Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative forms to foster adoption of the smart grid

Washington, DC –To help build consumer acceptance and use of the smart grid, a group of smart grid leaders today announced the formation of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC).   The founding members of the SGCC include consumer electronics and technology companies, retailers, consumer advocacy groups, and utilities dedicated to maximizing the value of the grid for consumers.  Launched at DistribuTECH, which is the nation’s largest gathering of energy utilities and technologists, the SGCC will work to understand consumer needs and preferences, reach out to build awareness and educate consumers about the benefits of the smart grid, and share best practices for consumer engagement and empowerment.

The SGCC has three priorities:

1. In-depth research on consumer awareness, acceptance, and use of the smart grid with emphasis on their needs, preferences and priorities 2. Outreach and education to allow consumers to better understand the smart grid, its issues and its potential 3. Development of  best practices to involve and empower consumers  in the roll out of smart grid technologies

The federal stimulus program for the smart grid will reach more than $4 billion and by 2015, nearly half of all North American consumers will have next generation smart meters.   The SGCC wants to ensure these investments engage consumers and deliver the energy efficiency and the savings promised.  Consumer adoption of the new technology and services being deployed is the key to the success of the smart grid.

“For many reasons — energy independence, energy efficiency, integrating renewables, accommodating electric vehicles, and global competitiveness — we must modernize our electric system. But we can’t do that without the support and involvement of the ultimate customer,”  said Jesse Berst, acting Executive Director of the SGCC.  “We formed the SGCC to bring important stakeholders together to do the necessary research, education and collaboration to make sure we include the consumer in the conversation.”

The cross-industry initiative started after Control4, a leader in affordable IP-based home control systems and newcomer to the smart grid space, recognized a common concern emerging from partners, customers, and smart grid conferences; that the industry wasn’t equipped to understand and support consumer reactions to the technology upgrade.  In just a few months’ time, the concept to bring industry leaders together to take on smart grid consumer education became a reality in the formation of the non-profit organization, the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative.  The broad representation of the group and support from established smart grid and consumer advocacy organizations reinforces the importance of the SGCC’s mission.

“There’s been intense work and focus on the technology, energy efficiency and economic advancements the smart grid enables, but if we as an industry don’t turn our attention to the consumer, to drive participation and acceptance, the real promise of the smart grid, energy independence, can never be realized, ” said Richard Walker, President, Control4 Energy Systems.

“The smart grid is of critical importance to the future of the United States.  The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative will help its member companies to further the transformation of our power grid by focusing specifically on the energy consumer,” said Guido Bartels, General Manager of Energy and Utilities at IBM.  “Along with our utility clients we have long been looking at ways to empower consumers to make informed decisions, so taking on a founding role with this collaborative is a logical next step for IBM.”

“Around the world, countries, including the United States, are realizing the clear need to modernize our electrical infrastructure to support the energy demands of our 21st Century society,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president, GE Energy Services. “A smarter electricity grid will enable us to integrate and optimize more renewable energy such as wind and solar, as well as plug-in electric vehicles. It will also increase power reliability and operational efficiencies to deliver greater productivity both for the utility and the consumer.  It will empower consumers to manage their energy usage and save money without compromising their lifestyle. To make this smarter grid a reality, informing and engaging consumers is critical. The SGCC is an opportunity for key stakeholders to work together to better understand consumer needs and articulate the value and benefits of a smart grid for consumers.”

“It is crucial that all stakeholders can work cooperatively to move our industrial-age electric grid into the information age,” said Katherine Hamilton, President GridWise Alliance.  “We have reached a point of deployment where consumers are as important an ingredient as the technology that backs the system and the dollars that fund the modernization of this nation’s new energy economy.  The GridWise Alliance is looking forward to participating in the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative to help consumers reap the benefits of the smart grid.”  The GridWise Alliance is a coalition of 125 organizations advocating for the deployment of a smarter grid for the public good.

