Greater Energy Savings through ‘Internet of Things’ Partnerships

Christopher Hankin photo

This week, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly convened a dialogue on the ENERGY STAR® program that has reaffirmed the benefits that strong and focused public-private cooperation can generate.  The groundwork that was laid this week could evolve the ENERGY STAR program to achieve greater energy savings with significant benefits to consumers and the environment.

The "Workshop on Enabling Energy Efficient Systems" built upon previous conversations between the EPA, ITI member companies, and other stakeholders, as part of roadmapping exercises that began in 2012.  Since its launch in 1992, EPA’s ENERGY STAR program has served as a voluntary certification program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products.  Traditionally, the program focused on stand-alone products such as desktop computers, refrigerators and air conditioners.

Looking ahead to the emergence of the “internet of things” (IoT) as devices, appliances, equipment and structures are connected and networked, we have the potential to achieve far greater net energy and financial savings and further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  This technological evolution calls for a new perspective and approach for the ENERGY STAR program as it enters its third decade.   

Since technology is rapidly improving how these devices can co-operate more efficiently through smart energy use and connectivity, our goals for the workshop this week were equally forward-leaning:

  • To deepen our understanding of collective systems and how they operate in an ecosystem;
  • To deepen our understanding of the systems landscape and metrics for measuring their efficiency;
  • To identify areas of shared interest in educating consumers; and,
  • To establish the next steps needed to continue these collaborative efforts, including the development of educational materials and exploring the potential for pilot projects.

The closing remarks of the assembled participants from EPA, industry and organizations noted the important progress made during the workshop. The sessions built on previous efforts by EPA and ITI to bring the energy efficiency and information and communications technology communities closer to acknowledge the shift from a component to a system focus to yield greater efficiencies. 

We thank the 80-plus participants who represented a broad spectrum of industries, federal agencies, universities, and nongovernmental organizations.  While more remains to be done, collaborative efforts such as this are pioneering energy efficiency in ways that improve the health of our environment, and in the process, benefit consumers and our economy.   

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