The Green Button
This past Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of being on the judges panel at the NYC Cleanweb Hackathon at NYU ITP. There were thirteen hacks presented to the judges. Of them, probably half had incorporated the "green button" for getting your utility data into their app.
The Green Button is an initiative promoted by Aneesh Chopra, the CTO of the United States. In a speech last fall, he challenged the utility industry to come up with a simple way to allow consumers to access their utility data. Last week, three big California utilities announced they had made the Green Button available on their websites.
And by sunday, the green button was in a half a dozen web and mobile apps that had been created over the weekend. This is the kind of innovation that gets me excited. The Green Button is like OAuth for energy data. It is a simple standard that the utlities can implement on one side and web/mobile deveopers can implement on the other side. And the result is a ton of information sharing about energy consumption and in all liklihood energy savings that result from more informed consumers.
The Green Button follows on the success of the Blue Button, a similar initiative that allows veterans to get at their medical data.
I'm a big fan of simplicity and open standards to unleash a lot of innovation. APIs and open data aren't always simple concepts for end users. Green Buttons and Blue Buttons are pretty simple concepts that most consumers will understand. I'm hoping we soon see Yellow Buttons, Red Buttons, Purple Buttons, and Orange Buttons too.
Let's get behind these open data initiatives. Let's build them into our apps. And let's pressure our hospitals, utilities, and other institutions to support them. I'm going to reach out to ConEd, the utility in NYC, and find out when they are going to add Green Button support to their consumers data. I hope it is soon.
I’m waiting for the Democracy Button.
Yes, and for each and every issue I get to press my Button and so does everyone else. We could all have just pressed our Buttons on SOPA and PIPA. No more ‘representation’. Welcome to the world of self representation. It’s the natural extension of the ‘reach’ proposition.Democracy needs disrupting. The existing model of ‘representation’ is of the past. It came to exist due to the limitations of technology. Times have changed.
there’s still a long way for that button to pop up.. unfortunately.but also, I wouldnt want an on-deman voting world: issues take time to be properly read and understood.maybe we should start measuring our politicians first.. then maybe we can set some actions and they will understand.
It’s a rallying call to arms…we are each our own agent.
Congratulations, you just erased 100% of the progress made in abolishing slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, school choice, and a host of other issues.Welcome to the tyranny of the 51%, brought to you by the “democracy button”.Do you REALLY think that our founding fathers insisted upon a representative republic because they were concerned with the technology used to capture purely democratic votes?
Luddite revisionists may make an appointment to see their representative, that’s assuming there’s space in the diary to be squeezed in between lobbyists and PR policy makers.
I have never had any problem finding a way to speak to my representatives. The way to get the money out of politics is to get politics out of money, but redistribution via the 536 masterminds in D.C. is tough to overturn in a day….
It’s not a Beatles song but…., …reach out and touch somebody’s hand, make this world a better place… if you can
i forget who said it, but one of my favorite quotes on democracy vs republic is that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. a republic is the same, but the sheep has an eternal right to bear arms.
Dear Disqus, while I agree that comment should never be ’empty’ there ought to be a way of entirely deleting a post put in the wrong place.
Jason – agree wholeheartlyI think SOPA was a good opening for self representation.How do we use the social network to bring about change> constitutional amendments
sure can’t we start the hash tag – #fredwilson2012Just kidding 🙂
Barack – “Yes we can”.Fred – “Press your button”.
And I’m waiting for a ‘common sense’ button. On that thought, a simplicity button would be nice too. Is this website/tool/app simple enough.. simple yes/no!
Let’s put the ‘common sense’ button on politicians’ websites.
That would make my day. Press it and you get better politicians….
A Button for how Government uses our money would be welcome.Awaiting the day they realise it should be seen as Investing – not simply Spending.A whole different perspective…
Large ones out in the street so when you tap one career politicians salaries get lower. So many times lower, they can’t run again.
What about someone coming up with a Button server ? All kinds of customisable buttons for the various types of data that the Button server is allowed to accesses. And it should be government funded in all countries but is not allowed to interfere.
Great initiative that should enable innovations in Energy Management, a field that needs it.I’d like an App that tells me how much energy I use every day & how to reduce it.
Thank you – Thank you This removes our single biggest problem to scalability – We have been negotiating wth various utilities for months to make this happen – Roll on the bandwagon.if interested my most recent post on the subject was http:http://kwiqly.blogspot.com/…See the very last paragraph!
I want a button that allows me to zap anyone who attempts to hack into my accounts. I am sick and tired of having to change my passwords.I am sick and tired of having hundreds of logins and passwords and going for months not having to care but then from time to time being forced to actually remember a login and password. I am tired of having to read some stupid word and retype it to prove that I am a human.In a world of instant information I would like not to have to worry about viruses, bugs, and hackers.I am tired of sifting through my spam to realize that besides all the emails for porn and other stupid crap, I find emails that are obviously not spam, or at least were not the week before.I would love ONE software that I could load on my computer that would scan my computer, organize files, automatically recognize the sites I visit and organize them, then on those which I visit to download monthly statements it would automatically do that for me and set up files to store the downloads.Secure, simple, all encompassing, and naturally intelligent.
Take a look at LastPass password manager. I’ve been using it for over a year now to manage all my online logins. Works brilliantly once you get the hang of it both on my PC and Android phone.
Thanks!I realized last week that me and the internet/my computer are now joined at the hip and since joining up with the AVC community the number of logins and passwords I have have easily doubled and I find myself ill prepared to manage everything and thus I really get no benefit from the broadening of my internet exploration.Got to get everything organized…
I call yellow button for beer and spirits consumption data.
not sure i want to know that 😉
Your analysis, or dare I say urinalysis, _is_ big data.
