Updated 2:48 pm ET, Wednesday, April 2
The White House’s recent effort to get homeowners more detailed and easier-to-read views of their energy consumption from local utilities has gained more support from the private sector.
On Wednesday, a Boston-based company called Retroficiency, which offers “virtual energy assessments” of commercial buildings to identify potential usage and cost savings, announced it had adopted the White House’s Green Button energy information publication standard in its product.
“Now, a commercial customer with access to Green Button-formatted interval data will also be able to rapidly and cost-effectively identify savings opportunities,” said Bennett Fisher, CEO of Retroficiency, in a statement provided to TPM. “Any successful initiative that promotes greater access to building data will help Retroficiency, and other trusted providers, deliver on the goal of bringing scale to the commercial energy efficiency industry.”
The Green Button standard is a new initiative launched in January by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in conjunction with the Department of Energy and private utilities companies around the nation to make utilities data on household energy consumption easily accessible on the websites of said utilities.
In late March, the White House announced it had secured the commitment of nine major utilities across the nation covering some 15 million households to make their individual energy usage data available online.
However, other companies participating in the effort have called into question the true utility of the data being made available, as it is only accessible for download in CSV and XML file formats, two widely-used but somewhat technical standards that may not be easy for the average consumer to understand.
The Department of Energy, though, in early April launched an open challenge to all third-party software developers around the nation to develop apps and other programs to make the the energy usage data more user-friendly and accessible on mobile devices. The first-ever Apps for Energy competition will award $100,000 worth of prize money split between a total of eight winners in various categories, to be announced May 22. App submissions are due by May 15.
Late update: The White House on Wednesday afternoon announced that along with the new commitment from Retroficiency, it also secured commitments from six new utilities companies, accounting for the energy usage of another 15 million U.S. households and businesses (up to 30 million now). In additional, five other industry partners like Retroficiency have signed on to use Green Button data to act as data brokers, prodiving energy use and savings information from utilities to customers in an easily readable format.
As White House chief technology officer Todd Park said in a statement: “Giving residential and commercial customers secure access to their own energy data in a standard, easy-to-understand format will help them visualize their energy use and identify opportunities to save money. At the same time, Green Button is spurring the development of new online tools and services that add value to this information, creating an innovative new domain for entrepreneurship and job creation.”
Other industry partners include: EnergyAI, Melon Power, Performance Systems Development, Retroficiency, Snugg Home, and Wattvision.
“In the past, energy data was costly and difficult to capture, requiring building owners to install additional metering or integrate with building management systems. The ‘Green Button’ changes that, giving commercial building owners and facility managers access to energy data with a single click,” said Craig Isakow, Melon’s CEO, in a statement about the new partnership Wednesday.
Melon Power is a D.C.-based startup that provides energy efficiency reviews on buildings to get them to comply with the EPA’s Energy Star requirements for certifications.