Community Outreach

As part of Energy Hippo's effort to give back to the community, CEO Nitin Manchanda spent most of his day working with the children from TOPS K-8 school to prepare for a trip to visit homeless shelters in the Seattle area.  

The first order of the day was preparing lunch (pictured) for the folks at Tent City 5, near Interbay. They then visited the shelter to meet and provide a healthy lunch option to the group living there. Tent City is managed by its residents, all volunteering for tasks to keep the area clean, alcohol and drug free, and secure. The residents are encouraged to stay for 90 days only, and efforts to provide them with a job and more permanent housing are immediate goals of the shelter. After their visit, the volunteer students continued to walk or bus to other shelters (and will do so for the next couple of days) and help in various ways, and will spend the night sleeping in the basement of churches around Seattle.

Thank you, Nitin!

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Book Review: "The Grid" by Gretchen Bakke

The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, by Gretchen Bakke, is essential reading for anyone looking to join the conversation on North America's energy industry. In order to discuss how we produce or consume power we must think about the electric grid and how it facilitates the transfer of electricity from source to user. To achieve the renewable energy goals we have set for ourselves, we need to reinvent the aging system we use to deliver it.

Bakke, a cultural anthropologist, analyzes the grid's development through a social lens because as she states in an interview with NPR, "technological systems are cultural. They're formed by the ways that we interact with technology." In her book, Bakke first lays out the minimum amount of physics necessary to understand the quirks about electricity that constrain the methods in which it can be transmitted, and thus the ways our grid can be built. She then takes the reader through the manufacturing history of the electrical grid, beginning with its inception in the late 1800's, and profiles the individuals that brought it to market. Next, she narrates the government legislature and regulation that shaped the utility industry into a stale ecosystem unequipped (and non-incentivized) to innovate the grid's complex machinery.

Once she has detailed this monstrous "largest machine ever made," she connects the reader through a topic with which most of us are all too familiar: blackouts. Bakke presents several character stories of people who are fed up with the unreliability of their power supply and have turned to their own measures of energy security, or are learning to live without it. Frustratingly, and illustrative of the grid's fragility, she says that most power outages are caused by seemingly innocuous things such as overgrown trees, squirrels chewing through the wires, human error, weather or computer glitches. The vulnerabilities present in these diverse forms drives home the point that everything is connected.

On top of the existing issues, the addition of renewable energy to the system pushes our grid to the breaking point. The essential differences in how energy is made between fossil fuels and renewables pose a threat to our fragile infrastructure, of which many parts are more than 50 years old. To move forward with our clean energy goals we must rethink our grid, but rather than a one-size-fits all revolutionary solution, we likely need a patchwork of solutions. Bakke argues that rather than "hardening" the grid, we must make it more flexible, to account for the unforseeable changes and advancements in technologies, and closes the book with a discussion of our options.

The Grid is a one-stop resource to bring anyone up to speed on the national energy conversation; Bakke tackles all of these topics and more in an entertaining and readable manner. Purchase The Grid here and start thinking about your personal and our collective energy future. To better manage your own energy consumption, contact support@energyhippo.com.

New York Provides Additional $12 Million in State Funding for Energy Efficiency

An estimated 60% of New York's greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to buildings, which makes them an obvious target for energy efficiency projects. Last year, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) launched an initiative to improve energy efficiency in its state's buildings, focusing mainly on commercial buildings. This year, NYSERDA is offering $12 million to energy efficiency projects in industrial and multifamily sectors, bringing the total investment in the project to over $40 million.

The project includes a Real Time Energy Management (RTEM) initiative to encourage customers to implement software systems that collect energy usage data, which customers can then use to identify potential savings and emissions reductions. Alicia Barton, President and CEO of NYSERDA, said, 

"The RTEM program has already shown its value in the commercial sector in using energy more efficiently and reducing costs. This expanded offering is the next logical step in the State's efforts, under Governor Cuomo's leadership, to bring its benefits to other types of buildings."

