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 how energy data can be applied in other, unintended sectors for better energy management and conservation.

One of the best parts of a collaborative, iterative approach to building an intervention on a systems-level scale is the ability to uncover new areas of potential impact. While the original conception of the Green Button standard was focused on residential consumer energy conservation, we quickly found out that the opportunities in the commercial and industrial sector were just as wide-reaching and deep, if not more.

As we’ve accumulated evidence and feedback from various stakeholders, innovators and early adopters, we’re starting to see other areas and unintended sectors where energy data could be a valuable systems-level intervention. One such area is in education.

Currently, school boards in Ontario track their energy consumption in order to meet provincial regulation 397/11, a regulation that requires all public agencies to collect and publish their energy consumption on an annual basis. This process can be time-consuming and tedious, and does more to incent reporting and publication rather than proactive and ongoing energy management.

The opportunity for school boards to meet their provincial reporting regulation while also better managing their energy is an economic opportunity for innovators and businesses who can create the necessary tools and services for school boards. Currently, the Thames Valley School Board is participating in the Green Button pilots through the adoption of BuiltSpace’s energy management services; BuiltSpace establishes itself as a viable energy management solution, and the Thames Valley School Board meets their reporting requirement in an easy way while also being more proactive in their energy management.

This kind of opportunity is one of the new unintended sectors that was uncovered through a collaborative process of building the Green Button ecosystem. What other such opportunities for impact exist? We’ll be sure to uncover more as we test, validate and build a better energy data ecosystem together.

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 field trip to solar field by Black Rock Solar.)