Pecan Street Inc., USA
Title: Using big data to unlock and catalyze community climate change mitigation action: A roadmap and case studies from Pecan Street Inc.
Suzanne Russo is Chief Operating Officer of Pecan Street Inc., a not-for-profit energy and water research & development organization headquartered in Austin, Texas. Pecan Street is known for its unique living labs approach to accelerating innovation in clean energy, distributed energy economies, and residential water conservation. Prior to joining Pecan Street in 2010, Suzanne served as Director of Sustainability Initiatives for New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development where she led the development of green building standards and education programs for New York City’s affordable housing providers. An urban planner with a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin, Suzanne has worked in East Africa, China, India and several states in the USA on community-based sustainable development. Forbes recently named her one of five women ‘Using Technology to Blow Up Social Change.’
The United States remains the world’s largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) and the second largest national emitter of GHGs. Now, more than ever, meaningful progress to rapidly reduce GHG reductions will depend on community-level action. Pecan Street Inc.’s data-driven approach to technology and policy solutions is a model for how to move forward. Pecan Street’s approach to data collection, analysis, rapid technology and policy evaluation through field trials, and evidence-driven policy recommendations is an emerging model applicable to countries around the world seeking to mitigate climate change while building robust regional economies.
Pecan Street Inc. created and maintains the world’s largest database on residential energy use available to researchers. The data is available for free to university researchers around the world through a state-of-the-art interactive database portal, Dataport (www.dataport.cloud). Currently, over 675 researchers from 47 countries are using this data.
To generate its datasets, Pecan Street engages with businesses and homeowners to instrument their properties with appliance-level energy monitoring systems. The data is used to understand the opportunities for rapid energy conservation and clean energy conversion and for optimization of clean energy solutions. The data is further used to evaluate the impacts of new technologies or policy interventions, providing rapid, verifiable results on theirefficacy.
Examples of outcomes from this approach include: 1) revealing that south-facing PV systems in Texas reduce more peak grid demand than west-facing systems, which resulted in changes to Texas utilities and California PUC policies governing rebates for residential PV systems; (2) development of optimized hardware and software solutions for battery integration at the residential level and utility scale; and (3) galvanizing communities to take more effective actions to directly combat climate change, such as the installation of over 1MW of rooftop PV spread across 211 homes as a result of the data provided by Pecan Street.