“There is a tremendous amount of change going on in the electric world,” said Janine Migden-Ostrander, Ohio’s Consumers’ Counsel. “The availability of carefully designed programs that can benefit residential consumers is key to providing them additional choices and giving them more control over their energy consumption.  But education will be a key component to making the smart grid a useful consumer tool. We are excited to work with the SGCC, to share our knowledge and draw from the expertise the collaborative will offer.” The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million Ohio households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts.

Members from Industry to Consumer Advocacy The SGCC launched today with founding  member companies that span key stakeholder groups, including utilities, technology  and consumer electronics companies, retailers, and consumer advocates.

•     Magnolia/Best Buy

•     Control4

•     Ember

•     General Electric (GE)

•     GridWise Alliance (GWA)

•     IBM

•     NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

•     Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC)

•     Silver Spring Networks (SSN)

Additionally the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition ( and the Future of Privacy Forum ( have  joined as affiliate members, contributing resources to the SGCC.

For more information about the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative,  visit

Live! from CEA’s Greener Gadgets in NYC

The Greener Gadgets Conference opens today in NYC at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center.  The conference will tackle all of the issues surrounding energy efficiency and sustainable design, from innovative advances in packaging and product manufacturing to end-of-life recycling solutions. It will also highlight ways in which electronics make a major impact by utilizing renewable energy in developing nations.

With panel discussions, networking and a design competition, the 2010 conference should be something to look forward to!

Green Life Smart Life founder Kim Lancaster will be speaking the “Green Living Begins at Home” panel with panelists like Sarah Krasley from Autodesk and moderator Sarah Rich from Dwell Magazine.  The panel description reads: Greening your life is an everyday process, starting with the place you begin every day. From building to remodeling, home automation to energy management, green living begins at home. Listen to experts discuss sustainable design strategies for urban and rural locations, creating plans for a home that is both high-tech and green.

I will be attending the event as both a blogger and moral support provider for Kim and hope to live blog and add updates & pictures throughout the show (especially during her panel at 10:40 am ET).

Check my Twitter feed for more up to the minute coverage as well: @ashleydano

LEED for Homes Point by Point: Innovation & Design

Innovation & Design :: 9 points achieved out of 11 points available ::

We achieved 9 out of the 11 available points in this category. ID 1.3 Professional Credentialed with respect to LEED for Homes is apparently not available yet although we are using one (I believe this is in effect for applications made since mid-2009).  We also missed ID 1.5 which is building orientation for solar design because of the number of east facing windows (it faces Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge) – I make no excuses for our choice.

One of the most important aspects of ID is the quality management and durability planning. From the very beginning of our project, we created a Durability Checklist; we then used that as a working document to assign Scope of Works and as a checklist to make sure things were getting done as planned. Incorporated into our building contract, the checklist did evolve as the house was built taking into account any in field changes, additions or deletions.

The third portion is ID 3 which are Innovative Design – four points that are based on truly innovative or regional practices implemented on our project. We’ve been working on 3 of these points from the very beginning. The first point is Energy Management and involves the installation of a system that provides us as the homeowner’s automated control over various loads in the house. Having installed Control4 for home automation and Lutron for lighting control, our system is comprehensive, managing both individual loads and grouped system loads. The Control4 system controls the five-zone Geothermal HVAC system. We can access, control and manage any of the five zones from any of the access points in the house. Control4 includes pre programmed set scenes, timed programming, shutdown, individual temperature control and management of every zone.

The Control4 user interface has multiple options which includes ten touch screens located in each of the following rooms (front entry, kitchen (plus on wall tablet), guest room, children’s rooms (2), master bedroom, unfinished bonus room); remote controls in the living room, master and guest room, side table tablets in the master bedroom and on any PC in the house which includes the office. The interface displays information by the top eight monitored loads broken down to primary categories including: (1) lighting control system, (2) HVAC system, (3) entertainment system rack, (4) televisions, (5) kitchen refrigerator (6) pantry refrigerator (7) entertainment system rack, and (8) charging station. The energy management point takes into account al of the access and control from above and then measures how well the information is supplied to the homeowner. In our case, Control4 aggregates energy usage hour-by-hour, day-by-day, month-by-month. Information can be reported in graphs by time or by load. The system can also recognize and communicate areas of consumption that can be lowered to conserve energy and save money. These two points we won’t officially know the decision of the USGBC technical review committee for approximately another 90 days.

