Building an ecosystem around energy conservation requires collaboration between a multitude of players and stakeholders, both in Ontario and globally. Like any large-scale systems change, re-imagining data’s role in the energy industry is a collaborative, iterative process that requires rapid trial and error, continuous feedback, and the ability to adapt to changing requirements and context.

This post looks at the work being done across North America around energy data standards, and the potential for a scalable, international ecosystem.

Convening the necessary collaborators to bring the Green Button to Ontario has been an enlightening process for MaRS. It has allowed us to re-imagine the role of data in Ontario’s energy system, and work with others to design impactful, sustainable interventions around that data to create a more efficient, effective energy system while also creating a framework for economic growth.

The recognition in Ontario that any fruitful change to the energy system must have the input of utilities, consumers, businesses, regulators, government, non-profits and advocacy groups has been a driving force in building a conservation ecosystem of players who all have a vested interest in using data to transform the way we think about energy and the smart grid.

An example of this ecosystem is perfectly demonstrated with London Hydro’s pilot of the Connect My Data phase of the Green Button. London Hydro is not just actively working on setting up the necessary architecture to enable the Green Button, but is directly working with commercial partners (entrepreneurs, innovators and established businesses) to provide solutions to their customers that are valuable and will be quickly and easily adopted. Participants in the pilot (currently, GOODcoins, BuiltSpace, People Power, Bidgely, Quinzee and Wattsly) not only work closely with London Hydro to ensure compatibility and value, but also have access to a special test lab where they can try out their solutions in an environment that mimics the relationships between a utility company, a customer and a vendor. On top of that, London Hydro has an engaged customer base of early adopters who are helping to validate, test and provide feedback to the vendors, as well as the whole setup of the Green Button Connect My Data process itself.

“The Green Button Alliance will take a leadership role in educating the industry, and will create a rich ecosystem of certified third-party applications that greatly benefit residential, commercial and industrial customers.” Barry Haaser, Executive Director, Green Button Alliance

The collaboration between the various types of users and stakeholders across all parts of the conservation journey sets the London Hydro example, and Ontario’s Green Button itself, apart as a systems-level intervention as opposed to other kinds of conservation projects.

Ontario’s work in energy data, however, is just one piece of a larger global network of energy consumption and conservation efforts to bring large-scale energy systems change at the international level. The Green Button Alliance, a non-profit corporation, was launched on February 4, 2015, in San Diego, California, with an aim to advance the Green Button initiative across North America and raise awareness among customers to accelerate adoption.

Nick Sinai, Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellow and former US deputy chief technology officer, wrote an excellent recap of the launch of the Green Button Alliance.

The “Green Button” Energy Data Movement Grows Up

Founding members of the Green Button Alliance include London Hydro, Schneider Electric, UL, the US Department of Energy (DOE), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NSIT) and the UCA International Users Group, a roster that reflects the importance of building a large-scale, multinational ecosystem of energy conservation and management solutions and the platforms that enable those solutions.

Meanwhile, here in Ontario, the work continues. Pilots and prototypes turn into programs, early adopters turn into the early majority, and visions turn into reality. The vision, over two years ago, that access to energy data would be a successful intervention for the transformation of the energy system is showing results and evidence. As the system changes, the work will continue to adapt along with it.

Want to learn more about how MaRS Data Catalyst is working with partners across North America on large-scale systems change in the energy data arena? Check out our series on data’s role in energy conservation and smart grid transformation:

If you’re looking to learn more about the Green Button and what it means for Ontarians, check out this short video that talks about energy data and conservation:

(Feature photo of Bangui Bay turbines by Storm Crypt.)