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NIST Targets Energy Apps With Green Button Tools

SDK user guide aims to help utilities build new consumer apps to monitor electric use.

Elena Malykhina

February 7, 2013

2 Min Read

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a new user guide for its software development kit to help electric utilities build Green Button applications.

Green Button apps allow people to see their energy usage when they click a green button on a website, and therefore, make informed decisions about how to better use their power. The user guide contains documentation on the SDK, enabling utilities and vendors to develop Web services and applications that communicate and handle Green Button data, according to NIST. The guide includes information on the composition of Green Button data and how it fits together, instructions on making Green Button data accessible to users via XML style sheets, sample source code and examples of finished data sets.

NIST is offering the free guide via its Smart Grid Collaboration Wiki and Smart Grid Interoperability Panel site, which is dedicated to achieving interoperability of smart grid devices and systems. "All the different technical innovators -- Web designers, entrepreneurs, utility experts -- will find the help they need inside," said David Wollman, the NIST lead for Green Button and program manager for smart grid standards and research, in a written statement.

[ Wonder how technology helps local governments solve big challenges? See 10 Cities Raise Tech IQs In IBM Challenge. ]

The Green Button initiative launched in September 2011 in response to a White House call to action, urging utilities and energy service providers to create a consumer-friendly format for energy usage data. Nine utilities and electricity suppliers joined the effort last year, giving more than 15 million Americans access to their energy usage online.

Green Button has also received support from the private sector and government agencies, many of which have since launched similar energy-related efforts. Earlier this week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that its interactive electricity data browser has moved from the beta testing phase and is now live. The browser gives the public access to a variety of data, such as electricity generation, retail sales, average electricity prices, and the cost and quality of fossil fuels used to generate electricity. Electricity information can be viewed at a national level or narrowed down to a specific state; for instance, the power plants located closest to the New Orleans Superdome, which experienced a blackout during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

EIA's browser is an example of the type of more efficient system that President Obama outlined in his open data strategy. It combines a decade's worth of electricity data that before could only be accessed online via separate EIA electricity reports and databases.

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About the Author(s)

Elena Malykhina

Technology Journalist

Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she followed the world of advertising. Having earned the nickname of "gadget girl," she is excited to be writing about technology again for InformationWeek, where she worked in the past as an associate editor covering the mobile and wireless space. She now writes about the federal government and NASA’s space missions on occasion.

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