The third point we applied for was our “Wiring for a Green Home” plan, which saved us 52% of the materials used on a comparable project of size, scope and system requirements as determined by our electrical systems contractor. When we were told we’d have to wait 90 days to hear about the here open ID points, we said, well go ahead and submit anyway but what else can we do and we applied for 1.5 points for exemplary performance in MR 2.2 which was our use of environmentally preferred products.

The fourth ID point we applied for was for our high performance washing machine which required both an Energy Star rating and a water factor of 3.5 . Our Whirlpool Duet washing machine helped us achieve 1.5 points for reducing water usage by 74% and energy usage by 80% over washing machines manufactured before 2004. We also received one point for exemplary performance in Sustainable Sites (SS2.5) for attaining the full six points for our conservation and our irrigation system.

Posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster

GE, Whirlpool, Others Launch Smart Green Grid Initiative



Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR) and a number of other companies announced the creation of a new collaborative effort aimed at demonstrating the role of smart grid technologies and practices in the achievement of climate change goals.

Called the Smart Green Grid Initiative (SGGI), the effort will include educational events at the upcoming climate change meetings in Copenhagen. SGGI has been approved by the United Nations to be an official smart grid delegation to the Copenhagen meetings. SGGI will also be sponsoring educational events in the U.S. in the weeks preceding the meetings in Copenhagen.

Supporters of the Smart Green Grid Initiative include National Grid (NYSE: NGG), Southern Company (NYSE: SO), AEP (NYSE: AEP), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), LG Electronics (LGERF.PK),Landis + Gyr, Echelon (Nasdaq: ELON), Tendril, Ice Energy, Enspiria, eMeter and Itron (Nasdaq: ITRI).

“We need to help the world understand the real potential for Smart Grid technologies to help slow climate change,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president of GE Energy’s Transmission and Distribution business. “Smart Grid solutions are often viewed primarily for their efficiency and cost savings, but every kilowatt saved is also a carbon savings. Add the potential carbon benefits we get through easier integration of more renewable energy, like wind and solar, and the Smart Grid can have a major effect on the carbon impact of our energy infrastructure.”

For example, with a key component of climate change policies being increased use of renewable energy, SGGI said it will try to help parties understand and manage its variable and intermittent nature. It will try to demonstrate that demand response and energy storage solutions can dynamically complement renewable resources–and avoid the building of new fossil-fuel power plants to fill the availability gaps and peak needs.

“Another important area is energy efficiency,” said Dan Delurey, Chairman of the Smart Green Grid Initiative. “Today, it is important to view energy efficiency in a more holistic and dynamic way than in the past. New technologies and applications mean that energy efficiency can mean more than just replacing one device with a newer, more efficient one. It can include providing new information to the consumer that they have simply never had before. Research has shown that electricity customers with energy usage information become more energy efficient overall–by upwards of 15%. The Smart Grid may help make energy efficiency sustainable and institutionalized in business and society.”

The Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition and the Demand Response Coordinating Committee, the leading groups in the U.S. focused on promoting the development of the Smart Grid and smart grid practices like Demand Response, also will be supporting SGGI.


KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster


The Ten Benefits of Lighting Control

1. It’s Cheaper to Build a Dimmer than a Power Plant

The baseline benefit of incorporating lighting control in a built environment stems from the disparity in efficiency between the conservation and creation of energy. Intuitively, it makes sense that it would take less energy to conserve one watt of energy than to generate one watt of energy. Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on intuition. Dr. Ian Rowbottom, an energy expert and inventor of direct current dimming, performed an economic analysis of this very question. He goes through a great deal of detail, and explains down to the penny how much more efficient dimming is than power generation.