Very cool initiative indeed. (although access to live metering data is preferable nonetheless.)This essentially should allow demand-side energy startups to work directly with customers without having to work with Utilities, hence lowering the barriers to market entry. The question then becomes whether this will see widespread adoption.Seeing as energy consumption data is one of the essential data feeds, maybe it’s worth a thought to make the supply of this data in a standard format mandatory for all utilities.Anyway, where could we find the hacks of the CleanWeb Hackathon?
here is some info on ithttp://news.cnet.com/8301-1…
This is an excellent idea. I was just sharing with a friend over lunch yesterday that I pore over my cell bill to make sure me and my family don’t go over our minutes and focus on a plan that’s best for me…. at the same time, I get my electric bill for $500+ dollars and don’t even question it. I have no idea what resources in my home are gobbling the most energy, and there are no “plans” for me to optimize my usage (and cost) of energy. I would love for that “feature” to be available to me (actually, for both electric and natural gas…)
Exactly what I also said I wanted in an App. The Hydro companies have been ripping us off & implementing snail pace energy savings capabilities.
Peter and I got a $950 bill from our house up North while I was away which is $450 more then what it was last year. We’ve been complaining that there is an issue with our meter for 5 years but to no avail. They are supposedly going to send out a specialist to check it all out – i would LOVE some independent way to to verify the data. Always the problem with monopolies.
Don’t get me started on Ontario Hydro stuff…Last month, after fixing a power outage in our area, they ignored a broken ground wire that was staring them in the face next to the pole where they were working. That sent 300 Volts into our home and it illuminated all the light bulbs like projector lights & fried a couple of surge protectors. When I called asking them to take responsibility for the damages, they didn’t want to hear any of it, and suggested I call my home insurance instead.- posted via http://engag.io
Hi William, Do you know what your $KwH cost is? In Connecticut we are paying close to $.22US/KwH
We pay a lot less than that, from 6-11 cents depending if it’s peak or off-peak. I think we sell Ontario energy to the US. http://www.ontario-hydro.co…- posted via http://engag.io
I’m on the board of my building in northern NJ (10 minutes from Midtown) and signed up in December for 8.14 cents fixed for the next year.
Are you sure the $.0814 is the all in delivered rate?My $.22 rate is approx .10 or .11 generation ( Energy) w/ the balance attributable to delivery
Roughly in the US the average cost at the plant is 3 cents per kWh for coal and 2 cents for nuke. The wholesale price on the grid is about 0.5 cents. E.g., see (maybe updated annually): http://www.nei.org/filefold…Of course the greenies want to claim that evil, greedy, filthy humans are destroying the precious, delicate planet and want to “bankrupt” the coal plants, see electric bills “skyrocket” (extra credit for knowing the source of the quotes) and, instead, want 100% all-natural, clean, pristine, pure, renewable, sustainable energy and have costs at the plant about 50 cents/kWh.The ideas of the greenies are so destructive and irrational that it fits to suspect that the greenies have been funded by foreign enemies of the US.
I will double check the next bill but I believe charge is ~4 cents additional. Totaling to 12+ cents inclusive of generation and delivery.Thank you NJ electricity deregulation!
Woah, $500? Are you running a server farm out of your home? That’s 3x what I pay.
ok, I’m exaggerating…. a bit. In the summer months, our bill does hit $500/mo – we have dual A/C units for the upstairs and downstairs. Other than that, we’re usually a bit under $200. But I do wonder where the $$$ is going to – while we don’t have a server farm here, we do have 6 computers running pretty much all the time, and your typical 2 dozen+ devices charging. I would love to know where the “hogs” are in my house so we could be more efficient.
66% of home energy use is heating (space & water), cooling, and lighting. http://www1.eere.energy.gov…
yup – thanks for the link, been there. We’ve spent a lot of time (and money) upgrading windows, doors, insulation, wiring, etc. New water heater and heater 2 years ago. Almost all incadescent bulbs have been replaced with flourescent. I do work from home when I’m not on the road, so I expect it to be a little higher than when nobody is home, but at the end of the day, it’s a lot of room to keep warm/cool and lots of electronics.
I once did a quick worksheet where I added up all of the big loads in our home;Pool Pump kW X Hrs on per day X 30 days/month (you can use the rating on the appliance as a proxy) – or for 110 loads that have a plug you can get a cheap meter http://www.killawattplus.com Same for other appliances or motors that run for a consistent amount of time/day/month; Dehumidifier, A/C, Cable boxes or other Average # of lights on per day per hr X watt rating of bulbs etc.When I did this – I was able to get to 90%+ of our monthly usage.Adjust from there
That’s a bit crazy from the appliance side. Shouldn’t that be something required to be shared by appliance makers so that the apps work better.
there are quite a few web apps that are trying to address this but they have to go utility by utility to get the data. i’m hoping the green button fixes that
An app with a green button from data from your electric meter can provide just aggregate data and, thus, can’t and won’t tell you very much about where in your house the electric power is being used. Yes, I know: In principle the power factor might tell you how much power was going for inductive loads, e.g., electric motors, versus resistive loads.It would be much better just to go around the house and get a list of everything that is drawing electric power and for each device on the list see about how much power it draws and estimate the number of hours per day the device is on.Biggies are electric house heating or cooling, electric water heating, and refrigerators/freezers. For more, get a meter that you can use to measure the power for each device. Add up the power figures, look up the kWh you are getting charged for, and see if the ‘accounts balance’. If so, then you will know where the power is going and what changes you can make.One of the very best things the US could do for its economy, competitiveness, cost of living, and standard of living is to (1) lock down some rock solid engineering for nukes and (2) deploy nukes for as much of our electric base load as possible. We should get the cost at the nuke plants under 1 cent per kWh,; e.g., see http://www.nei.org/filefold…The rest of the cost to users, then, would be from distribution, which for houses and farms is comparatively large.We need some rock solid engineering and then calm down the anxieties of the neurotics and throttle the ‘save the planet’ greenies who want to make their careers getting the neurotics all afraid and then shooting the US economy in the gut.This business of the US being totally stupid about energy and the economy is COSTLY and DUMB. I was thrilled to hear Santorum at the last Republican debate claim that he saw the housing bubble coming, clearly early on. I wish, I WISH, I very much, desperately WISH our media had made the situation crystal clear instead of concentrating on, say, “Brit” or whatever. A few really dumb policies here and a few more there and after a while it adds up to a really sick economy that ruins lives and kills people. The housing bubble and the resulting, highly destructive Great Recession were JUST serious self-inflected injuries for which we have no good excuse at all, none, zip, zilch, zero. We gotta STOP that stuff.Just what is it about stupid and dumb that so many people like so much?
