The Green Button Initiative is gaining traction with the launch of Green Button Connect, a web portal launched by energy-focused software developer, Tendril. One side of the site serves consumers who can upload their green button data and try out different applications to make sense of it. The other side of the site serves developers who want to develop applications for these consumers to use.
The voluntary Green Button Initiative, launched in 2011 by then-U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, asks utility companies to standardize consumer energy consumption data, and to make that data file available to each utility customer.
“Consumer should have access to their own energy usage information,” Chopra said at the initiative’s launch. So far, about 10 million utility customers in California have that access, and utilities in Texas and Maryland have publicly committed to the initiative.
However, “Data by itself is not going to liberate consumers,” says Kent Dickson, Chief Technology Officer at Tendril.
“We need developers to give consumers tools for using the data, and we need to give consumers choices in which applications make sense for them. Green Button Connect is the common place for developers and consumers to go to work on making that happen.”
Green Button Connect currently features two apps for consumers to use in making sense of their home energy use. Simple Energy takes an interactive gaming approach. The application says it “enables people to become more engaged with their own energy consumption by comparing their use with friends and neighbors on social platforms where they’re already spending time: Facebook, email and mobile apps.”
Tendril’s own application, Energy Insight, presents energy use data in easy-to-read charts that can be displayed in hourly, daily, monthly intervals, and those charts can be easily updated and sorted.
But clearly there is momentum behind the initiative. In late January, Tendril hosted an event in New York where, in 24 hours, teams of programmers jammed out prototype apps to use Green Button Data for home energy monitoring and analysis. Some 240 application developers have registered to use the Tendril platform through Green Button Connect, and at least 50 applications are in active development, according to Dickson.
Currently, the Green Button Initiative is focused on getting home energy use data to consumers in a useable form, but future developments hold even more promise. For example, applications are expected to come online that will suggest conservation actions based on usage data, and even make some simple decisions for you. Tendril is currently in a partnership with BMW in a project to allow home energy management systems to optimize the recharging of BMW’s forthcoming ActiveE electric vehicle.