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What is Green Button?

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It’s very possible that you haven’t heard of green button. But you should, because this (or something like it) is the future of energy data.

What is it?

Green Button is a secure way to get your energy usage information electronically.

It began in January 2012 in response to a White House directive for utility companies to provide electronic access to their customers’ energy data in a standard format. To date, 50+ utilities and electricity suppliers have signed on.

The initiative is an industry-led effort to provide customers with utility data (energy use information) in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format. Customers are able to securely download their own detailed energy information with the click of a [green] button at their utility’s website.

Why?

The purpose? Empower customers with data. (Hooray!) Or, to easily share your data with companies you do business with… energy-efficiency consultants, for example.

When Green Button is fully implemented, the goal is that consumers will be able to take advantage of a growing array of services to help them manage their energy data and save money.

Soapbox moment: the more readily available utility data is to customers and the energy consultants they work with, the more we can all efficiently monitor and manage energy consumption to make smarter data-driven decisions about our buildings.

This can’t happen soon enough.

The marketplace is exploding with energy management services and software, and the opportunities to improve our existing buildings are so vast, that there’s room for plenty more growth.

We’re excited about these type of programs because getting utility data is oftentimes a hurdle. Here’s a sample of PG&E’s setup for data sharing, powered by Green Button. Pretty slick.

Can I use it now for my building?

It depends on where your buildings are. Here’s a list of some utilities that have committed and are participating (spoiler alert, if you’re reading this in Omaha… OPPD is not on the list.)

But the most powerful thing about Green Button data (at least for commercial buildings) isn’t what you can do with it. The potential power is in allowing energy customers to easily share their utility data with the people who need it to make buildings better, set realistic energy budgets, and see how we can all improve.

We currently live in a time where it’s realistic for a homeowner to have their alarm system also monitoring temperature, lights, door locks, cameras and more. It’s only a matter of time until those things become mainstream and scaled up for the commercial market on a larger scale. So keep an eye out for the Green Button icon. It’s out there now, if you’re looking for it, but will likely become more prevalent in the near future.