Yes. Turning Electrical things “digital” is a big opportunity. Is there a company that makes devices or sensors that capture the energy that is consumed by various electrical appliances & aggregates it into a user report? – posted via http://engag.io
Well, of course the meters needed for the measurement have long existed. Now just need to give each meter an IP address, a protocol, an API, and a connection to a LAN! Maybe don’t really need an IP address but just a MAC address! Until we get IPv6, we stand to be short on IP addresses!I would try to sell into some businesses and industries before trying to sell into single family homes.There is a ‘control’ issue: Some electric bills are based on ‘peak loads’. Soooooo, the ‘control’ problem is to get the power really need while minimizing the peak load.. Can do this? Yes, in principle because when getting the power really need typically there is still some freedom in just when what devices are on; so, the ‘control’ problem is how to exploit the freedom.So, broadly, ‘stagger’ the on periods of some of the devices. Also commonly electric motors draw a lot of power during start up and, thus, could raise the peak power. So, stagger the start up of electric motors. If have a separate freezer and refrigerator, then try to let one of them run while the other one is off. E.g., in a house, there are relatively large electric motors in washing machines and dish washers; so, try to stagger when those motors turn on. Also for an electric dryer, it has an electric motor AND a big resistive load for the heat, so be careful when run the dryer compared with other heavy loads.Simple versions of the control could be simple, but there should be some worthwhile savings from more advanced controllers in more advanced situations.But, I would expect: (1) Could not easily get a big competitive advantage or ‘barrier to entry’. (2) For home owners, mostly a ‘nice to have’ instead of a ‘must have’. (3) For high end users, the whole sale and service would be complicated with a long ‘selling cycle’. (4) Due to the sales and support, it would be a labor intensive business. (5) I wouldn’t see big profit margins.Generally people already have enough to do without taking on a part time job fiddling 24 x 7 with the timing of their air conditioner and washing machine. I wouldn’t invest in it!I see the main solution being dirt cheap power, “too cheap to meter”. So, pay a flat rate per month for the connection and then draw all the power the connection can supply without more cost. How to get power too cheap to meter? Some solid engineering for nukes with the greenies diverted to saving some worm in a mud hole in, say, Africa. I’d even be okay with the greenies eating the worms! Especially eating the worms raw!
Have you seen Control4? It’s promising.- posted via http://engag.io
No. My depth in the particular application of monitoring how houses use electric power is tapped out!
A simple metric that helps inform the consumer is extremely valuable. Even if you want to direct your dollars in the right way, without the data, it is impossible to make smart decisions (as opposed to just guesses).
Blue for HealthGreen for EnergyRed for FoodPurple for EntertainmentWhite for ActivismYellow for CommerceOrange for Travel
something like that
I like this a lot.I would call for more communications along with more data. They go hand in hand.No-one on the street knows about the ‘green button’. Maybe developers but not the users though.Change generally, and markets for these apps will happen quicker if the consumers become part of the lobby for change, not just the developer community.Market the possibility before the product and community will follow faster.
i didn’t know about the green button until the hackathon when i saw it in app after app after app. you are so right about communications.
Communications are definitely important, but I wouldn’t say that “no one” on the street has heard of the green button. The cleantech/energy community is HUGE and is well aware of this, but they don’t engage much on communities like AVC. The concept is also only about 5 months old….
i think arnold is talking about people like my mom or my daughter
You’re right he probably is. Does your Mom know what OAuth is though? You both are right that a much larger communication effort will have to be made by Utilities for this to take hold of any kind. Google Power Meter and Microsoft Hohm are great examples of this not taking off because of a lack of sustained communications. They each had big launches, but no sustained comm efforts afterwards.
she doesn’t know what OAuth is. but she uses it on Twitter and other services. that’s the power of the Green Button. she doesn’t know what APIs and open data is. but she’d grok a green button
My mom, now 92, doesn’t know about any of this. But she kvetched at me for years as a child to turn off the lights and not be wasteful of energy or money. She would get this is in a second. I’m going to email this to her and test out my belief.
NOT ABOUT BUTTON.ABOUT WHAT CAN DO WITH BUTTON.SOON AS CONSUMER CAN USE BUTTON FOR SOMETHING, WILL WANT AND UNDERSTAND IT.
@fredwilson:disqusYes, our parents, our children and us, the tech crowd.Movements are only really ‘huge’ when they cross over and engage the mass market and the other deep verticals of enthusiasts.I’m really excited about this button. About cutting through the BS around energy measurement in general. I think everyone who has a electric or gas bill, which is everyone, will be interested. This is a natural communications bridge between the clean tech vertical, tech and the mas market.
I am in fact on the “street” and have never heard of this until just now. I think it’s a fantastic idea btw.
Success of any device, system or process that offers a way for people to save energy will have to overcome the “program the VCR effect” or whatever you want to call it. If it’s not dead simple it won’t be widely adopted. Personally I feel the market for energy savings (from an “invest in” point of view) is in companies that target business as opposed to consumers.
Increasing awareness of Cleanweb and now Green Button are primary motivators for us producing this hackathon tour. It’s great to see you spreading these concepts here with the AVC community. As we continue to reach out to developers, designers, entrepreneurs, media and investors, the dialog and momentum will certainly grow. We can also expect a increasing number of apps developed over weekends as witnessed in NYC. I’m hopeful some of these apps and teams will develop into companies that will ultimately engage the mass market and blow this thing wide open!!
