ICT companies focused on smart city effort (CISCO CUD)

Several ICT companies (e.g. IBM: Smart Planet, Accenture: Intelligent City Network, CISCO: Connected Urban Development, Ericsson Smart City, etc.) and research institutions (e.g. MIT: Smart City SENSEable lab,  Terreform One, etc.) already offer services and solutions’ components that can help to build more livable, sustainable cities by innovative ICT usage. It is not easy to evaluate how much are they applicable and compatible to specific scenarios and constraints, even if in many towns such as Boulder or Amsterdam many ICT companies are working together with utilities, universities and other organization to provide integrated solutions. Since I recently had the opportunity to listen to the presentation “Cisco Smart Connected Communities: Evoluzione dei Servizi al Cittadino” by Fabio Florio, I’ll start to present my understanding of CISCO CUD vision, that is strongly connected to the role of networking and internet based services in driving changes (“If it’s Connected to the Internet, it can be Greener.”)

CISCO: Connected Urban Development

San Francisco, Amsterdam, Seoul, Birmingham, Hamburg, Lisbon, and Madrid as member of Connected Urban Development (CUD) cities, aim to demonstrate how to reduce carbon emissions, delivering innovative, sustainable models for urban planning and economic development. ICT, above all high connectivity and collaboration, allow introducing fundamental improvements in the efficiency of urban infrastructure. The CUD effort is supported by Cisco, aligned with the “Clinton Global Climate Initiative” since 2006, with the contribution of MIT Mobile Experience Lab. It envisions a future “where the intelligent use of networking architectures can transform society not only by boosting productivity and spurring economic growth, but also by supporting environmental sustainability and enhancing the quality of life in urban environments”.

The CUD scope refers to the following areas:                                                                  

  •  Increasing efficiency of traffic flow, service offerings and manageability of public transportation, also to avoid that urban mobility problems can rapidly turn into an urban mobility crisis
  • Establishing new distributed delivery models for city services to its residents
  • Creating sustainable real estate models which incorporate energy efficiency and new work environment models (remote worker, collaboration, shared space)
  • Enabling new resident services to self-manage carbon footprint

Success metrics defined for CUD include:

  • Decrease of Transport Demand (in terms of traffic volume)
  • Increase of Transport Speed (in terms of traffic speed and throughput)
  • Reduced tonnage of emissions: CO2, NOx, PM10
  • Increased efficiency of public transport: timeliness, safety, utilization rates
  • Increased energy efficiency of buildings and of energy grids

The CUD blueprint is based on a broadband infrastructure which enables new solutions for Work, Mobility, Energy and Buildings. For example the Cisco EnergyWise relies on the intelligence of the network to communicate messages that measure, report and control energy across the enterprise/building. It specifically focus on these goals: 1) It allows companies to be environmentally friendly by saving energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; 2) It make clear to customers that they can reduce Energy consumption cost and understands why this is important in today‘s world climate; 3) It support Government directives around the globe that are requiring companies to be greener and increase sustainability.

The CUD approach is based on these principles:

  1. ICT directly contributes both to energy usage and CO2 reduction.
  2. Deploying urban pervasive, broadband-based, ICT applications and services improves energy efficiencies in Connected and Sustainable cities: Built Environment, Mobility, Work and Energy. It can enable radically innovative practices in the areas of urban form and planning, energy policy, new working practices, and new lifestyles.
  3. ICT and broadband connectivity have become enablers of combined, citywide urban policy, and of previously disconnected (siloed government initiatives) operational programs.

For example the” Connected Public Transit” addresses the following features: Current transit conditions (crowding and delays); trip optimization to minimize time, financial and environmental costs; transit vehicle arrival; park & ride information; mapping and guidance to nearby public transport stops/stations, and destinations; integrated payment systems of public transit (including multiple agencies), taxi, and related services, able to accommodate variable rates and special discounts; on-board wireless services, for  work and entertainment stations, similar to first-class airline services; transit priority in traffic signal controls; vehicle performance monitoring, such as driving profile, on-time reliability, passenger crowding.The CUD toolkit, that is intended to structure and institutionalize the outputs of CUD projects, is one of the outcomes. It actually contains the Executive Presentation, Project Recap / Whitepaper, Proof of Concept / prototype, Technical Architecture, Value Case and Other Tools for these efforts:

  • MOBILITY: Smart mobility and eco-footprint monitoring, The Connected Bus: San Francisco; Personal Travel Assistant: Seoul and Amsterdam; Smart Transportation Pricing: Seoul; Intelligent traffic management: Hamburg
  • WORK: Smart Work Centers: Amsterdam (108 SWC in 2011 www.w-smartwork.nl );
  • BUILDINGS AND ENERGY: Urban Energy Management: Madrid; Smart Urban Energy for Schools: Lisbon; Connected and sustainable work and living solutions: Amsterdam EnergyWise buildings and ICT: Birmingham                                   
  • ICT AND SOCIO-ECONOMICS: Urban EcoMap: San Francisco
  •  MIT Research Projects: Urban Development, Personal Travel Assistant, Connected Home, Sustainable Transportation


Webinar: Sustainable Supply Chain & ICT

IACCM (International Association for Contract & Commercial Management) and Acquisti&Sostenibilita’ are pleased to invite you to the FREE Webinar: Sustainable Supply Chain & ICT– From the supply chain sustainability of  ICT to ICT for assessing and optimizing the impact of other sectors’ supply chain.

I’m the autor of this webinar, as the ICT PM in the board of Directors A&S, with the precious feedback and review provided by  Gianmaria Riccardi Commercial Business Director, Europe, Cisco and member of IACCM board directors.

