Feds ramp up energy, climate data programs

The Obama administration Wednesday added new pieces to its data initiatives designed to conserve energy and fight climate change, and announced new efforts from the private sector that help the data programs.

“Since its earliest days, the Obama administration has recognized that freely available data from the U.S. government is an important national asset, serving as fuel for entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery and economic growth,” the White House said.

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Obama launched an energy data initiative in 2012 and a climate data initiative earlier this year. The Wednesday announcements were part of a “datapalooza” event hosted by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the White House.

The DOE said it now has a database of 750,000 anonymized building records that building managers can use as real-world benchmarks for energy performance. In other building news, the DOE said it wrapped up a successful pilot program to give federal building managers data from utilities on buildings’ energy use, incorporated the industry “green button” standards.

The Wednesday announcements also included alternative energy, the White House said. The Energy Department has launched a competitive grant program for developing technology to reduce the costs of solar energy and it is providing federal data on geothermal sweet spots for free to the private sector.

These renewable energy efforts are in addition to the study the DOE recently unveiled in which it identified major waterways with untapped hydropower potential, the White House said.

The department plans to announce the winners of its “Apps for Energy” contest Wednesday, and the Environmental Protection Agency has developed a tool for local and state governments to determine the impacts on climate of federal environmental policies.

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