It was a ‘lil green button from my messaging ASP, IrisWireless, that led me to Multex in 2002. The thought was to tie the financial data to a communications event in different (but consistent) ways. That led to the CSO job. Which led to the sale to Reuters. Funny how things develop.
that’s very funny
It is why there should be one button for all data. You can figure out what kind from context.Colored buttons of all sorts are harder to evangelize
And you can’t rely on color because it’s not accessible.
You may be right Shana.I’m still amazed that as informed as I think I am, I was clueless about this. Cleantech has broad appeal to everyone at a bunch of levels. It’s positioned poorly to the mass market, like tech in the old day. Whether you want to to save the planet or save a dollar, you care.
Of course, but I don’t think the button is a cleantech/cleanweb specific idea, and therefore the button should be any color, as long as it is round and contains that symbol.Much easier to understand the data button than a “cleantech” button
YES.UNIVERSAL BUTTON FOR “GET MY DATA. IT MINE.”
“GET MY DATA. IT MINE.”Thats what you think!You may be showing your dinosaur root on that statement.:-)
HUMANS EVENTUALLY WAKE UP TO FAUSTIAN BARGAIN THEM MAKE WITH FACEBOOK, GOOGLE.DOWNLOAD MY DATA BUTTON IS GOOD FIRST STEP.
I think Warren Buffett and our Grandmothers would disagree. Green and Blue Stamps did just fine in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s!
Did they do ok with 8 or 9 stamps (also, what are green and blue stamps)
Green and Blue Chip Stamps were the mid 20th century version of checking in via foursquare. Both were loyalty programs.Here is a bit of background on Green Stamps. http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…Warren Buffett made a good portion of his wealth from using the cash cow Blue Chip Stamps in the 70’s. Here is a link.http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…If you are younger than 35 you probably never saw these programs. They were on the way out in the early 80s.
Excuse my ignorance in these matters but serious question?Why can’t we have a single standard like OAuth such that when you authorize access to your data on a given API service a selection box pops up letting you tick off which pieces of your data you want exposed by that providing service to the consuming service on your behave?That would provide a single universal process that consumers could get use to and reuse somewhat effortlessly.
I’m pro the o-auth type standard. I just think creating multiple color buttons for different types of data with the same symbol (when essentially you’re doing the same thing, managing data) is a bad idea. Just keep a round button with that symbol and have it be whatever color you want. How am I supposed to remember that xyz shade of blue is “veteran health button” while magenta is “nonveteran health button” while three shade of paler than forest is “energy button”Too confusing. Just button = data.Make the symbol universal, irrelevant of what is behind it.
Totally agree. the symbol is what needs to be standard, not the color. Just like transit symbols are standard. Also, color blind people won’t know the difference between a red or green button. I also think the icon is ugly. Obviously NOT designed by someone who understands usability. It looks like the tray on the bottom is blocking whatever is coming down. It should look like data is flowing down, not being blocked.
Maybe the us government needs to hire interaction specialists?- posted via http://engag.io
Or we could just say buttons are links to data, whatever color they are. Or standardize on blue, underlined text.
Kind of like going from a “yellow ribbon” to all the different colored ribbons we have today.Then you have the issue of utility companies going to “balance billing” where you pay the same amount throughout the year and once a year your usage is recalculated and then your monthly payments are recalculated.Then you realize that the utility companies are not reading your meter on a monthly basis.
For consumers to adopt in mass you need Awareness + Cost-savings. California has high consumer awareness but a lower cost/consumer compared to many other states (think air-conditioning and heating costs). Energy Cost will be the key to adoption for most of the nation.
True, except with items that are just ‘right’, especially ones that impact the environment and connect people together around common causes.Think recycling. We all do it. It’s a pain. It’s the right thing. No-one makes a dime on it really as a consumer.Think littering. No-one does it. Because there is a fine? Because it’s the right thing to do.No belittling savings in any way but if I was driving the messaging I would carefully consider the broadest appeal as well as the specificity of the saving.
I agree, in that cities with recycling culture already have high awareness. For the rest to follow (voluntarily), you’ll need cost-savings.
Yes, lower consumption per capita (about 50% of national standards) BUT CA electricity prices are much higher. Electricity tarrifs are tiered by usage and the top two tiers are $.26 and $.34 per kwH so there are good market based incentives to conserve. The first kwHr’s you can save through efficiency are the highest cost so you get the most return for your efforts.
I was at a guy’s house (actually it’s more like a castle—really—completely made of stone) this weekend who had an app on his Control-4 system that broke down his energy usage in real-time. By room: Great room, kitchen, basement pool room, etcBy outlet: Plasma TV, Refrigerator 2, HVAC 1, etcIt even imported the current cost of electricity from our utility and had a running “meter” of the cost, cost/hour, etc of any breakdown you wanted. Also allowed for solar panels and other “inputs” of energy….crazy stuff.It was pretty cool and he said it helped him figure out his waste pretty quickly. Oh, and a bourbon button please.
jim says that is the yellow button (higher up in the thread)
How much did it cost him to put all that in place, and what was the ROI time span before starting to reap the benefits?
It was a $199 app….but he was on control4 from the beginning, so all that was put in place in terms of having it all wired up. He doesn’t use it much except showing off the gadget when people come over….which is pretty entertaining lol
I checked Control4 & it’s quite a line-up of adult toys. – posted via http://engag.io
I agree totally on simplicity and openness. People will alter their actions, if they receive data easily.You have to love the pace of adoption.
Transparency and openness are the new hotness, and we as consumers have the Internet to thank. We’re lucky in that the amount of knowledge freely available to us is far greater than any generation preceding. That knowledge allows us to make better informed choices, and allows us to hold organisations (and as the SOPA/PIPA protests showed – possibly governments) accountable for their actions.I see the green button as an extension to that. Sites including it are becoming part of the decision making process their consumers are engaged in. By giving users access to their utility data, those users can make truly informed decisions (and those companies are less likely to get bitten in the butt with accidental discovery/disclosure). With perfect knowledge comes perfect competition.
the new hotness!