Disclaimer: This particular white paper was sponsored by Lutron, and is based on test data from Lutron equipment. Because of this, actual energy savings for other dimmers may be more or less than the savings shown here.

The summary of Dr. Rowbottom’s findings is this: it is 4 to 22 times more efficient to conserve energy using dimming than to generate energy via a power plant.

Comparison of Dimming Costs with Power Generation Costs

Dimmer Savings

For a deeper look into the analysis, you can read the full white paper from Dr. Rowbottom below:

2. LEED Certification

Incorporating a lighting control system in a building can contribute up to 37 out of 110 possible LEED points for a building. Below is a rundown of the ways lighting control can help you obtain LEED Certification.
Credit: Lutron Electronics, Inc.


For a deeper look into how this point structure is broken down, you can read the full LEED report here:
Credit: Lutron Electronics, Inc.

3. Smart Meters Mean Real-time Energy Feedback

Lighting control systems are going to be a crucial part of our evolving smart power grid. With the advent of smart meters, which are power meters that provide real-time feedback of energy usage, we will be able to control energy consumption during peak hours. In a home, for example, during peak hours the system could dim the lighting down to 80% throughout the house. This would maintain functionality while saving money and conserving energy usage. More importantly, because the lighting is part of a system, this can be accomplished automatically, without user input. A house or commercial building is no longer a mindless energy drain on the power grid, but a self-regulating node on the smart grid.

Smart meters are being rolled out all over the world. In some cases, they are run as small beta tests first, but in some cases, the rollout is fast and comprehensive. An independent consulting group is mapping the smart grid rollout, which you can see below.
The legend is as follows:
Red = Electricity
Green = Gas
Blue = Water
Triangle = Trial or Pilot Test
Circle = Project

View Smart Metering Projects Map in a larger map

Reducing Electricity Usage also Reduces the Carbon Footprint
While reducing electricity consumption does reduce the drain on our power grid, it also reduces a building’s carbon footprint. Lutron has a useful energy calculator tool which calculates how much carbon dioxide is removed from the air based on your building’s energy savings. For example, dimming lights in one room 30% prevents about 1800lb of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

For more info you can check out their energy calculator here:
Lutron Energy Savings Calculator

5. Dimming Reduces Recurring Monthly Overhead

From a purely bottom-line standpoint, dimming reduces monthly overhead costs. One dimmer dimmed to 30% can save about $500 over 5 years. With, say 20 dimmers, that’s $10,000 of savings in 5 years. That’s a significant reduction in overhead costs.

6. Scheduling Makes Lighting Effortless

Whether it’s putting your home on Vacation mode or setting your restaurant to change lighting scenes automatically throughout the day, scheduling takes the effort out of elegant, efficient lighting.
For residential applications, scheduling means the homeowner can leave home knowing that the house will operate according to their schedule.
Scheduling’s real power is in commercial applications, though. As most commercial buildings operate on a regularly intervaled schedule, the lighting can match that schedule automatically. Lights can come on in the morning, adjust throughout the day, then shut off in the evenings. This also ensures repeatability, which is the next benefit.

7. Repeatability Standardizes Complex Lighting Scenes

Complex Lighting
It takes a great deal of finesse to adjust the lighting in a multi-zone room to obtain a specific feel. Whether it’s setting just the right scene in a homeowner’s dining room or creating the right atmosphere in a museum, lighting adjustments are not something that should be made manually every day.
Lighting control systems remember the settings needed for any given scene and recall it at the push of a button.
In commercial applications, this is particularly necessary. Customers need to experience consistent lighting every time they visit, and the repeatability of a lighting control system ensures that.