Inspiring Sustainable Supply Chain

Acquisti & Sostenibilità

This is a step in a growing, long term  cooperation between A&S and IACCM.

You can find additional information and register to attend it live by the web on Thursday April 28th – starting at 4 PM Rome, 3PM UK, 10 AM ET NA, 7 AM PT NA (duration 1 hour including Q&A) or receive a link to the recorded version via: https://www.iaccm.com/events/register/?id=1117

You can now download the  (pdf with the 30 presented slides + 43 additional ones, most of them have links to additional content) from this link to the A&S site: http://www.acquistiesostenibilita.org/download/articoli/IACCM_Sustainable_Supply_Chain-v2.pdf
Many other valuable english contents from the A&S web is referenced here:


(pdf with 30 presented
slides + 43 additional ones, most of them have links to additional content)

This seminar will approach the analysis of the sustainability in the supply chain from these two point of views

  1. How much the supply chain of ICT products and services is sustainable, taking into account some specific aspects (such as e-waste, life cycle, etc.) that can be managed and improved..
  2. How ICT tools and services can contribute to increase the sustainability of the supply chain, for example by helping to evaluate LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) or providing radical transparency to customers and other stakeholders.

I’ll check if you can still access the recorded session and I’m open to answer  Q&A by e-mail or by posting a comment here.

Donato Toppeta

note: A Live webminar is by definition a more sustainable way to attend a seminar since you avoid travelling that has a major contribution to enevironment.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition and its tool

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is a new interesting initiative, started in 2010, that involve multiple stakeholders, related to the fashion system, that share a common belief and good practices in Sustainability: Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Kohl’s Department Stores, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., LF USA, a division of Li & Fung Limited, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart (they plan to invite other companies to join). It is an is an industry-wide, international group of leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations, academic experts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition “vision and purpose are based on a set of shared beliefs that:

  • The environmental and social challenges around the global apparel supply system affect the entire industry.
  • These challenges reflect systemic issues which no individual company can solve on their own.
  • Pre-competitive collaboration can accelerate improvement in environmental and social performance for the industry as a whole and reduce cost for individual companies.
  • This collaboration enables individual companies to focus more resources on product and process innovation.
  • Credible, practical, and universal standards and tools for defining and measuring environmental and social performance support the individual interests of all stakeholders.”

Desired Environmental and Social Outcomes includes: Water Use & Quality, Energy/Greenhouse Gas, Waste, Land Use, Air emissions, Chemicals/Toxicity and Social/Labor.

In order to measure the progress achieved the coalition is developing a set of tools. The first one is Version 1.0 of the Sustainable Apparel Index, it is now only a  primarily “indicator” , but it will evolve towards a metrics-based tool.  It enables companies to evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and social practices and product design choices through the entire apparel life cycle. It was based largely on the Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool and the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index. The participating organization hopes that by collaborating to create more uniform, broadly defined tools for measuring sustainability, and for collective actions to drive innovations in products, will help to raise awareness in consumers and apparel industry.

Sustainable Apparel Index tool structure (version 1)

As the Guardian stated in “Clothing industry giants launch sustainable apparel coalition”: “Should the Sustainable Apparel Coalition succeed, its focus on improving on supply chain performance could become a model for other industries. More efficient, energy-saving, and transparent supply chains not only reduce costs, but lessen the human costs that put too high of a price tag on what are often cheap clothes.

Cheers, Donato

Cloud Computing and Green IT

Sustainability of cloud computing is becoming an “hot issue” because a global shift to booming social networking, mobile computing replacing PCs, cloud based services (PAAS, IAS, SAAS) replacing on premises resources. The following ones are some examples of what’s on about this topic, involving companies providing cloud services and infrastructures and NGOs that are launching viral marketing campaigns. I’ve also discussed shortly about it during the A&S-IACCM webinar.

Greenpeace in February 2011 issued a challenge to Facebook, calling on it “to embrace a clean energy future by committing by Earth Day (April 22nd) to make a plan that would end its use of coal to provide electricity to the company’s rapidly expanding computer network”. It follows the: “Facebook: Unfriend Coal” campaign, that Greenpeace launched to:
  • Increase Facebook’s use of clean energy;
  • Develop a plan to mitigate Facebook’s climate footprint and to become coal free by 2021;
  • Educate Facebook users about how the company powers its services.
  • Advocate for clean energy at a local, national and international level.

and published the document: “Make IT Green: Cloud computing and its contribution to climate change

As cloud computing becomes more common and demands on the internet grow, major companies hosting online services are using more and more energy for their data centers. This report looks at the contribution of cloud computing to climate change and what can be done by the ICT sector to help bring about, and benefit from, strong renewable energy policies and economy-wide emissions reductions.

On April 21, 2011 GreenPeace has released another report “How Dirty is Your Data” about the energy demands of data centers, and the dirty sources that that energy comes from in some of them.

From the Introduction : “Data centres to house the explosion of virtual information currently consume 1.5-2% of all global electricity; this is growing at a rate of  12% a year.”

Open Compute Project

Open Compute Project

On the Facebook side it’s interesting to look at Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative, inspired by the model of open source software, to share specifications and best practices for creating “the most energy efficient and economical data centers”. A small team of Facebook engineers spent the past two years tackling a big challenge: how to scale our computing infrastructure in the most efficient and economical way possible. They started with a clean slate, take total control over every part of the system, from the software to the servers to the data center. This meant they could for example:

  •  Use an high efficency 480-volt electrical distribution system to reduce energy loss. Ethernet-powered LED lighting.
  • Remove anything in our servers that didn’t contribute to efficiency. Use vanity free servers, with no extra plastic and significantly fewer parts than traditional servers
  • Reuse hot aisle air in winter to both heat the offices and the outside air flowing into the data center. The mechanical system uses 100% airside economization with an evaporative cooling system.
  • Eliminate the need for a central uninterruptible power supply.