Disclosure – was writing our new “about us” page last night, which may have something to do with it. Transparency is one of our key values.Hotness may have been overstating things, though….
nah. it’s super hot in my mind right now
Interesting …some observations about getting the Green Button to work.1. Utility Biz is highly regulated and very fragmented – There are 50 states, with at least 50 department’s of public utility (over sight/ rate approving), and there are something like 1,700 different electrical generation utilities in the US, many are rural co-ops,2. Meters and Infrastructure – for the Green Button to work – it has to talk w/ a reasonably smart meter at the home (presumably open); historically many meters were dumb – they were read or polled monthly. Recently many utilities have started or announced plans to upgrade their meter fleet (very costly (May be upwards of $1K ??) for each utility grade smart meter),it takes a long time (think years) to change out the fleet, and there may not be open standards across all utilities. 2A. Additional thoughts on smart meters> Many of the utilities decided to deploy their own (closed) communication network vs 3G, wifi or other technology widely available and built out> Not all smart meters are created equal – I once read a study that talked about WHY utilities were adopting new meters; i. Utilities wanted to be able to read/ poll the meter vs sending out a meter reader ( person)ii. Utilities wanted to know about outages – alert and help them diagnose where the break is.iii. remote connect and disconnect.Nothing about exposing data to the home owner3. I think this is great, there was a big push back in 2008 when President Obama took office, DOE invested a fair amount of stimulus money on smart grid initiatives. Companies like GE, Google and MSFT were all getting on board – I was sad to see Google dropped its focus in this area when Eric Schmidt left the CEO role.4. Some of the home automation companies Crestron and Control4 introduced products as well.I truly like the idea of being able to read and control my thermostat remotely from my phone, put up a geo fence around my home so that when I am 20 mins away – the heat turns on.
why does the green button have to work with smart meters to produce useful data?i understand that to get to device level granularity, we need to dig deeper. but it seems to be that unleashing the high level utility data will be quite useful as a place to start
Fred, you are right that this is a great place to start. Glad to see you engage with the energy community as well.While smart meters are very important they don’t have much to do with the green button.As for device level granularity, Belkin bought a little known startup called Zensi in mid 2010 that has a CS based algorithm so that you could plug one device into an outlet and it would tell you the load for every single device in your house based on the load signature. They have developed tech for doing the same for water. Expect to see something come out of this sometime in 2012. I was sad to see them get bought so early (happens sometimes when the tech is based on University research, UW) but it is truly game-changing tech.
Just spoke to our contacts at Con Edison. They will definitely be at the table when we do this again (hopefully later this year). Thanks again for helping to judge and publicizing the cleanweb opportunity. My rundown of the event and what it means for the NYC tech community is here: http://www.nyuentrepreneur.org
Well, 2a might force innovation for consumers. If the smart meter is there, it is just a reason for someone to hack it…
Good luck Fred – it seems like a noble endeavor. I don’t know how good your connections with ConEd are, but if you can get them to do anything resembling this let us know. I’ve found them to be one of the more backward companies that I’ve interacted with (see their e-billing, with both in-house and outsourced systems that don’t talk to each other, or their outsourced invoices that don’t send in the email), and they could definitely use some prodding in the right direction.If they’re starting a data initiative and need devs, there are plenty in the city.
Open data is coming to all utilities sooner or later and I’m excited to have @aneeshchopra:twitter as U.S. CTO lighting the path to openness. He’s in the unique position to encourage participation across industries to make data accessible.Hopefully utility execs warm to the idea soon as I doubt they want Texas and California utilities getting all the good press.
Good article. That is good to know.
I don’t want multiple buttons. I want one button that singles that.Everyone should have the right to import and export their important data. Having one button saying :your data is yours to move around to find the best way to understand it.
Mr.Wilson while you are progressive in the mind you are forgetting that you are dealing with decades long plaque that exists in many sectors of the economy.I am also talking to ConEd about a partnership that would be beneficial to all stakeholders, but so far they have not budged as our startup is just like plankton to them.New York for all it’s progressive mind is still very far back when it comes to the environment and resource utilization. The only reason we are not last is due to the MTA forcing a good number of people to use public transit systems.Most buildings in the city misuse energy in ways that is appalling and sadly to many it is not a concern.Just seeing a display that shows your consumption is dollars and cents is a good motivator for people to conserve energy, but to make that happen the ConEd’s of the world have to be willing to not keep c-blocking. The old mindset that if people conserve energy means our revenues will fall is not a sustainable viable model.Thanks for maybe getting some folks aware of what it means to be green beyond apps. Maybe some day USV will be investing in green technology startups that can have the network effect.
everything you say is truebut it doesn’t have to be true foreveri’d like to help change it
Well I think there is a possibility that we maybe working together to make that change happen this year. We shall see…I have a bigger concern for the current rates of consumption and the energy needed to sustain that rate of consumption. So everything done is a good step in the right direction.
Good Luck – Utilities just work so S L O W
But that’s what’s so cool about getting this data into the hands of the customers: the utilities aren’t your only way anymore to get anything done. you can go to the customers directly.
Knowledge is the first step to action IMO. And action doesn’t have to be equated only to savings.Think about recycling. No one really saves money by going through the bother of separating glass, plastic and paper and schlepping them to the recycling barrels. We do this because it’s the right thing to do.
“We do this because it’s the right thing to do”I wonder if that’s actually the case. And if so for what percentage of people.I think of the reasons that people do this may be more to avoid a negative feeling that they get if they don’t do the recycling. Of course if you ask them they won’t say that. Avoiding negatives is the reason (once again in my opinion I haven’t seen any research on this) for doing other things as well.Take tipping the maid when you leave a hotel after a few days that you have never even seen. I’m not sure people do this because they care about the maid (although some may). I think people leave a tip because it’s behavior that is, at this point, programmed into us to do by society. So if we don’t do it we feel like a bad person because it is something that we’ve been taught to do. At least if you have a conscience. Take this situation of tipping when you get takeout food. My niece was working at a restaurant last year and my sister asked if I tipped her when I picked up the order. I said “what?” no, I never tip on takeout food. She told me that my niece gets tips, not from everyone but from many people. So now I always feel bad when I get takeout and don’t leave a tip.I bring up these things because I think it’s important to understand human behavior if you want to get some kind of change. That means not always relying on the reason that people say why they do what they do. That’s what I have usually found.
