The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

FACT SHEET: Harnessing the Power of Data for a Clean, Secure, and Reliable Energy Future

“We are blessed when it comes to energy, but we’re much more blessed when it comes to the innovation and the dynamism and the creativity of our economy.”
– President Barack Obama, May 9, 2014

President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy recognizes that we need to deploy American assets, innovation, and technology in order to safely and responsibly develop more energy here at home and be a leader in the global energy economy. This means tapping into every ounce of America’s creativity and ingenuity to catalyze innovations that provide consumers with choices to reduce costs, save energy, and protect the environment.

This approach calls for all hands on deck—including private-sector entrepreneurs, technologists, and innovators who are critical to building the tools, services, and infrastructure needed to support a clean energy economy. Both the public and private sectors have an important role to play in continuing our progress to develop and deploy renewable energy sources, strengthen the electric grid, drive more advanced and fuel-efficient vehicles, and cut energy waste in homes and businesses. 

Since its earliest days, the Obama Administration has recognized that freely available data from the U.S. Government is an important national asset, serving as fuel for entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and economic growth. That is why the Federal Government has taken unprecedented steps to make open data more available to citizens, companies, and innovators—including by launching both an Energy Data Initiative and a Climate Data Initiative

The Administration has also long recognized the value of providing homes and businesses with secure access to their own energy usage data to spur innovation and enable informed choices. In 2012, the Administration launched a Green Button Initiative in partnership with the electric utility industry to provide families and business with easy and secure access to their own energy usage information. Today, over 100 million Americans have access to their own “Green Button” data — and the opportunity to use new private sector tools and services to manage or upgrade their own household or building energy performance.

To continue this momentum, today the White House, the Department of Energy, and the General Services Administration are hosting an “Energy Datapalooza” to announce new steps forward in support of clean energy innovation, and to highlight private-sector innovators who are harnessing the power of data to advance the clean energy economy.

Key Administration steps include:

  • Anonymized building performance data for energy retrofits, financing, and policy design: The Department of Energy announced today that its Buildings Performance Database has exceeded a milestone of 750,000 building records, making it the world’s largest public database of real buildings’ energy performance information. The Buildings Performance Database lets users mine anonymous statistical data from real buildings that match a specific building characteristic profile, enabling real estate professionals, contractors, policymakers and lenders to incorporate real-world performance data into their decision making.
  • Reducing energy costs in Federal buildings with Green Button: The President’s Climate Action Plan and a subsequent Presidential Memorandum issued in December 2013 call for leveraging the Green Button standard (an industry-developed consensus-driven method for accessing and transmitting energy-consumption information) in Federal buildings to save energy and money.  Responding to the President’s vision, the General Services Administration (GSA), with the support of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy, and working with private-sector partners Schneider Electric, Pepco Holdings and FirstFuel Software, announced today the conclusion of a successful pilot using the Green Button standard, demonstrating the opportunity for building managers to use innovative tools to manage energy usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As directed by the President, the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) will use the results of this pilot to develop government-wide guidance, and the EPA is working to integrate the Green Button standard into its EnergyStar benchmarking tool.  
  • Making solar energy more affordable with software innovation: To further reduce the “soft costs” of solar deployment, the Energy Department recently launched the SunShot Catalyst prize challenge. Catalyst will solicit “problem statements” from industry that highlight barriers and costs associated with solar deployment. Other teams will then propose solutions to these problems. The Department of Energy will help teams with the best proposal to build a prototype in 90 days. The most promising of these prototypes will be awarded a prize of up to $100,000 to launch the initial version of their solution or product.
  • Open geothermal data for scientists and industry: In response to industry demand, the Energy Department supported in the Recovery Act the creation of a National Geothermal Data System. Today, the Department of Energy is launching this resource that contains enough raw geoscience data to pinpoint elusive sweet spots of geothermal energy deep in the earth, enabling researchers and commercial developers to find the most promising areas for geothermal energy. Access to this data will reduce costs and risks of geothermal electricity production and, in turn, accelerate its deployment.
  • Open data on hydropower potential and other important attributes of rivers and streams across the United States: The Department of Energy recently released a study which identified 65-85 gigawatts of untapped hydropower potential in the United States. Accompanying the release of this report, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has released detailed data resulting from this study. This information can be used by stakeholders to help evaluate appropriate sites for hydropower development and to conduct analyses requiring information about the environmental or social characteristics of U.S. river systems.
  • American Energy Data Challenge spurs innovative uses of energy data: Today, Secretary Moniz will announce the winners of the Department of Energy’s “Apps for Energy” contest, the second part of its year-long American Energy Data Challenge to harness energy data into a more powerful force for a cleaner and more efficient economy. The Department will also announce the details of the third part of the challenge: “Open Data by Design.” Beginning June 4, this contest will invite competitors to use information design and graphic design to inspire, inform, and amplify the value of our public data resources.
  • New EPA tool helps state and local planners analyze impacts of energy policies: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed the AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT), a free software tool designed to help state and local air quality planners evaluate county-level emissions displaced at electric power plants by efficiency and renewable energy policies and programs. Analysts are able to improve their understanding of the emission benefits of statewide or multi-state energy efficiency and renewables policies and programs. Regulatory planners are able to assess emission benefits incorporated into Clean Air Act plan to meet clean air goals. Energy officials are able to estimate and promote the air benefits of their energy efficiency or renewable energy policies.

