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Governments and businesses face significant changes from megatrends like population growth, urbanization, climate change and natural resource constraints. We help our clients understand and act on these issues so they can thrive in this changing world.


Green Button: What You Need to Know

April 15, 2015

As the volatility in energy prices and the importance of carbon emissions continues to grow, energy management and reporting are becoming increasingly strategic practices. An effective energy management plan can reduce operating costs, demonstrate sustainability performance improvements and support transparency. Currently, energy use data comes from utility providers in many different formats, making energy data acquisition, aggregation and the subsequent analysis a time- and resource-intensive process. Ontario’s Green Button standard aims to remove this barrier when accessing electricity data, while encouraging widespread energy analytics.


What is it?

The Green Button standard has two components that provide a way to access and share building electricity consumption data in a consistent format.

The Download My Data (DMD) Standard

The Green Button Download My Data (DMD) standard allows customers to download their electricity consumption data directly from their utility provider’s web portal in a consistent, electronic format, regardless of which utility provider it is coming from. The downloaded data is in an XML format that can be shared with any solution provider for analysis.

The Connect My Data (CMD) Standard

The Green Button Connect My Data (CMD) standard automatically transfers electricity consumption data directly from the utility to a third-party service provider of the customer’s choice with their consent. The CMD standard allows service providers to offer innovative and interactive tools, such as mobile apps, that provide information to help property managers or residents better manage their property’s electricity consumption. Useful features like alerts, analytics, reports and graphs can help building owners and managers reduce their electricity costs by taking corrective actions.

What are the benefits?

Green Button makes it easier and more cost effective for building owners and managers to collect electricity data from all of their buildings in a consistent format, including buildings served by different utility providers. This not only streamlines the reporting process but also improves data accuracy by bypassing manual data entry. Managers spend less time collecting utility data and more time analyzing trends, communicating results and taking action.

Green Button is also expected to support energy cost savings, tenant engagement, and market innovation for energy management solutions. For example, Green Button solutions can help save on energy costs by providing alerts when a consumption target has been reached. Green Button supports tenant engagement by making it easier to present electricity consumption information in ways that boost energy literacy and awareness. The CMD standard, in particular, spurs innovation and development in the market for energy management apps and other solutions by providing clean, reliable data from various sources in a common format.

Who is involved?

Green Button was launched in Ontario by the Ontario Ministry of Energy and MaRS Discovery District in November 2012. To date, ten utilities, representing 60% of Ontario consumers, have adopted the DMD standard for residential and small-business customers.

Green Button DMD Utilities in Ontario

  • Festival Hydro
  • Guelph Hydro
  • Hydro One
  • Hydro Ottawa
  • London Hydro
  • North Bay Hydro
  • Peterborough Utilities Group
  • PowerStream
  • Toronto Hydro
  • Utilities Kingston

In its Supplemental Report on Smart Grid, the Ontario Energy Board requires electric utilities to enable standardized, secure and electronic access to energy consumption data for consumers and consumer-authorized third parties. The Ontario Ministry of Energy also references the Green Button standard in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan.

The CMD standard is currently being piloted with London Hydro and Hydro One. During the twelve-month pilot, participating customers will have free access to solutions and apps provided by Energent and BuiltSpace for the commercial sector, and by Zerofootprint and Eyedro Green Solutions Inc., for the residential sector.

Green Button started in the US, where adoption is being driven by government interest. A presidential memorandum directs all federal agencies to incorporate the Green Button data standard. Over 100 million US customers have access to their utility data in the DMD format. A few American utilities have implemented the CMD standard, and over two dozen  Green Button CMD-enabled solutions exist in the marketplace today.

What does the future hold?

  • Discussions are underway with Natural Resources Canada to enable building owners to authorize their Green Button-compatible data to feed directly into Energy Star Portfolio Manager.
  • To date, much of the implementation of the Green Button standards has focused on residential customers. Large commercial customers have yet to get access to data in this format from their utilities.
  • Currently configured for electricity data, the Green Button standard can be extended to natural gas and water meter data in the future as well. Early discussions are underway with key stakeholders in these sectors.

Want to get involved?

To learn more about the Green Button standards and how you can get involved:

  • Visit the Green Button website.
  • Contact the Green Button project management team at MaRS Discovery District via Sasha Sud at ssud@marsdd.com.
  • Contact your local electric or gas utility and let them know you would like to access your data using the Green Button format. Request that your energy partners use this format for electricity consumption data transfer and reporting.


Anna Melnik
Anna Melnik Sustainability Analyst
+1 416 644-0494, 272