The claimed result is that the Prineville data center has achieved an initial power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.07, compared with an average of 1.5 for the existing Facebook facilities; it uses 38% less energy to do the same work while costing 24% less. The specifications are available at http://opencompute.org/.

On the same topic, to get a more global vision I should suggest you to read these posts:

And these White Papers:

Originally posted on Feb 24th, 2011 Updated on May 5th, 2011

Amsterdam a leading Smart City

Probably the European town that is now the most committed to sustainability by leveraging the “Smart city” approach is Amsterdam. The Minister Jacqueline Cramer of VROM (Housing, Regional Development and Environment) declared on 3 June 2009 when launching the “Amsterdam Smart City” initiative: It is a very daring, ambitious plan. These are also the goals of Amsterdam endorsement of Accenture Intelligent City Network. Companies and local government institutions work together in different fields to make the city more energy-saving. This approach not only benefits the environment and health of Amsterdam citizens, but also the spending power and employment. This is the way the cabinet of the Netherlands likes to see it: municipalities addressing the climate and credit crisis at the same time. The experiences gained from Amsterdam amongst others can be applied elsewhere in the world.

Amsterdam Smart City is an ongoing effort lead by Liander, regional grid operator and Amsterdam Innovation Motor (AIM); within a two-year period, fifteen projects will be implemented in the sustainable focus areas: Working, Living, Mobility and Public Space. Many companies such as IBM, Accenture and CISCO are involved in this project or other related ones. For example Cisco will develop the network to connect household appliances to an energy management system; IBM will create the network inside the home, including connecting the home network to the web; Accenture will manage the integration of smart grid technology such as smart meters, oversee the analysis and use of data gleaned from the smart grid buildout, and support other carbon-reducing projects, and Dutch utility Nuon will develop the applications for the energy management system. Amsterdam Smart City is also partly financed by the European Fund for regional development of the European Commission. For Example Amsterdam has more than 500 km of cycle tracks and lanes, plus 900 km of bicycle friendly roads (60% of the total amount) with speed ramps and a maximum speed of 30 km/h. Amsterdam as a whole city has 740 car sharing spots (200 in the center). 90% of all housing in Amsterdam is within 400 m of a car sharing spot and in the center 80% has a car sharing spot within less than 100 m. The ultimate goal of Amsterdam Smart City is to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2025, a feat that would place it ahead of many other cities in the Netherlands and Europe and, perhaps, attract an increasingly sustainability-minded population.

In the newsletters for example the following projects, to reduce energy use, CO2 emissions, congestion and noise, were announced:

  • The Utrechtsestraat in the Amsterdam city centre will be transformed into a Climate street, the most sustainable shopping street in Europe in cooperation with the local entrepreneurs and several enterprises. Multiple stakeholders are learning which technologies, concepts, approach and forms of cooperation are most successful to make the public space, more sustainable on a large scale. The  following Sustainable Working initiatives are planned: Smart meters & grid, Energy feedback display,  Energy scan trough the Energy desk of the Climate agency of Amsterdam, Smart plugs.  Climate Street wants to test what can be possible with the integration of: energy management systems, solar panels, water management and rubbish disposal, guided by smart grid technology, which prompts items to run on time and with the greatest efficiency. Recently the 39 energy scans in the entrepreneur’s area has yielded measures that make cost reductions of almost € 60,000 per year and environmental savings of 172,922 kg CO2 per year possible. In the last few months the first 19 entrepreneurs received a Plugwise set that was installed in their shop/restaurant, giving them insight into their energy use. The Quby of Home Automation Europe, that is used in the Climate street, recently won the “Smart Grids Innovation Award 2011”.
  • The ITO tower in the Amsterdam Zuidas area will be made sustainable with the help of the latest smart building technology for energy saving.
  • Children are learning to use energy economically at primary schools, also using an online portal.
  • 250 households testing new energy management systems in Haarlem, where Lianderin cooperation with Plugwise, provides smart plugs to enable consumers to make more informed decisions about their energy consumption.
  • Onze Energie” (Our energy) program: residents own in a cooperative a windmill park.
  • JCDecaux and Ziut introduce the GrauaLight Dimmer, an intelligent system to dim the lights in street furniture (e.g.  bus shelters, city light panels and billboards) to save up to 40% energy, while maintaining maximum visibility for outdoor advertising posters.
  • The Transmission & Distribution Europe / Smart Grids Europe Congress was held in Amsterdam from 29 to 31 March 2010. The focus of the congress was on how to create an energy system that will be stable, sustainable and profitable, now and in the future, and on developments in the field of smart grids. Amsterdam also hosted to the Smart Grids, Smart Cities, Smart Future Congress that was held on 9 and 10 November 2010. The congress was dedicated to the discussion on the development of smart networks and related issues. A great deal of attention was given to the different Smart Cities: Boulder, Amsterdam, Masdar, Malaga and Malta.
  • The Amsterdam Harbour officially put its new electric charging points into commission at the beginning of February (a similar effort was taken in Venice). As of now, all moored inland navigation and river-cruise vessels are bound to use this sustainable electricity. This is clean and sustainable and generates less noise and less CO2 emissions, and therefore promotes cleaner air.
  • By showing municipal swimming pools sustainable initiatives, these public spaces can learn how to use their energy more wisely. Amsterdam Smart City introduces several sustainable initiatives and technologies, such as the liquid swimming pool covering of HeatSavr, that being lighter than water it counters evaporation.
  • The living lab movement is growing rapidly in Europe. With already 150 locations in the European network of Living Labs. The leading living labs in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Finland joined forces and started the Apollon project, which focuses on eHealth and energy efficiency. New solutions are tested across national borders to enhance cooperation.
  • On 20 April 2011, in NEMO Science Center, two years of results will be presented. Four sub areas, 14 projects, more than 50 partners; everything will be on show. The programme will consist of a plenary session, inspiring workshops and panel discussions.

