Green Button paves way for new commercial energy tools

The Green Button is going viral. A growing number of utilities and technology vendors have committed to using and extending the program to give residential and commercial energy users secure access to their energy usage data.

By downloading energy data in a simple, universal format, the Green Button program is designed to encourage innovation among third-party developers to build energy management applications and platforms.

First launched in January - and championed by former White House chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra - the initial list of supporters included mostly California utilities, with a total of more than 12 million energy customers. Last week’s announcement added nine more utilities, including American Electric Power, Austin Energy, Baltimore Gas and Electric, CenterPoint Energy, Commonwealth Edison, NSTAR, PECO, Reliant and Virginia Dominion Power, which together bring an additional 15 million customers.

IT and service providers also have embraced the Green Button, including Itron, OPower, Oracle, Silver Spring Networks, Belkin, Efficiency 2.0, EnergySavvy, FirstFuel, Honest Buildings, Lucid, Plotwatt, Schneider-Electric, Simple Energy and Sunrun.

While programmes first introduced by San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric have been directed at residential households, a number of technology providers, including Oracle, FirstFuel and Schneider Electric, are eyeing the commercial and industrial market.

“Access to information and creating an open architecture interface for commercial users is what the Green Button is about,” said Paul Hamilton, VP of government affairs at Schneider Electric, in an interview.

With the initiative, the company can develop building and energy management products with a common protocol to help aggregate data sources into business dashboards and actionable insight, Hamilton noted.

“We’re still very early in the process … and we hope to engage our commercial customers about the tools available to them,” he said. Schneider Electric plans to launch an updated product offering for energy management and demand response in the next month.

The White House and Energy Department also announced last week an “Apps for Energy Challenge” for software developers to build new apps for mobile phones, computers, tablets and software programs based on Green Button data. The contest begins April 5, offering $100,000 in cash prizes with the best app ideas featured on

Tendril, a longtime supporter of the Green Button, has launched helping consumers upload their energy data, browse energy management applications, and give tips on energy efficiency.

Previously, Tendril opened its cloud platform to third-party developers to take advantage of real-time data from utilities to build smart grid applications, automate energy consumption and communicate with electric vehicles.

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