Press the Green Button for innovation

The core idea of the Green Button initiative may be to empower citizens to take charge of their energy consumption data, but one agency CTO's vision for its purpose extends well beyond that. 

In a June 20 presentation at FedScoop’s U.S. Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C., Energy Department CTO Pete Tseronis discussed how he sees the crowd-sourced Green Button challenge as a way to spur innovation and entrepreneurship around the nation.

The Green Button initiative was announced in September 2011 by former U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra, and expands on policy objectives in the Obama administration's Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future and Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid. At the time of the announcement, Chopra hailed the promise of Green Button as having the potential to deliver “untold benefits” to both citizens and utilities.

Much like existing personal financial apps that track and itemize expenses, Green Button breaks down consumers’ energy use and helps them understand how to save money, Tseronis said.

“If you think of Mint.com, and how you can visualize how your money is being spent and patterns that are there – that’s what Green Button is about,” he explained.  “Ultimately, [it’s about] leveraging Green Button data and building applications ... and making decisions based on you as a consumer.”

Since its unveiling in January 2012, Green Button has been used by more than 12 million utility customers and 31 million homes and businesses. Twenty-four states have also committed to use Green Button data, according to Tseronis.

Ultimately, Green Button provides more than just the snapshot of information that’s included on an electricity bill, he said. The tool helps consumers learn about their everyday energy demand and supply, as well as educates them where to find “green” kitchen appliances, for example.

“Who wouldn’t want to know their electricity demand and supply?” he asked. “Green Button data is going to provide all this, not just on your smart phone but ultimately on any device and provide access to that information.”

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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