In addition to data monitoring and analytics, NYSERDA offers ongoing RTEM consulting services to aide customers' efficiency improvement decisions. We at Energy Hippo can attest that data is only as good as the organization's drive to use it, and subject matter experts are critical to successful implementations. We see our clients as long-term business partners, and our team brings 15+ years of experience to the table. Contact support@energyhippo.com to learn more.

 

Ontario Continues to Promote Green Button

Ontario's Ministry of Energy recently released their "2017 Long-Term Energy Plan: Delivering Fairness and Choice." The province first launched their energy plan in 2010, and reviewed it once in 2013. Since then, they engaged consumers through means such as stakeholder sessions and Environmental Registry submissions to gather feedback for this 2017 update. The key initiatives focus on: ensuring affordable and accessible energy to customers; innovating the energy system; improving value, performance, conservation and efficiency; and shifting towards clean energy.

In order for both the province and the consumer to work towards these goals, it is critical to provide access to energy usage data and metrics. Ontario seeks to employ the Green Button data standard which gives individuals "easy electronic access" to this information. Green Button was created in the U.S. Department of Energy's "Apps for Energy Challenge," with the concept that customers should be able to download their own electricity usage from their utility website. Ontario's Energy Plan states,

"Greater access to information through Green Button will allow consumers to better understand their energy and water usage and use the information to make decisions, such as reducing or shifting their energy use or retrofitting their home or business to improve its energy efficiency. Green Button can also support energy reporting and benchmarking, and create new opportunities for economic development."

Energy Hippo is an authorized service provider for Green Button and can help your organization access and manage your energy usage data. Contact support@energyhippo.com to learn more.

Chicago to Use Data to Improve Building Efficiency

Since beginning its energy benchmarking program in 2013, the city of Chicago has saved over $17 million on energy costs. Almost 2,700 properties are now tracking and reporting their energy use through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager; with these baseline interpretations in place, the city can take their energy efficiency goals to the next level.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is partnering with Chicago utility ComEd to launch the Smart Building Operations Pilot. This program will use real-time energy data to encourage management teams to make energy-efficient choices each day. According to an EDF report:

"The Smart Building Operations Pilot will [...] find out whether the combination of information, interpretation, and motivation results in large building operators consistently making smarter energy choices:
  1. Information: The building will collect and display energy-use data in real time (or near‐real time), providing direct feedback to a building operator on the energy impact of their actions.
  2. Interpretation: The building will calculate an energy-use baseline, against which performance will be tracked every half hour, daily, and monthly. To raise awareness, building operators will receive alerts when energy use exceeds or is expected to exceed the baseline.
  3. Motivation: The program will provide an achievable and meaningful incentive to improve. ComEd will provide up to $5000 up-front to cover hard costs and $0.05 for each kilowatt hour saved compared to the building’s baseline.
This three-pronged approach will empower participants to know how their decisions are affecting energy use in real‐time and easily track those impacts, while providing financial rewards for hitting and exceeding targets."

Energy Hippo software integrates with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and can help you achieve your energy savings goals. Contact support@energyhippo.com to learn more.

Campus Billing and Energy Management Systems

Managing the data collection, processing, and reporting for campus billing is often a manual and expensive process.  The campus utilities environment is invariably complex, often with a mix of district energy, purchased power, renewables, and other utilities.  Campus metering may be a mixture of real-time interval meters, manually read monthly meters, and calculated meters.  Tenant calculations may be based on square footage, facility use types, or historical usage patterns.  Users of this data may include facilities, accounting and finance, administration, and other end user customers.  Often campus rebilling requires redundant manual processes, disparate systems and spreadsheets, and significant time to generate monthly bills.  Many organizations are saving time and money by integrating and automating their existing campus billing process with applications built for campus billing.  These products help to standardize and automate data collection, bill generation, bill allocation, data export, and energy management reporting.  Learn the best practices around data collection and data management for campus billing and how software products can make the process faster, easier, and more reliable.

Contact support@energyhippo.com for the full whitepaper.