The United States has long been an international leader in promoting technology and innovation policy while providing consumers the rights and access to the resources they need to derive economic value and make informed decisions. This administration has worked toward these goals through the liberalization of Federal data, and in 2013, President Obama signed an executive order to commit the government to releasing open, machine-readable data. This has enabled public access to tens of thousands of government datasets, which are directly available for download at data.gov.
In that spirit, the White House, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology launched the Green Button Initiative in 2012, providing American businesses and families with simple and secure access to their energy consumption data in a standardized format, an effort that has since grown significantly in size and sophistication.
The Green Button Alliance was launched in February 2015 in coordination with the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy to advance the development of energy usage data standards, including some of those promulgated through the agency’s smart grid programs and the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, and to support their implementation by creating a rich ecosystem of interoperable solutions that enable consumer access to electricity usage data. The Green Button Alliance now supports education, development, testing, and certification of the standards, and is helping the energy industry bring standardized and certified implementations to the market.
Green Button Alliance Launch in San Diego, February 2015
Who is using Green Button data today? Millions in the United States, and millions more internationally. More than 150 utilities and service providers have committed to providing more than 60 million U.S. households (including altogether 100 million people) access to their own Green Button energy data in a consumer- and computer-friendly format. Similar efforts are also taking hold internationally. In Canada, for example, more than half of Ontario-based consumers, totaling 3 million residences and businesses, now have access to their Green Button data.
Green Button’s Connect My Data program is now available at multiple utilities in multiple countries, including San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, ComEd, and Pepco in the United States, and London Hydro and Hydro One in Canada. The program allows utility customers to automate the process of sharing their data with a specific third-party while protecting customer privacy. For instance, working with ComEd’s Connect My Data platform, Elmhurst Hospital was able to leverage third-party tools and their Green Button data to reduce energy costs in their campus of facilities in Illinois. Similarly, this past spring, 35 schools in the San Diego Unified School District participated in SDG&E’s Second Annual Energy Conservation Competition, using the Connect My Data program to share their energy consumption data with a third party who enabled the school teams to visualize hourly electricity use in their buildings, track competition standings, and identify opportunities to save energy.
Utility customers with access to Green Button data use it to save energy in their homes and businesses. Customers are also sharing their data with renewable energy contractors, including solar installers and others, to help design home systems aligned to their needs. For example, the SunShot Catalyst Program recently engaged with 17 teams of entrepreneurs to develop market-enabling applications to propel the solar industry forward. These teams are connecting to Green Button data to understand fine-grained energy consumption, plan and build household photovoltaic systems, and enable energy sharing.
Moving forward, the Department of Energy, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Office of Science and Technology Policy will continue to work with leaders in the energy data community to advance the Green Button Initiative. The initiative is presently open to any interested stakeholders including electric, gas, and water utilities; hardware and software providers; and technology integrators.
Further, we are presently currently compiling success stories, recent milestones, and achievements related to the Green Button Initiative. If you have a Green Button success story or innovation to share, please send us an email at DataInnovation@hq.doe.gov.
Kristen Honey is an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.
David Wollman is Deputy Director of the Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce.
Dipayan Ghosh is a Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.