Turner founded the company in 2007. Cameron is MiserWare’s CEO, while Turner serves as its engineering vice-president.

Granola Enterprise, as the MiserWare software is known, can measure an organization’s baseline power consumption for its entire information technology operations. Available as a free Web-based service or installed package, the software lets organizations evaluate their power use without the need for additional equipment. “A free account,” says Cameron, “now gives organizations access to their energy footprint, making it easy to identify energy waste and evaluate power management options.”

Enhanced versions of the software, those that come with a price tag, provide detailed energy monitoring and management functions. The company has a patent pending on its intelligent software management software for servers, personal computers, and laptops. The software tracks and predicts a system’s power usage and reports on the energy saved.

MiserWare first offered software for free in February 2010. Within 100 days, Granola was downloaded 100,000 times, and a year later the number of downloads exceeded 200,000. In December 2010, Time magazine called Granola one of the top 20 green tech ideas.

Cameron estimates MiserWare is registering between 300 and 500 new users daily. He says the U.S. National Geospatial Agency is a client as well as a number of other universities, including University of California at Santa Barbara and Virginia Tech itself. The company has grown from the original two employees to seven at its Blacksburg office.

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