Several best practices are documented: deploying smart grids, testing smart meters and “smart” energy applications with customers on site is a main area of activity for cities. For instance:

  • Amsterdam plans to invest 200 million Euro in a smart grid, particularly investing in the network mid-level. Distributed energy generation is only possible with intense management, regulation of demand and supply through ICT because renewable sources have an higher variability (think of spikes due to clouds in concentrated photovoltaic, quick variable wind speed, plug-in hybrid and electric car connected to recharge stations, smart appliances in home automation or the security risk in case of attempts to hacker the power grid).

Amsterdam is also member of the Connected Urban Development (CUD) cities with San Francisco, Amsterdam, Seoul, Birmingham, Hamburg, Lisbon, and Madrid. It’s a leading initiative with CISCO that aims to demonstrate how to leverage ICT, above all high connectivity and collaboration, in order to reduce carbon emissions, delivering innovative, sustainable models for urban planning and economic development.

The IQPC’s Smart Cities Summit, taking place February 23-24 in Rotterdam, will be an opportunity to learn Smart City best practices from Amsterdam and other European frontrunners

A&S: some updates on Sustainable Procurement

I’m sorry for being lazy in updating this blog, so I’m starting with some news related to Acquisti & Sostenibilità, more are available on the A&S Web. Some of them may sound loosely linked to the scope of this blog but as the February 2010 green report: “A Green ICT Framework – Understanding and measuring Green ICT” by “Connection Research” states “Green ICT goes beyond the ICT function and the ICT department – in many ways ICT, and Green ICT, is a central enabling technology to many aspects of sustainability. In very many cases ICT provides the measurement tool, the data repository, the reporting mechanism and the mitigation techniques that make sustainability possible.

  • A&S has changed the logo pay-off (as you can see also here) from “Procure-Sustain-Manage” to “Inspiring Sustainable Supply Chain” in order to reinforce the message that A&S “encourages a Sustainable SUPPLY CHAIN and the sustainability across the Supply Chain”.
  • Several companies helped A&S to finalize the “A&S buyers guide”:

o   AIRPLUS INTERNATIONAL, International leading travel payment company and A&S Corporate membership since 2008, contributed to the section on sustainable purchase of business travel.

o   An European leading paper mill and packaging industry, A&S Corporate membership since 2007, sustainable purchase of paper.

o   ARVAL, European leading long term vehicle renting company and A&S Corporate membership since 2008, contributed to the section on sustainable purchase of company fleet cars.

  • A&S is partner of ORSE (Observatoire sur la Responsabilité Sociétale des Entreprises) and Ecovadis, for the promotion in Italy (in Italian language) of the “Study on the reporting of European, North American and Asian Global Companies on Sustainable Procurement”
  • LYRECO, European leading office supplies company, became A&S Corporate Member in 2007 and renewed its commitment for the following years. Green office supplies are part of LYRECO products portfolio, but more than this, their human resources passion for sustainability is significant.
  • HEC (recently ranked first in the TOP20 European business school ranking of Financial Times) selected A&S, as sole partner for Italy, for its annual study on trends and execution of sustainable procurement practices. Results will be available in the second half of 2011, A&S will translate the full document in Italian.
  • 2011 will herald a new era in sustainable procurement and sustainability will become a mainstream skill for procurement professionals. The main reason is the publication of BS 8903, the world’s first standard for sustainable procurement practice. The Action Sustainability one-day conference Sustainable Procurement Conference on 10th of February 2011 in London will bring together global visionaries and leaders from some of the world’s largest organizations to discuss best practice and shape the future of sustainable procurement basing on BS 8903. A&S is very proud to be part of that important event!
  • Last but not least on January 28th at “Fondazione Serbelloni” – Palazzo Serbelloni – Corso Venezia, 16 in Milano the annual conference of A&S supporters will be held

If you don’t already know A&S you can browse www.acquistiesostenibilita.org or Join “Friends of Acquisti&Sostenibilità” on LinkedIn or to be kept up to date with the latest sustainable procurement news, best practice case studies and A&S events, click http://www.acquistiesostenibilita.org/newsletter.asp to sign up for the A&S monthly e-newsletter.

The birth of THINK! : The Innovation Knowledge Foundation

On October, 14th 2010 was announced the birth of “THINK! – The Innovation Knowledge Foundation“, an independent, international no-profit foundation whose mission is to spread the culture of innovation and promote the use of digital technologies as a means of favoring economic growth, the quality of life and human development in general.

Under the guidance of Roberto Masiero, in his new role as President of THINK!, the Foundation intends to make use of the knowledge of innovation as factor of growth, productivity and development. In order to achieve these ambitious objectives THINK! will draw on the collaboration of an authoritative Scientific Committee of prestigious economic, financial, industrial and academic specialists, and the contributions of an extended network of international affiliated experts.

The THINK! Foundation has the following aims:

  • to establish a research institute or “think tank” to collect, process, share and spread information concerning the use of ICT, digital and science-driven technologies in order to overcome the digital divide and promote innovation processes, human development and the quality of life in an era characterised by the central importance of energy issues and envirenmental sustainability;
  • to support public leaders and decision makers by helping them to understand and stimulate the new economy of innovation through the discussion and analysis of case studies of the use of ICT, digital and other new technologies to favour economic growth and the competitiveness of companies, industries and economies as a whole;
  • to promote and support no-profit programmes and initiatives based on the use of information and digital technologies with the aim of promoting economic growth and human development in mature, emerging and developing countries.