Understanding behavior is key. I couldn’t agree more.I read over my comment and questioned about whether I am being too cute on my belief that most people want to do the right thing. I don’t think so. Just like I believe that most people don’t want to steal at retail.My one golden rule for business design is to build for the majority not for the corner case. Sure you need to be careful but not at the expense of the many. At the early stage do you really care whether the motivation is pure or crowd behavior? What you care about is not to market guilt. You need to market the positive motivation not the fear of exclusion. I don’t do things not to feel bad. I do things to feel good. I start with that as the general mass thinking and whittle it down from there.
“Just like I believe that most people don’t want to steal at retail”Agree. But I would say that falls under the same society norms according to whatever social status or group you belong to. For example there are many people that would never ever shoplift (forget whether they fear getting caught or not for a second) but would definitely pad an insurance claim for much more money. Or not point out a mistake on a restaurant tab that was in their favor (and rationalize some reason for not doing so.)”I don’t do things not to feel bad. I do things to feel good.”Agree also. I think that “do things to feel good” is definitely the other reason for the behavior. So we could say:”doing the right thing (makes them feel good || avoids feeling bad)”
“The old mindset that if people conserve energy means our revenues will fall is not a sustainable viable model”Are you sure that’s the case? I don’t know anything in particular about Con-ed but I’ve definitely seen utilities encourage conservation for at least one reason. They don’t want to undertake the expense and fixed cost of putting up new generation plants. At a certain capacity level they need to do this and then they would be less profitable. Not only that but there are things like this as well (allow utilities to cover fixed costs essentially):http://www.facilitiesnet.co…
Great post to see Fred and I think that it was a big boost to the NYC cleantech community that you supported this event! Has it made you rethink cleantech as an investment category at all? I think you’ve been (understandably) skeptical of it in the past (putting it into an all together different set of venture investment opportunities in a post last year). I’m hopeful initiatives like Green Button, Tendril’s APIs, OpenADR (automated demand response), standards development work happening on smart grid, and a bunch of other data oriented initiatives will open up exciting, less capital intensive ways for entrepreneurs to tackle resource challenges.
i like cleanweb but not cleantechits not that i think cleantech is a bad investmentit just doesn’t fit into USV’s approach/strategy/fund size/expertise/culture
i think the two are deeply connected. natural gas and nuclear will disrupt oil and coal, with nuclear being the long-term winner. people don’t regard it as cleantech but it is emission-free and unlike solar and wind and it is actually economically viable for powering cities, which is why it keeps growing. anyway, i think clean web ultimately has to find its way to nuclear power plants. i doubt this problem gets solved in america, because the government here just doesn’t have enough of a clue about the inevitability of nuclear energy. china knows what’s up and so i would expect the real innovation to come out of there. alternatively, amazon and google, but that only can happen if they can invest in nuclear energy. google is wasting their money on solar and wind, probably because of politics, hopefully amazon will step up to the plate but the political environment is such an obstacle. it makes a lot of sense for amazon to do it though, if they can pull it off i think it could be a success even bigger than AWS.
Fukashima to that Kid 🙂
yes that is what all the people who haven’t studied the energy market say. show me a perfect energy source that actually works and i’ll be 100% for it. at the end of the day nuclear is the best on virtually every dimension which is why its usage continues to grow. it is the investment opportunity of a lifetime too, maybe even better than gold (but not for much longer, market is already catching on). countries that try to avoid nuclear pay a lot more for energy, are unable to reduce carbon emissions (because they constantly need to use fossil fuels as backup sources), and, my favorite part, have to import energy from other countries. and what do the countries they have to import energy from usually use? why nuclear, of course. you’ll find people who dispute all this stuff but you can make anything sound wonderful with the magic of government subsidies. anyone who takes a cold hard look at the facts sees the inevitability of nuclear — the only caveat is some miracle technology, which i am all about but i don’t think it you can count on something like that for planning.
The answer is solar furnace tech.Eventually global populations will gravitate back towards the equatorial band of sustainability. The polar spread will have been a passing phase.
well, that is what the pro-death people say. i call them pro-death because what they are basically arguing is that the world cannot use this much energy. and there is some truth to that, if we can nuclear energy. if we don’t ignore nuclear, though, we realize there is more than enough energy to support a more densely populated world with more cities, and that the environmental burden will be less than what it currently is. because the pro-death people want to ignore nuclear, they are basically calling for some type of population control — either explicitly or by making energy so expensive that it happens as a result.for better or worse i still have faith in humanity and believe we will choose nuclear instead of energy starvation (i.e. death).i agree that solar is the most promising outside of nuclear and fossil fuels, it is not a scam like wind basically is. but barring some breakthrough it’s not good enough outside of small things like solar-powered smartphones, laptops, e-readers, etc. and even that assumes you’re in a sunny environment. i love florida but not everyone lives there.
“you’ll find people who dispute all this stuff but you can make anything sound wonderful with the magic of government subsidies.”damn right. that’s why on pure-market terms the economics of nuclear are so disastrous. it’s unsustainable, fuel is nearing depletion really fast and the project time is an unforeseeable 140 years from project initiation to decommissioning. It takes a nuclear power plant 60 years to break even. Would you invest your money for that long a time?
i already invest in nuclear power (via uranium) so clearly the answer to your question is yes, i would invest in it. your numbers are wrong and ignore all the breakthroughs in mini-nuclear power plants. even the big ones china is getting faster and faster at building. agreed, though, that nuclear it is still fairly capital and time intensive which is why we need natural gas as a bridge technology. nuclear also has the highest ROI by a wide margin. it costs a lot but the energy you get out of it beats everything else by a wide margin (except natural gas). so it is profitable and efficient which is why it keeps growing no matter what the haters say. contrast that with solar and wind, which get tons of subsidies and have practically nothing to show for it.