Private-sector and other commitments include:

  • Continued momentum on the Green Button Initiative:  In December 2013, the Administration announced that 48 utilities and electricity suppliers serving more than 59 million homes and businesses have committed to enable their customers with “Green Button” access to help them save energy and shrink their bills. Of these, over 42 million household and business customers (reaching well over 100 million Americans) already have access to their Green Button energy data. Additional developments include:
    • Today, new utilities and state-wide energy efficiency programs are committing to make energy data available to their customers via the Green Button standard, including: Seattle City Light, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Green Mountain Power,  Wake Electric, Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company, Hawai'i Electric Light Company, and Hawaii Energy.
    • To ensure interoperability of the broad range of Green Button deployments across the nation, a public-private partnership of UCAIug, Underwriters Laboratory, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Energy announced today they have initiated Green Button Certification efforts.
    • Technology company Pivotal Labs has collaborated with NIST and EnergyOS to provide OpenESPI, an open source implementation of the Green Button standard.
    • In support of the President's goal to cut energy waste in buildings, the District of Columbia’s Department of General Services and New City Energy have implemented a solution to use the Green Button standard to benchmark the energy usage of over 400 municipal buildings in the District.
    • A new coalition of technology companies, Mission:Data, announced the formation of an effort to advance consumers’ secure and easy access to their own energy data, including via Green Button.
  • New industry-led effort to provide consumers and first-responders with information about power outages:  Today, a number of electric utilities and technology companies agreed to the development and use of a voluntary open standard for the publishing of power outage and restoration information.  The commitment of utilities to publish their already public outage information as a structured data in an easy-to-use and common format, in a consistent location, will make it easier for a wide set of interested parties—including first responders, public health officials, utility operations and mutual assistance efforts, and the public at large—to make use of and act upon this important information, especially during times of natural disaster or crisis.
    • Utilities announcing their intent to develop and use this standard and publish their outage and restoration information include: Duke Energy, BGE, ComEd, PECO, SDG&E, Southern California Edison, and National Grid.
    • Utility vendor iFactor Consulting announced its intent to support the standard in its software.
    • Google announces its intent to use the open outage data in its Crisis Maps and other Crisis response products.
  • Cities publishing open building energy performance data in a standard format to aid benchmarking and promote efficiency: Today, the cities of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington D.C. are announcing that they will use the Department of Energy’s open source Standard Energy Efficiency Data (SEED) platform to publish the data collected through their benchmarking disclosure programs. SEED is a free, user-friendly, web-enabled software application that helps organizations easily aggregate, clean, track, and share data on the energy performance of large groups of buildings.


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