The Foundation will undertake a wide range of research activities that will give rise to a series of papers intended to clarify the broad scenarios of change and (more pragmatically) support public and private decision makers in selecting the innovation processes to be introduced into companies and other organizations, as well as into local and national government policies.

I authored one of them : The Smart City vision: How Innovation and ICT can build smart, “liveable”, sustainable cities.

You are all invited to contribute to this effort!

Smart Grid

With this post I’m experimenting a different longer format because the smart grid topic is very broad and complex.

According to ERGEG (European Regulators’ Group for Electricity and Gas) defining what is a “smart grid” is not easy, their attempt is probably one of the most exhaustive: (citation from E09-EQS-30-04, 10 December 2009) “Though elements of smartness also exist in many parts of existing grids, the difference between today’s grid and a smart grid of the future is mainly the grid’s capability to handle more complexity than today in an efficient and effective way. This increased complexity is due to, inter alia:

  • Massive implementation of distributed generation at LV and MV level including the need for an efficient regulatory treatment of license applications;
  • Implementation of large intermittent generation located geographically far away from the load centers;
  • Changes in customers’ behavior (i.e. an active demand side);
  • Reduction of losses (e.g. through appropriate distributed generation which is located close to areas with high consumption);
  • Increased use of self-healing technologies.

I just should add to the previous list that: a smart grid can combine an increasing amount of sensor data, distributed embedded processing and analytic intelligence with bidirectional and distributed generation, proactive actions and storage, in order to improve reliability and lower both economical and environmental costs, while extending coverage and availability (400 millions Indians still have no access to electricity, just 44% of rural households have access to it). All stakeholders of a smart grid n-way infrastructure, including householders and appliances constructors, can be directly involved in the real time trading of energy, balancing their needs, costs and investments.

According to the SMART 2020 report (by The Climate Group on behalf of the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), with independent analysis by McKinsey & Company):  ICT could drive efficiency across the economy and deliver emission savings of 15%-7.8GtCO2e – of global BAU emissions in 2020; Smart grids alone is the biggest and most accessible opportunities for achieving savings because it can contribute up to 2.03 GtCO2e in 2020, worth €79 billion. A detailed case on the effect of smart grid was done for India to prove that it’s a winning lever for mitigation of climate changes (electricity generation currently accounts for 57% of India’s total emissions) since: “Reducing T&D losses in India’s power sector by 30% is possible through better monitoring and management of electricity grids, first with smart meters and then by integrating more advanced ICTs into the so-called energy internet”. Smart2020.org organization wrote that just the  optimization of the distribution grid “can reduce electric generation requirements and related carbon by 3 to 5% without impacting on, or requiring any change in, customer behavior. These benefits can be realized as on-going energy efficiency, at peak load or a combination thereof”.  The following figure from the SMART 2020 report shows the estimated global impact of Smart Grid on GHG.

Many smart grid system schemes have sprung up in recent years, ranging from a European effort centered on smart phones to Google’s PowerMeter in alliance with General Electric (its Advanced Distribution Infrastructure solution provides real-time distribution system information and allows utilities to control network assets from the operations center to the customer location). The U.S. economic stimulus package funded $4.5 billion towards implementing the Smart Grid provisions of the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which made the Smart Grid a policy of the United States.  US ARPA-E, a subset of the U.S. Department of Energy, is spending, under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, over $300 million for more than 100 research projects aimed at improving energy efficiency, transmission, and storage. In Europe the Key Performance Indicators of the EUROPEAN INITIATIVE ON SMART CITIES  include within the Energy Networks activity “Establishment of smart grids coupled with smart building and equipment, RES electricity and smart meters. At least 20 pilot schemes by 2015“. An example of the resulting effort is the Amsterdam’s one: it that plans to invest 200 million Euro in a smart grid, particularly in the network mid-level. The Amsterdam effort involves for example:

  • 250 households testing new energy management systems in Haarlem, where Liander in cooperation with Plugwise, is providing smart plugs to enable consumers to make more informed decisions about their energy consumption.
  • JCDecaux and Ziut are introducing the GrauaLight Dimmer, an intelligent system to dim the lights in street furniture (e.g.  bus shelters, city light panels and billboards) to save up to 40% energy, while maintaining maximum visibility for outdoor advertising posters
  • The Transmission & Distribution Europe / Smart Grids Europe Congress was held in Amsterdam from 29 to 31 March 2010. The focus of the congress was on how to create an energy system that will be stable, sustainable and profitable, now and in the future, and on developments in the field of smart grids.

Distributed energy generation is only possible with intense management, regulation of demand and supply through ICT because distributed and variable renewable sources and hourly demands are core issues (think of spikes due to clouds in concentrated photovoltaic, variable wind speed, plug-in hybrid and electric car connected to recharge stations, smart appliances in home automation or the security risk in case of attempts to hacker the power grid).

The well known “Pecan Street Project“, since its launch in 2008, is working  to create, operate, and evaluate an “open platform Energy Internet” – a type of smart grid that allows two-way electricity and information flow, allowing for use, interpretation and change at every point on the system. This Pecan smart grid model is based on the Internet’s architecture: “Think of it as Energy 2.0”. Pecan project has representatives from: City of Austin, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin Energy, Austin Technology Incubator, Environmental Defense Fund, The University of Texas at Austin. The City of Austin has been designated as the project’s clean energy laboratory for designing and implementing: “an energy generation and management system that generates a power plant’s worth of power from clean sources within the city limits and delivers it over an advanced delivery system that allows for unprecedented customer energy management and conservation“.