PEBBLE BED REACTORS.MAGNETIC FLYWHEEL BATTERIES.
yup….great and exciting technologies…..flywheels need neodymium, though, which china controls basically the entire current production of and is curbing exports….. hopefully we can get production going elsewhere — another big problem/opportunity…….
I think the real issue with nuclear is we haven’t developed long term computing/programming. (outside of c)We need nuclear to stay safe for a very long time. And we need better ways to spend down energy so we don’t have to store burnt out rods.Meh.
I couldn’t say Shana, but nuclear’s strike rate isn’t very healthy. 1986 Chernobyl2011 Fukashima20?? Who knows where,… but it will happen.
The aftereffects so far of Fukashima seem way more handable than Fukashima.- posted via http://engag.io
Actually I would say the issue is we chose the wrong type of nuclear reactor based on our “need” for weaponized byproducts.Take 5 minutes to watch this: http://vhx.tv/gsiener/share…
Portable energy and plastic are two things that will never go out of style. Oil will be in demand until we have to wait for another round of dinosaurs to decompose and make more.
Hi Kid,Please check out this video. I attended TEDxNewEngland last fall, they had a session called – The Future of Nuclear Power: Getting Rid of Nuclear Waste. The session was led by Richard Lester Head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, he had two of his grad students talking about redesigning a reactor to run on nuclear waste. They got a standing Ovation – worth the 18 minuteshttp://youtu.be/bHJuz5pNQL8
thank you for sending me the link to this! a great video. anyone interested in nuclear should check it out, these folks communicate a lot of stuff about nuclear well.
Well said! Thanks to you too Greg for bringing attention to Cleanweb and the new opportunities it opens up to entrepreneurs. I hope other Cleantech and energy sector companies soon realize the value of participating in grassroots events like @cleanwebhack:twitter and making their APIs available to developers as these supporters of the NYC event have already: @tendrilapi:twitter @genabilityAPI:twitter @brigherplanet:twitter @efficiency20:twitter @3scale:twitter @csrhub:twitter
That’s @brighterplanet:twitter 🙂
Thanks for catching that Andy! (oops) Thanks to engag.io, I caught your comment if a bit later.
As much as I’m excited about applications to utilities (used a smart meter in London years ago — brought great visibility into consumption patterns even though the device itself wasn’t as sophisticated as the ones today are), I’m really happy to hear about the blue button. Right now a typical patient in the US has zero access to their medical information: various doctors they see have slivers of it (mostly as hand-written notes), but no one central, easily searchable, indexed place for everything. All of this data is about the patient, yet patients have no access to it and limited visibility.Here’s hoping that various insurers in the US will adopt the blue button concept promptly.
I have some experience in the electronic medical/health record space. The 2014 EMR Initiative by the Obama administration has caused some great leaps and strides in the industry. Now hospitals and doctors offices are in a scramble to get the Medicare *incentives* before the clock runs out and they start to get *penalized*.
Major energy markets in the US (east coast, Texas, California) have been deregulated (or, in some cases, quasi-deregulated) since the late 1990s. Since that time, there has been little to no transparency in markets, pricing, data, information. As such, true product and service innovation has lagged. The Green Button, along with other cleanweb innovations, will make a huge difference in bringing this industry in to the 21st century. I look forward to the day when we see engaging, exciting energy products and services, and entirely new business models for that matter, for businesses and consumers. The industry needs its iPhone and its Steve Jobs. It is exciting to sense fundamental change in this industry… there are lots of opportunities.
It was great seeing someone of your caliber at the Cleanweb Hackathon and amazing to see you write about the Green Button initative. I have always had an interest in the alternative energy space but like your USV investment logic, I have always thought it to be a market prohibitively expensive to enter as an entrepreneur. This weekend opened my eyes to the fact that cleantech from a hardware space continues to prod on, but the real future at least in the near term is in cleanweb. There are vast datasets just sitting around that, once unlocked, can significantly drive consumer engagement and as you pointed out Green Button does just that. There is still a lot of work to do though given there are holes in the data. And more importantly, as my team(@cleangpa) pointed out this weekend, the data needs to be distilled down into a single metric so that people can begin to have conversations that are apple to apples. For example, if you know the electricity use of the multifamily down the street is 18k kWh/yr, your single family residential is using 6k kWh/yr, while the condo next door only uses 3k, does that give you any relevant information even though you are all part of the same building class and zoning? Additionally, on a building level, comparing absolute value of a school to an office building for instance is very difficult since the school will have more energy strips per room by a factor of 9. That’s why the proliferation of NYC datasets and the green button initiative are so vital. With all this data and the algorithm we implemented, we should be able to distill all household energy consumption (electricity, gas, & oil) to a single comparable metric. Something else I learned this weekend that I would need to verify was that utilities are charging people to make this data available via initiatives like Green Button. The amount is something on the order of $50 a year. Although that is not cost prohibitive it is a deterent to crowd source YOUR OWN data. As to your comment about reaching out to ConEd, I worked closely with Tendril on our app this weekend and they mentioned they either have or are working on a pilot program with them so it might be just around the corner. I am sure however a call from you might make it go from “9 months to 90 days” like Aneesh Chopra said. I plan to reach out to some of my contacts in northern NJ and see if I can convince PSE&G to work with companies like Tendril to also provide that data. Wish me luck. Also, without directly plugging our cleanGPA app and giving a nod to our competition, a full list of hacks can be found here:http://www.3scale.net/2012/…
“distill all household energy consumption (electricity, gas, & oil) to a single comparable metric”DIVIDED BY THE # OF RESIDENCESo you can receive a discount or extra markup on your bill based on your global PER-CAPITA household energy consumption?Here where I live your electric billing rate jumps about 30% for consumption above 667KWH whether you have a small house, a big house, 3 people or 10 people residing there.They conveniently forgot the PER-CAPITA part!I guess I’m trying to say these metrics can be misused.
