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Winning App Helps Commercial Buildings Get Energy Star Benchmark

Melon, an app that simplifies the process of getting an Energy Star benchmark for a commercial building, was one of the big winners in the US government’s Energy for Apps competition.

The Melon app delivers an Energy Star score and suggest next steps to improve efficiency and reduce waste, once a building manager supplies basic building information and energy use. A Washington, D.C.-based startup developed the app, which won second prize for overall best app.

The US Energy Department-sponsored Energy for Apps contest was launched this spring to challenge software developers to build apps for mobile phones, computers and tablets based on Green Button data, to help customers use less energy and save money.

Green Button is a White House-Energy Department program that’s pushing for a universal, simple-to-use format to allow electricity customers to access their energy use data. Green Button was designed around an open standard to encourage innovation among website and software developers.

Pacific Gas & Electric was an early adopter and installed the feature on its website. Since then, a number of utilities and smart grid vendors have committed to providing Green Button data to its customers.

Other winners in the competition:

  • Leafully, the overall grand prize winner, developed an app that helps utility customers visualize their Green Button data as a variety of units, such as the amount of tress needed to offset an individual’s energy use. The brainchild of Seattle-based team Timothy Edgar and Nathan Jhaver, Leafully encourages users to set energy savings goals and to share their progress on Facebook.
  • Cleantech software and services company Zerofootprint was awarded best overall third prize for its VELObill app, which makes it easier for utility customers to view their energy use, gauge whether it’s high or low and, compare it to that of their peers.
  • A team of University of California, Irvine students won the best overall student prize for their Wotz app, which lets users explore and play with Green Button data.
  • Budget It Yourself, a collaborative project from a team of students at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art, won the best student app second prize. The app helps users track their energy use and make energy-savings goals.
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