The “smart grid” will integrate advanced functions into the nation’s electric grid to enhance reliability, efficiency, and security, and would also contribute to the climate change strategic goal of reducing carbon emissions. These advancements will be achieved by modernizing the electric grid with information-age technologies, such as microprocessors, communications, advanced computing, and information technologies. The Pecan project includes web and mobile applications to allow householders monitor near real time their energy usage data, renewable distributed generators and smart appliances and meters, data collection and analysis, water conservation, etc. Corporate partners include: Applied Materials, Cisco, Dell, Freescale, GE, GridPoint, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Semantech.

Several global companies are leading in the smart grid race:

(disclaimer: I’m providing here some examples that are not exhaustive neither attempt to provide a score to the involved companies)

Accenture launched several initiatives related to smart grids, basing on its experience in the utility markets and ICT technology:

·         “Intelligent Network Data Enterprise” (INDE) that “enables utilities to manage, integrate and analyze real-time data generated by millions of disparate sources throughout a utility’s smart grid network.  Transforming the data into actionable and predictive insights allows a utility to take actions to increase operational performance“. INDE provides utilities with the blueprint, tools, processes, services, databases, analytics and visualization capabilities.  Its solution architecture was applied at Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCityTM, in Boulder, CO, US and it’s used as a blueprint for a large number of projects. INDE is based on three layers:

o   The software layer between “raw” data from the grid and the utility’s existing operations and enterprise IT systems, acting  like a central nervous system.

o   The integration platform unifying heterogeneous components (i.e. communications, smart meters, intelligent network components and sensors).  It aims at building an open, standards-based data acquisition, transport, event processing and storage architecture.

o   The visualization capabilities to better observe use analytics and manage intelligent device components.  A full energy service energy company need to manage an enormous, growing amount of data and information with proper meta-data and analytics solutions.

·         “The Accenture Intelligent City Network” that involves by invitation selected smart cities, like Boulder (CO, US) and Amsterdam (NL), and innovative utilities, like Xcel Energy and Alliander, to share information about their best practices in leveraging technologies like smart grids and new transformational approaches to the environmental issues.  The first objective is “Drive action to tackle smart grid challenge and reduce the implementation time through technology, operational effectiveness and behavioural change”

The IBM Smart planet strategic initiative has Smart Grid as a core component working on several nationwide efforts like: The island-nation of Malta that is building the world’s first national smart grid, which will also monitor the country’s water systems; China, that has embarked on a decade-long smart power grid program: the State Grid Corporation of China. The company is currently working on seven of the world’s ten largest automated meter management projects. Now utilities have access to an increasing amount of sensor data and digitized information (including for example weather data) that can be interconnected, so that information flows between them creating additional value. IBM states that the newly available information can be used for intelligent and informed decision making by predictive analytics IBM has also created the Green Sigma Coalition, with ABB, Cisco, Eaton, ESS, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, SAP, Schneider Electric, and Siemens. An ecosystem of partnership is needed to combine various skills and services to meld not only energy demand from HVAC, lighting and temperature control systems with security and other services, within buildings and over groups of buildings and factories.

Microsoft teamed up with several industry partners, like Puget Sound Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District , Seattle City Light, Xcel Energy, Itron Inc., Blue Line Innovations PowerCost Monitor, Ford and Landis+Gyr, to make easier for consumers to automatically access granular energy consumption data for electricity and gas, in order to support a smart grid effort. By Microsoft Hohm, a free Web-based beta application built on Azure (a cloud computing environment) householders can better understand their home energy usage, get recommendations to conserve energy and start saving by smarter decisions. Hohm uses advanced analytics, licensed from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy, to give highly personalized energy saving recommendations, that are tailored based on specific household circumstances, including home attributes and use of appliances and systems. Users are invited to compare their energy usage with others in the same neighborhood, or across the country and share advices and results, leveraging social networking and “ask the expert” approach in building awareness.  An SDK allows Microsoft partners to integrate with the system, to facilitates communication between the utility company and their customers, and helps consumers keep track of home maintenance and improvement tasks. In the future utilities should be able to implement “demand side management” to reduce, as previously agreed with customers, the energy consumed by specific appliances during peak hours, for example switching off or setting thermostats of  air conditioning or postponing the start of washing machine.

The most known Google effort related to sustainability is probably Google Power Meter, done in partnership with General Electric and several other utilities and power meters builders. Google Power Meter helps citizens in monitoring their home electricity usage by Google Power Meter, a free on-line energy monitoring tool that helps users save energy and money. It uses energy information provided by utilities, smart meters and energy monitoring devices. Google claims that consumers using Power Meter can see in near real-time how much energy they are using: with simple behavioral changes they can save up to 15% of their electricity use, and even more with smart electricity pricing and investments in energy efficiency. Google has recently  opened up the PowerMeter’s API making much easier for home networking vendors to integrate their products.

CISCO is creating a Smart Grid Ecosystem  and a Smart Grid Technical Advisory Board to facilitate the adoption of IP based communications standards for smart grids that will benefit the energy industry as well as business and residential customers.

General Electric is focusing on smart grid, as a core component of its CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, who wanted to be on the forefront of the green revolution,  for example G.E. is opening a new smart grid technology center in Atlanta, Georgia, in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, that shoud create 400 cleantech jobs over the next three years. It also presented the Wattstation, an electric vehicle charger that is smart-grid compatible and Nucleus, a communication and data storage device that provides consumers with secure information about their household electricity use and costs so they can make more informed choices.