Thats pretty cool – the api and dataset list is pretty interesting.Thanks @twitter-453168369:disqus for posting the list of hacks 🙂
As @leigh:disqus post said If it’s not dead simple it won’t be widely adopted. Examples: 1/ We have 10 to 20 File back up services in 2010 , people did not budge until DropBox.com came with IT JUST WORKS ( Always ) and a sigle Folder auto SYNC across all your different computers 2/ There are many Iphone ‘Photo sharing’ services , people did not care much until Instagram.com came along with Dead simple way to share Photos. Instagram is ‘Dropbox for Photosharing ‘It takes this kind of Simplicity for people to adopt in a big way …
You’d be amazed how many green business conferences I attend where people don’t know their energy consumption. If they’re intrepid enough to find their energy bill, they still probably don’t understand the squiggles, lines, and jargon. But, if consumers and businesses both dig deep to better understand or use a platform like this… studies show energy consumption definitely drops which helps lower their bill and carbon footprint.
Start-up IDEA : Analyze what you Eat———————————————————-Think about a Scenario where this Button Initiative can work for our Grocery shopping and Grocery items you purchased are available for easy DownloadHere are the details of the Start-up IDEA around this concept.1/ Most people shop grocery same two/three shops all the time.2/ Upon sign-up as USER , this Start-up will mail you a physical Swipable CARD 3/ This Startup will work with all the grocery shops ( in major cities to begin with ) to equip their Cash Register with a USB memory stick to store all purchases per customer .4/ you shop for grocery and before payment , you Swipe your CARD on CARD reader terminal indicating the shop that you are signed-up user and giving your permission to trasmit your purchase DATA to startup-servers.5/ At the end of the day these 5 to 6 USB sticks ( usually grocery shops have 5 to 6 Cash Registers ) from all cash Registers in a shop are inserted into a PC/MAC and all the Data is Transferred to our Start-up Company Servers. ( I know, you are thinking about why NOT tranfer Data from Grocery shop Servers directly instead of USB , I gave the ‘Minimum Viable Product MVP’ solution , Not all shops Maintain Servers … )6/ Once your Data is on Start-up company servers , you can do all kind of ‘Analytical slicking and dicing ‘ to answer questions like. – why you and you family is not losing weight – with your diabetic condition , what itesm in your regular grocery list should me removed/mimized etc..7/ Once this Start-up ties with Professional Nutritionist and Doctors get the Diets and gives Diet plans to you based on – your Health conditon and – what is availeble in your local grocer
I don’t suppose any of these colored buttons are associated with semantic web standards?
not that i know of
Regarding cleanweb/tiny startups – they may be small right now, but they are still important if they cause a change in behavior. NYC has already shown that even a small behavior change can eventually make a huge difference. The city was able to turn around its violent crime problems by changing the little things of graffiti, broken windows, and turnstile jumping (ref. Gladwell). Once these smaller changes were accomplished, attitudes changed resulting in the eventual huge accomplishment of a massive reduction in crime.Don’t count out these little, seemingly inconsequential cleantech startups and what they can eventually mean to the big issues of energy. It’s all about getting society to that attitudinal tipping point
Do you think the hacks are reading this article . ha
I don’t know, I’m just not feeling it. I do like the motivation, but I’m not sure a ‘green button’ is the proper way to solve the problem.Additionally, I’m not keen on a solution that comes from the government and/or industry. There’s also the issue of having a CTO for the country…that also feels hollow. Standards are generally not forced in this way, but part of an evolution that occurs out of behavioral patterns and problem solving.
standards happen many different ways
google has a data liberation project: http://www.dataliberation.org/
Ironically, they also killed their PowerMeter project last year…http://www.google.com/power…
I like simplicity and innovation so I think this green button is a great idea. Two tumbs up for the great work.
Fred: Our company, bluedot.com, is making it really (really) easy for homeowners to understand their home energy usage, with pragmatic suggestions for improvements and quantifying those improvements over time. Obviously, we’re very excited about Green Button since it lets us get high-fidelity usage data without jumping through too many hoops.Three things would make Green Button MUCH more useful, though:* A “read-only” portal on the utility sites, where third parties can access the user’s data but cannot modify the account in any way (e.g. change the user profile information).* A genuine OAuth-like capability, where users can grant access to Green Button data to the third party via their utility company, without the user surrendering login credentials to the third party.* Inclusion of billing information. As it is, only the quantity consumed is shown (at least with PG&E, SCE and SDGE). While it’s possible to back-compute the cost information using the monthly bills, that’s not always completely accurate. (And it gets complex when tiered billing or TOU billing is in effect.)We look forward to the evolution of Green Button and its adoption by other utility companies. But this is a great start.
Just one clarification. The Blue Button is for all healthcare data, not just veterans that want to get their healthcare data. Although, I find it interesting that you see the Blue Button as Veteran access to medical data. Obviously, the VA was an easy source to start the roll out of the Blue Button, but there are a lot more places in healthcare that are using the Blue Button and a lot more that will be. I think I remember hearing that a few health plans were hoping on the Blue Button bandwagon as well.Although, there are challenges to Blue Button, it does start us down the great path of access to health data and that should be applauded.
thanks for clarifying that John
This is a timely post. I just started consulting for a company called Zome Energy Networks – http://www.zomepower.com and I was at a conference (DistribuTech) last week in San Antonio learning a lot about the smart grid & meeting many folks who run utility companies across the nation. One of the big challenges that kept surfacing was the fact that most consumers don’t really care to know what is going on with energy…they just want it to work, be there on always on, and be cost effective. So there has to be “set it and forget” it hardware/software so that consumers can opt in or out of energy managment programs. Most of the people I met who worked at utilities do want their customers involved in energy management, they just don’t want to be responsible for accidentally turning off/on/up/down devices that a consumer deems as critical at a certain point in time. It was a very interesting conference and a great learning experience for me in the clean energy/smart grid space.
Orange Button is EDU