Pointing to data-driven successes

The White House Energy Datapalooza highlighted what the Obama administration says are money-saving -- and planet-saving -- uses of big data.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a self-described "data-driven Cabinet member," hailed energy data as a means to protect the Earth and save billions of dollars across government when he cited several recent success stories at the White House Energy Datapalooza in Washington on May 28.

Moniz said those successes include the Green Button pilot project, which is designed to help building managers achieve energy efficiencies by measuring and transmitting information about energy consumption at federal buildings.

DOE, the General Services Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, worked with Pepco Holdings, FirstFuel Software and Schneider Electric to launch Green Button.

The pilot project built on GSA's energy management activities in 2012, which the agency said resulted in $16 million in energy savings at 100 GSA buildings.

"At GSA, Green Button has allowed us to have a better understanding of what things should be running, what things are actually running and what things need to be turned off," GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said at the datapalooza event.

The Energy Department's Federal Energy Management Program will use the results of the pilot to create governmentwide guidance, and EPA plans to incorporate the Green Button standard into its Energy Star benchmarking tool.

Other speakers at the event addressed a topic that President Barack Obama has said is one of his highest second-term priorities: climate change.

John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, said energy and climate data are intersecting, and the private sector has been a crucial partner in the government's efforts to use both to support the administration's climate-change policy.

Some of those companies are participating in the Climate Data Initiative launched earlier this year, presidential counselor John Podesta said at the event.

Esri plans to use its geographic information system platform to help communities better prepare for climate change; Intel has pledged to host a hackathon in New Orleans, San Jose and the Chesapeake Bay region; and Google pledged to make huge amounts of cloud storage space available to developers in a climate data experiment. They are among a dozen companies that have made pledges.

"We're using data, we're promoting innovation, we're building technology to face this challenge head-on," Podesta said.

Other data-driven energy projects referenced at the event were:

  • DOE's Buildings Performance Database, which holds 750,000 building performance records. The world's largest public database of energy performance information can be used policy-makers, contractors, real estate professionals and lenders.
  • The third part of DOE's Apps for Energy challenge, Open Data by Design, which begins June 4. The contest invites competitors to "use information design and graphic design to inspire, inform and amplify the value of our public data resources."
  • The opening of geothermal data for scientists and industry as part of the National Geothermal Data System, which will release massive amounts of raw geoscience data that can be used by researchers and commercial developers to find the most promising areas for geothermal energy.
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