G.E. has also a very strong communication efforts to a larger public on the Ecomagination site, using animation and augmented reality to make it more appealing and launching “the biggest quest for ideas in history: GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid,” an open innovation challenge that will give $200 million to smart grid ideas submitted through GE’s ecomagination website (a clever use of crowd sourcing). I also notice the post “Why Don’t Consumers Get The Smart Grid?” by David Leeds where he explain that: “To utilities, a smarter grid will lay the foundation for technologies that seemed outlandishly futuristic a few years ago: electric cars, cities that can insulate themselves from rolling blackouts, homes automatically tuning themselves to the weather and alternative energy that can compete economically with coal. But to consumers, the smart grid so far is an extra charge on their bill they don’t particularly like. Why don’t consumers seem to care about the smart grid? The answer in part lies in a lack of awareness. A recent poll conducted by General Electric found that 79 percent of Americans were unfamiliar with the term, but those that understood it generally supported its goals.” Also Mark Scott form Business Week warned one year ago that: “Yet despite the cost savings, consumer advocates still caution that not everyone will benefit from smart meters. Vulnerable groups, particularly the poor and elderly, may become victims to price spikes. And privacy concerns that utilities could use the data collected through smart meters without the permission of customers still dog many potential rollouts“. An answer to these concerns will probably be provided by a new organization created by an alliance of consumer electronics and technology companies (including G.E. and IBM), retailers, utility firms and consumer groups: the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC).

An unusual approach has been taken by GroundedPower, a start-up founded by a small team of experts “who understand the psychological and behavioral processes that people use to interact with technology”. They are applying behavioral science principles and collaborative software design to the problem of consumer driven energy management and efficiency. Heterogeneous experts (i.e. utility management, energy policy, IP & wireless networking, web based and collaborative software development and behavioral/cognitive psychology) are working together to create a real-time, interactive, consumer-driven energy management platform that provides the tools required to engage, motivate and empower consumers to more effectively use and manage energy. It combines real-time energy monitoring with an integrated suite of consumer engagement and behavioral tools. Householders can compare and compete with peers or earn rewards in a social-networking type interface. This approach leverage active learning processes, social networking  and social gaming to keep customers coming back to learn more and take further actions to save energy and money.

It might be less obvious that not only energy (utilities), construction (home automation and remote energy monitoring) and ICT are involved with smart grids. For example transportation is depending on smart grid to support the development of an electricity grid for hybrid and electric vehicles. As a matter of fact the impact on the electricity grid of a growing number of plug-in vehicles may be disruptive if not properly planned and managed. The opposite is probably not true:  even if electric vehicles and distributed renewable generation fail in the market, the smart grid is still needed to manage expensive peak demand and provide improved power reliability and lower prices.

One of the transportation related company that is betting on the sustainability green revolution is Renault that writes: “Electric vehicles are in phase with current public issues. They are silent and, because they emit no CO2, NOx or particulate matter, they also respect the environment.” This result will be achieved by changing the market rules with a new vision that is specifically attractive in a smart city: “you will buy an electric vehicle, rent a battery and sign a contract to use recharge stations located in the street, near the office and in parking lots.” Electric cars will probably match with the car sharing approach, leveraging the role of ICT and smart grids for security, flexible cost and payment, reservation, location based services, planning. Electric car batteries and ultra capacitors can play also a strategic storage role, helping in managing demand peaks (charge batteries according to planned usage and lower night energy cost, but also sell energy during short peak time or avoid peak load when all people return home and plug-in their cars) in a bi-directional electricity grid, enabling a smarter energy trading extended  to end users (the integration will involve also home automation and smart appliances). Obviously this is not an easy problem, for this reason multiple alliances have been established for electric vehicle involving car makers like Renault-Nissan or utilities like RDF, RWE, Enel or A2A in Italy (where Enel is leading in EU with more than 32 millions smart meters that  have been already installed and managed for remote metering and hourly based pricing, compared with 38 million smart meter installed in U.S.), up to the revolutionary start-up “Better Place” (that has a partnership agreement also with Renault-Nissan). A newer version of Microsoft hohm should work in concert with Ford’s Focus would decide the best time to charge cars at lowest cost (such as late at night) and could eventually allow homeowners to tap their charged car batteries to help power home appliances and cut costs.

Better Place it’s a venture that aims “to reduce global dependency on oil distribution infrastructure through the creation of a market-based transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles“. Better Place will provide not only a battery rental model and optimized recharge stations, but also a quick service of battery switching stations and ICT services, to take care of optimized location and travel planning for battery recharge or replace (in only two minutes). The expensive lithium batteries are not bought by the users, they are rented and owned by Better Place that track them by GPS & GPRS. This high tech solution, combined with country based agreement,  such as in Denmark and Israel plus other 25 regions, will make electric cars more attractive not only for the prevailing short travels in city usage that are already compatible with battery capacity, but also for longer, even if less frequent, intercity travels. The approach is derived by the charging model of Cellular phone industry, where customers contract for minutes and often lease the phone. It also put in evidence the role of financial and infrastructure services in the building of smart grids and smart transportation because there is a strong need of combining economies of scale with reliability to make it feasible. I think it is enlightening what was Posted by Amit Nisenbaum, Head of Subsidiaries Enablement “The giants of Silicon Valley are typically of the information technology type, from Google to Intel, Facebook to Microsoft. Now that the cleantech industry is running alongside the IT industry as the high-growth place to be, we see human talent migrating from one industry to the other, and finding different practices when they get there.

In the long run I should guess that “Internet of things” (or M2M) may converge with “Smart Grid” in managing interconnected information, knowledge, sensors, actuators and energy to power them in a sustainable holistic global network.



