The ‘Energy Datapalooza’ event at the US president’s base in Washington DC was led by the US Department of Energy. The event was used to highlight innovations that use previously untapped government and non-government data to build products, services and applications that save money on utility bills, protect the environment and create jobs.
Balfour Beatty Communities and WattzOn demonstrated Switch4Good Living Buildings, which is designed to help reduce community energy consumption by deploying usage data. It allows building and home occupants to access their energy consumption data and relevant tips through social media. A 2010 pilot resulted in an average decrease in energy consumption of 18%.
Developing ‘green’ buildings is just one step in becoming more sustainable, according to the team. Even with certification, it is the building occupants who ultimately drive the building’s energy performance, as poor habits can drive up energy use. Switch4Good Living Buildings is designed to support energy-saving habits.
The first phase targets energy use in buildings managed by Balfour Beatty Communities throughout its privatised military housing portfolio. Fort Carson and Fort Bliss were showcased in the White House demonstration.
The programme involves using community centres at the installations to measure energy consumption using smart meters that transmit real-time data and trigger targeted energy messages to building occupants via text or Twitter. Community Centre occupants can respond to the messages and take action to reduce the immediate energy load when necessary such as turning off unused lights and copy machines and changing thermostat settings. The information from Living Buildings is also available publically, so residents throughout the community can monitor progress.
Balfour Beatty Communities has partnered with WattzOn, an energy conservation company based in Silicon Valley, to administer this programme.
“Balfour Beatty Communities is committed to developing and managing residential communities that maximise value for both our partners and residents,” said Balfour Beatty Communities president Chris Williams. “Increasingly that value is focused on sustainability. As a strategic partner to the US Department of the Army, we are continuously searching for new and innovative ways to support their vision of installations that operate on a Net Zero basis for energy, water and waste. The Switch4Good™ program alters habits and saves energy through the empowerment of residents and other building occupants. Because nearly 20-25% of a military installation’s energy use is consumed by housing, the Switch4Good program is an important step in mitigating the energy security risks for our military.”