A panel of energy measurement entrepreneurs speaking at Green:Net had surprisingly fuzzy thoughts towards terms like accuracy, precision, and standards. It wasn’t that they think perfect measurement is impossible, just that they have a very nuanced view of what’s currently possible.
“We have to look at data in a relative way because it may be imperfect overall,” said Jeremy Jaech, CEO of Verdiem Corp., which provides enterprise software to monitor the devices connected to IT networks.
Raffi Krikorian, co-founder of WattzOn, which measures personal energy use, added, “We need to be consistent in measuring our users so we can match them relatively.” Krikorian and Jaech agreed heartily that consistency is more important than true accuracy.
Krikorian spoke of his company’s ideas to standardize manufacturing chains labeling and reporting, create ways for users to give access to their data that require intricate permission models, and send power data along with contextual metadata to the cloud directly from outlets — but said these things are far from fruition. In the meantime, public and crowdsourced data and some personal data are a place to start.
Richard Barber, CTO of carbon credit automator Carbon Flow, said the offset business is actually fairly accurate as compared to personal and corporate measurement, and that it’s more constrained by audit processes. But in a market in which international carbon trading was worth $60 billion last year, “As long as you reduce something you’ve made a reduction,” Barber argued.
So what would help get good data out of people and systems? The panel seemed less concerned with standards than you would think. “Standardization is relatively simple in software,” assured Alex Wissner-Gross, co-founder and CTO of CO2Stats, which looks to things like the local energy sources for major geographical sources of traffic to certain web pages in order to measure their emissions.
Jonathan Gay, founder of Greenbox Technology and prior to that a co-creator of Flash, had some words of advice from his past life. He said the most effective standards start as things that work, rather than the formation of committees. Greenbox looks at smart power meters, utility rate plans, weather reports, and user-reported data to try to make homes more efficient via a web interface. So he wants to connect data to actions. “The big deal for us is attribution. Can you get credits for turning off lights?”