Announcing the World Smart City Forum

On July 1st at the “Arsenale” of Venice, Italy, a terrific masterpiece of pre-industrial archeology, where the historic vessels were built, allowing Venice to become a powerful republic, opening the door to commercial trade between Europe, Mediterranean sea and Far East (including Marco Polo’s famous travel to China), I was directly involved in an exciting event related also to the impact of Green ICT on sustainability:

The Innovation group announced during VeneziaCamp 2010 the launch of “World Smart City Forum, to be held next year in the same place, with a broader participation of experts and stakeholders representatives.

I’m providing here just some insight from my presentation and the founder’s one more related to the scope of this blog, since a short recording is available in the following link (sorry that the speeches were in Italian since VeniceCamp 2010 public was mostly Italians, obviously we plan for a more international event next year, above all for speakers and Best Practices in smart & sustainable cities):

Why Cities are so important to achieve sustainability:

55% of the world population already lives in a city, by 2050: Urban population should reach 70%. Cities occupy 2% of the world’s geography but account for 75% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, (but as David Owen proved in his book “Green Metropolis” average people living in cities have a lower impact than ones in rural, dispersed environment in developed countries). The 100 largest cities account for and 25% of GDP. This drive for cities to cut carbon emissions and increase the energy received from renewable sources and efficiency, while providing better services and leverage e-democracy.

Smart City to Serve the Community, the Environment , the Culture and the Economic Sustainable Recovery

  • A “smart” city is a city that makes a conscious effort to uptake innovative ICT based solutions to:

–      Improve conditions of living, studying, working  and enjoying social relations

–      Support a more open, inclusive, efficient and sustainable urban environment.

  • This open and holistic model, empowered by a smart City leadership, enables:

–      A seamless creative environment involving the relevant city players and stakeholders

–      Environment sustainability aligned with the Economic and employment development while addressing social inclusion and cultural growth.

A great example is the Network of European Smart Cities (Eurocities) by Vienna University of Technology since it provides  an Holistic View, from which I derived next slide:

This means to address the role of ICT in increasing the efficiency and lowering waste of resources of a smart city as a complex system of systems as in this slide:

I should conclude this first excerpt on Smart City Forum with the following slide that summarize the Innovation Group approach to this topic:



Mobile Green 2.0 Application

Mobile devices offer many opportunities to help in reducing the usage of paper and ink, fuel when driving that’s may be good for saving resources. Other apps goes further in order to measure your GHG contribution from travelling or choosing greener product.

For example Houdah Software released ACTPrinter for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. With ACTPrinter 1.8 all your documents (electronic tickets, boarding passes, bar codes) can travel with you on your iPad or iPhone saving the need to print them.  It serves as a printer for “virtual paper” stored on iPhone or iPod touch. Documents finally become mobile. Electronic tickets attain ultimate convenience. Bar codes may be scanned right off the display of your iPhone or iPod touch. ACTPrinter acts also as PDF viewer to other applications. Unfortunately it’s only designed for Mac.

Other great example of iPhone Green Apps are:

GreenCard: lets users share contact information without the paper trail and cuts the cost of business cards, by letting users create digital business cards which they can share with contacts in their iPhone. Plus, if you modify the card to reflect new info, the app will automatically send contacts the update.

Fuel Saver: uses the phone’s accelerometer to sense when drivers are speeding, accelerating too hard or braking harshly, all behaviors that use excessive amounts of fuel. By sounding a series of beeps when it detects bad driving behavior, the app teaches drivers to cruise in a more fuel-efficient manner.

Obviously other mobile phones maker are providing good tools, for example Green Charging is a Nokia application that will assist you in saving power and hence, assists in curbing Global Warming. This unique application will be useful when the user will charge his/ her phone. The application will notify the user (with sound effects) when the battery is fully charged.

Nokia has also launched a new web-based service and a Web Runtime widget, entitled Green Explorer, “to provide sustainable tips and advice on how to live green and travel clean. You can share your experiences and ideas and help make a world of difference. The service is designed to help you decide where to go, how to get there and what to do when you’re there. The idea pushes the environmental aspect by trying to provide small solutions and actions which when combined have a greater impact on the environment.”

In the Android Market for example you can find Ecorio. It is a download and forget type of app. In the setup, you set your primary transportation type. Once set, Ecorio periodically checks, using GPS, your location. If you have moved from your initial location, it will calculate the approximate amount of CO2 generated by your primary mode of transportation (i.e. bicycle, public transportation, or one of a wide range of car makes and models). It is easy to go back in to the day’s trips and re-define the mode of transportation. Although the carbon dioxide emissions are only an estimate, they are a fairly close estimate. Ecorio has a couple of very useful features for trip planning. For short trips, it links to Google Maps to find the best public transportation route. In some towns it also ties in to ZimRide, a carpooling community. Ecorio is also a social geo networking site. If you want to offset your carbon emissions, Ecorio offers a number of certified carbon offset projects, including the Chicago Climate Exchange. Offsets can be purchased from your phone. The cost of the offset will depend on the project currently being supported by Ecorio.

For an i-phone similar app look at Commute Greener, accessible through your mobile phone and the web to:  set your target for reducing your personal CO2 footprint, see the progress against your personal CO2 reduction targets, share experiences in a trusted, online community

But my favorite (also reported by Daniel Goleman in his book “Ecological Intelligence”) free app is GoodGuide iPhone App (a text messaging version for other phones is available). It helps you find safe, healthy, and sustainable products while you shop. Simply scan the barcode of the product and immediately see detailed ratings for health, environment and social responsibility for more than 50,000 products and companies. GoodGuide provides this information about personal care, household chemical, toy and food products and is adding thousands of products every month. By making information about consumer products transparent, GoodGuide’s goal is to help people shop smarter and motivate companies to offer even better products.

Best Regards