Business Impact Article
Posted: 7/9/2013
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IssyGrid Residents Trim Energy Use by 20 Percent When Given Real-Time Consumption Data

IssyGrid is a bold experiment in seeing what happens when homeowners and building owners are empowered with real-time data on their energy usage. The result: they reduce their consumption—and their energy bills—by 10 to 20 percent. The exciting project, happening near Paris, France, is led by a consortium of business leaders and uses Microsoft public cloud resources to store data and Microsoft data management software to analyze it and yield insights.

Many individual homeowners have taken it upon themselves to use electricity more carefully—turning off lights, lowering thermostats, and using modern energy-efficient appliances. A consortium of companies is taking energy conservation to the next level by creating an entire eco-minded neighborhood, just outside of Paris.

IssyGrid is France’s first smart-grid neighborhood, a demonstration project aimed at reducing energy use in the French town of Issy-les-Moulineaux. It is run by a consortium of corporate partners and local utilities that consider energy conservation an opportunity for businesses to solve. About 200 test homes and 4 commercial buildings in the community have been outfitted with energy consumption monitoring devices, with the goal of ultimately expanding the program to the entire town of 5,000 residents and 10,000 business employees.

IssyGrid collects energy consumption data and process it in real time by using Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. The consortium analyzes the data by using Microsoft SQL Server 2012 data management software. IssyGrid provides this data to citizens so that they can see how they are using electricity. This enables them to take specific actions to conserve—by turning off the television or lowering the temperature by two degrees.

The project has demonstrated that individuals will take action to reduce their energy use when empowered with information. The project has demonstrated that conserving energy globally begins locally—in the neighborhood.

The Full Story

Save Energy at the Neighborhood Level
People all over the world are concerned about the rising consumption of energy, anticipated energy shortages, rising energy costs, and the deleterious effect that the world’s energy needs have on the environment. While some feel that these problems are nearly impossible to solve on a global level, others are taking significant steps at the local level.

* IssyGrid has shown that when families have data about their energy consumption, they take action to reduce their consumption—and bills—by 10 to 20 percent. *

Guillaume Parisot
Head of Innovation, Bouygues-Immobilier

One of these efforts is underway in the French town of Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris. A consortium of utilities, building owners, software leaders, greentech startups, and other companies launched IssyGrid, a demonstration project aimed at optimizing energy usage at the local level by empowering residents with data about their energy consumption so that they will be incentivized to change their habits. “We believe that arming citizens with data is the best way to conserve energy, because the more you know, the more likely it is that you will take action,” says Guillaume Parisot, Head of Innovation at Bouygues-Immobilier.

IssyGrid grew out of work conducted in 2009 by Bouygues-Immobilier, a major property developer in France, which implemented an energy-positive office building—able to produce more energy than it consumed. The natural next step was to move from the building to the neighborhood. “To build energy-efficient buildings, you have to take into account what happens around the building, in the neighborhood,” Parisot says.

Bouygues-Immobilier rallied a group of corporate partners, including Alstom, Bouygues Telecom, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, and Steria and Total, together with local utilities, and several greentech startups, to launch IssyGrid. “IssyGrid is unique because it doesn’t come from the government level but from a group of interested local and global businesses,” Parisot says. “It is an innovative realization of an energy management system by multiple players and shows that the development of smart grids is really a challenge and opportunity for local businesses.”

Empower Residents with Energy Consumption Data
The first phase of IssyGrid, which began in early 2012, consists of installing monitoring systems (heating, lighting, hot water) in homes. These systems show owners their energy consumption with enough detail for them to be able to change their habits—turn off the television when not in use or shift usage to non-peak periods of the day. About 200 test homes have been fitted with energy consumption monitoring devices; the goal is to extend monitoring to 1,000 homes by the end of 2013.

“Most homeowners want to conserve energy but don’t know which devices in their homes are using the most energy,” Parisot says. “When they can see their energy consumption data in real time, they can take action to lower their heat by two degrees or buy a new refrigerator.” IssyGrid is also creating an online information community where families can compare their energy usage with that of comparable families in the neighborhood.

Soon after outfitting homes with energy monitoring and reporting devices, IssyGrid deployed these same technologies to several commercial buildings. Bouygues-Immobilier and Microsoft offered their buildings as test buildings, in addition to two other large commercial buildings in Issy-les-Moulineaux. IssyGrid plans to extend monitoring to restaurants, schools, and as many other building types as it can in the next year.

Analyze Data in Real Time to Optimize Energy Use
IssyGrid collects power consumption data from homes and office buildings in a neighborhood network center (hosted in a local Microsoft data center) where it is processed in real time and analyzed for improvement suggestions. Engineers have even figured out a way to do energy “swapping” between homes and businesses, allowing office buildings to shift excess power to local residences on the weekends, when no one is in the office. Residences typically need more power on weekends.

IssyGrid also includes smart public lighting, which adapts street light levels to road traffic and natural light in real time, and electric vehicles, introduced so that the consortium can measure their impact on the energy grid.

Figure 1.
Figure 1. IssyGrid gathers energy consumption data
from residences and businesses and feeds it into
Windows Azure and SQL Server, where it is analyzed
for energy savings suggestions.
All the energy data is stored in Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. “Energy monitoring is a perfect application for the cloud, because the amount of data is huge,” Parisot says. “Just one commercial building generates 50 million data points a year.

Privacy is also important. “When you know the energy consumption patterns of a family, you know quite a lot about that family,” Parisot says. IssyGrid collects three kinds of data: personal data, which stays anonymous; data that is shared only within the consortium; and public data that the consortium can share with universities and researchers, who analyze it for future improvements. “By using Windows Azure, we can store all these different data types with different levels of security,” Parisot says. “France has very strict national data privacy regulations, and the IssyGrid system that we developed based on Windows Azure is fully compliant with them.”

In addition to providing compute and storage resources in Windows Azure, Microsoft provides its database and business intelligence software (Microsoft SQL Server 2012 data management software), which is used to analyze and extrapolate trends and recommendations from the data.

Citizens Reduce Energy Bills by As Much As 20 Percent
The IssyGrid smart grid began in the Seine Ouest neighborhood of Issy-les-Moulineaux and will soon be extended to the Fort d’Issy neighborhood, with another 1,600 homes. Ultimately, IssyGrid will be extended to the whole town. When that happens, IssyGrid will cover the needs of nearly 5,000 residents and 10,000 business employees in a 160,000 square-meter area.

“IssyGrid demonstrates the power of providing local solutions to global energy challenges,” Parisot says. “IssyGrid has shown that when families have data about their energy consumption, they take action to reduce their consumption—and bills—by 10 to 20 percent.”

The consortium also plans to introduce energy price data into the experiment to see if and how that information changes residents’ energy conservation habits. “In France, citizens pay the same price for a kilowatt of electricity no matter what time of day it’s consumed, but this is not the real market price of energy,” Parisot says. “It’s important to educate residents about fluctuating electricity costs at different times of the day.”

IssyGrid is convinced that better energy management at the neighborhood level is the key to better conserving energy at the global level. “Our goal is to build implementation and economical models that show other cities how to do what we’ve done, on even larger levels,” Parisot says. “When we do that, we are convinced that our investment in IssyGrid will be returned.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Profile
IssyGrid is France’s first smart-grid ecodistrict, a demonstration project aimed at optimizing energy usage in the French town of Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Vertical Industries
  • Power & Utilities
  • Local Government Agencies