We see a growing market for smart technologies that unite the producers and consumers of energy into a single, dynamic energy ecosystem.
In Charlotte, N.C., Verizon is working with partners Cisco and Duke Energy on a breakthrough project to dramatically raise energy awareness.
Known as “Envision: Charlotte,” the initiative calls for jumbo video screens in downtown lobbies that display in near-real time the total energy used by buildings in the city’s core. The interactive displays include suggestions that help individuals take steps to cut their own energy consumption. Social media postings are supplementing information on the screen, along with tales of “energy champions” who create new conservation ideas for their firms.
The effort is a first-of-its-kind public-private initiative to address energy efficiency across a downtown area. It’s also a major jump into the commercial energy market for Verizon and the other companies involved. Products in this area have typically been focused on the residential market.
Verizon’s 4G LTE wireless network connects the 70 buildings in uptown Charlotte, collecting energy usage data and streaming the results to the lobby monitors. Duke Energy, the area’s electric power supplier, anticipates actions inspired by the project will produce a 20 percent drop in power use -- approximately 220,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases -- by 2016. The goal for the project is to make downtown Charlotte the most sustainable urban core in the nation.
Promoting energy reduction in Charlotte is just one benefit of the collaborative effort. Envision: Charlotte organizers hope that new businesses will be attracted to a city with the strategy and technologies in place to significantly reduce energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the savings potential from applying cost-effective measures in existing commercial buildings is up to 20 percent.
For Verizon, the program may open similar opportunities in other cities, as they see the advantages yielded by Envision: Charlotte. Organizers of the project describe it as the “Prius Effect,” a model that creates a high regard for going green.
That effect seems to be taking hold: the initiative earned an industry award for Best Energy Efficiency/Demand Response Project for 2012.