8. Energy Management at the Push of One Button

Single-ButtonIt may seem obvious, but it wasn’t too long ago that homes had wall banks of dimmers and switches controlling multi-zone rooms. With the advent of keypad interfaces, lighting control systems have brought in a whole new level of sophistication. Instead of moving the side of your hand along a wall of switches, it just takes one button press. That one button press can control everything from one zone of light to an entire home. Coming next are programmable touchscreens with customizable graphics. You heard it here first.

9. Excellent Lighting = Excellent Productivity

While there has been no scientific study done on lighting’s effect on productivity, Dr. Rowbottom has written an interesting white paper which combines educated guessing with common sense. He arrives at the conclusion that a lighting control system will pay for itself in seven months, based solely on an increase in employee productivity. It makes for a good read, and I’ll let you decide for yourself. Here’s his white paper below.

10. Ambience Means Happier People

This fits together with #9 above, but affects the user on a personal level. While happier people are typically more productive, being happy can be an end in itself. Well-designed lighting scenes have been known to evoke moods , and can uplift or relax the body. Entire certification programs are set up strictly to teach professionals how to properly design lighting that creates a specific atmosphere.
This is why lighting control is so important, even at the basic, personal well-being level. It’s the lighting control system that makes the magic happen. The combination of dimming, pinpoint control, and repeatability means a homeowner can recreate exactly the ambience they wish every time.

Guest Post by Bill Trammel, Writer for Lighting Control Pros

Control4 Demos Energy Management Solution for Utilities at Autovation

Denver, CO – Autovation 2009 – Booth 116 – September 15, 2009 Control4, the leader in affordable IP-based home control systems, introduces the Control4 Energy Management System (EMS) 100 at Autovation 2009. The EMS 100 combines the functionality of a home area network controller with demand response support, with a wireless thermostat and energy management software to provide utilities a cost effective, flexible, home area network solution for their smart grid deployments.   Leveraging award winning Control4® Home Automation product technology, the EMS 100 is the only home energy management solution that delivers customer usage data via the smart meter and a standard’s based, secure platform that can control virtually every device in the home.

“Our products support today’s regulatory requirements to proactively engage the residential consumer by delivering data via the smart grid to facilitate energy efficiency.  But the ability to control devices in the home, particularly during peak load and demand response events, is the key component to energy management that only Control4 provides, “ said Will West, Control4’s CEO. “By providing an easy-to-use, engaging consumer experience that’s coupled with automated device control, utilities can help their customers play a far more active role in managing energy use, which will contribute to generation and distribution efficiencies.”

The system aggregates energy usage data from various loads and presents the information in an intuitive display so that customers can make changes in their home to reduce energy usage or set up their in-home device to automatically do it for them. The EMS 100 serves as a valuable communications tool, providing utilities an efficient means to alert customers of demand response events and send signals directly to devices in the home during peak times.

The EMS 100 solution features the following:

  • The Control4® Energy Controller EC-100 5-inch color touch screen display – The EC-100 delivers usage data and energy costs for the home and the ability for the customer to take such actions as powering down lights or adjusting shades to reduce energy use.
  • The WT-100 Thermostat – A simple, elegant, ZigBee-based programmable wireless thermostat that connects directly to the EC-100 for total control of heating and cooling throughout the home.  Programming the WT-100 thermostat is managed through the EC-100 display.
  • Control4® Network Management Software – Control4® Network Management Software enables the monitoring, optimization and reporting of all deployed energy controllers.  The network management tools provide cost effective Tier 1 technical support and remote diagnostic capabilities.
  • Control4® ECO Software – Control4® Energy Consumption Optimizer (ECO) Software collects, analyzes and compresses energy use and behavior data on the EC-100, then communicates with the utility’s load management software to treat demand response events as a dispatchable resource.  
  • Control4® platform – The standards-based, secure Control4® software platform is based on industry standards of embedded Linux and Adobe Flash Lite.  The platform is secured through ZigBee SE, SSL, and OpenSSH technology.  The platform is extensible, allowing third parties to develop new applications, providing enhanced functionality to the system over time. For example, utilities can develop their own applications such as the monitoring of gas and water or a home’s carbon dioxide output.
  • Control4 Automation & Control — Using ZigBee, Wi-Fi and Ethernet standards, Control4’s solutions give homeowners the ability to control and automate their thermostats, lights, spa or pool, sprinklers and more, to manage power usage with one easy to use interface.

