A new guide for Web developers recently released by NIST will make it easier for electric utilities and vendors to give customers convenient, electronic access to their energy usage data with tools and applications developed as part of the new "Green Button" initiative.
Green Button aims to provide electricity and gas consumers with their own energy usage information in an understandable and computer-friendly standardized electronic format via a "Green Button" on a utility's Web site. Consumers armed with this information can then use an array of new Web applications to make more informed energy decisions and to verify that their energy-efficiency investments are performing as promised. To help utilities and vendors create Web services and applications that communicate and handle Green Button data appropriately, NIST created a special Software Development Kit, which the new guide will help developers use effectively.
"The User Guide is a playbook for implementation of the Green Button Software Development Kit," says David Wollman, the NIST lead for Green Button and program manager for smart grid standards and research in NIST's Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office. "All the different technical innovators—Web designers, entrepreneurs, utility experts—will find the help they need inside."
Included in the new guide is information on:
- The composition of Green Button data and how it fits together
- How to make Green Button data accessible to users via XML style sheets, which render the data comprehensible to the consumer; and
- Sample source code showing what data to begin with, as well as examples of finished data sets.
The User Guide, which is freely available via the Website, contains all the lessons learned since the announcement of the Green Button Initiative in September 2011 and the release of the Software Development Kit the following month. It provides a good overview for those utilities not yet using Green Button, Wollman says.