Related Control4 News

On September 1, Control4 announced that Texas-based utility Bluebonnet Electronic Cooperative selected the EMS 100 as its HAN solution for its smart meter roll out in 2010. Control4 also recently announced the shipment of its 1 millionth ZigBee-enabled product, an important milestone, particularly in the energy space, where ZigBee is embraced as a standard communications protocol in the Home Area Network. In July, Control4 announced $17.3 million in financing to fund its Energy Systems division, which is based in Silicon Valley, California.

For more information on Control4, please visit

Energy Efficiency, Lighting and Entertainment Integrate to Show Green and Technology Can Co-Exist

Green Life Smart Life - August 2009Green Life Smart Life™ has named the technology partners who will assist in creating the path to LEED®-H Innovation and Design points for  Energy Management, Energy Monitoring and Green Wiring. With energy efficiency as the foundation to the selection process, every electronic device was reviewed in terms of annual wattage, load requirements and integration with other subsystems before finally approved by the integration and design team.  The home has been structurally wired for a state-of-the-art whole house video, music, lighting, security and Internet but uses 50% less wire and materials than a project of comparable size of scope, making it both eco-friendly and efficient. 

The Green Life Smart Life home will feature the latest in lighting and HVAC control, security and surveillance, energy management and state-of-the art distributed entertainment.  Project highlights include:

  • An overall home control, energy management and entertainment solution provided by Control4.  Utilizing the Control4® Operating System to consolidate into one platform and automate major subsystems such as lighting, HVAC, security and climate control, the Control4 platform will use a ZigBee enabled device to bridge data from the utility meter to the home control system.  This energy management solution will feature:
    • Load shedding allowing homeowners to power down high energy consuming appliances during non-use period and schedule down times for max efficiency.
    • Single button trigger solutions for easy programming of sequenced power on and off scenarios throughout the home, including a “green” feature.
    • Communication system to monitor feedback from all electricity loads in the house with real-time analysis of usage and savings.
    • Occupancy, temperature, magnetic, and timed sensors as well as a self-activated “away” mode every time the security system is armed to ensure maximum energy efficiency, especially when the home is empty.
  • Integral in minimizing the home’s energy consumption, Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system will be programmed to include a high-end trim of 85% for every connected light in the house and features automatic control of motion and occupancy sensors.
  • From music to movies and pictures to TV programming, the home will feature the latest in entertainment technology from Control4 and include an n9 Media Center server from Niveus Media.
  • Whole home audio means all of your music is centralized. The home will manage their music via the NuVo Essentia E6G, the first and currently only whole home audio system to earn the coveted ENERGY STAR® rating.
  • Security and surveillance means safety for your family – Green Life Smart Life will incorporate Black & Decker automated locks through Control4 for complete protection of the home.
  • The three flat panels in the house will be affixed to the wall with OmniMount’s new OmniLite Series mounts – made from recycled materials and using minimal component parts without sacrificing quality or safety.
  • Wired to meet the standards of the CEA TechHome Rating System, Leviton’s structured wiring solutions allowed the home to be outfitted for current as well as future needs.
  • To help earn LEED points in Indoor Air Quality, an H-P Products’ VACUFLO system with Hide-A-Hose will be installed in the home.

 From centralizing the control hub to eliminating hundreds of feet wiring to specifying low-VOC conduit for future accessibility, Robert Saglio Audio Video, in cooperation with the builder and homeowners, will help create standards for future electronic systems installers to potentially achieve LEED-H points and ensure that the homeowners reach their optimal energy consumption goals.