[open-energy] Possible open data project UK non-domestic emissions

Javier Ruiz javier at openrightsgroup.org
Fri Apr 15 12:37:54 BST 2011

Dear all

some people in the Dept for the Environment and Climate Change are
interested in exploring an open approach to the data and modelling of
non-domestic emissions. This could potentially be a huge step in terms
of open government and climate.

I copy here the original message from my contacts at DECC:

In overview, DECC is seeking to build better models for non-domestic
emissions, as our existing models and data have significant
limitations (by "non-dom" we mean public and private sector). There
are potentially two aspects to this (i) making the new data and the
new models available to everyone (ii) using some form of crowdsourcing
to get the information to inform the models, or to constructively
challenge the data underpinning them.

 At this stage this is just a concept, which has not yet got approval
to proceed - and in any case, the budget to deliver it will not be
very large, even if it were to get approval. I think the first part of
the above is relatively straightforward, though would welcome expert
input as to how this should be done most effectively and cheaply. (Ie
putting them on DECC website delivers the objective in the crudest
form, at almost no cost - but are there better ways? What else should
DECC be mindful of?) The second element is potentially more
interesting but significantly more challenging to figure out exactly
how this could work.

 As a guide to the kind of information we are envisaging, we are
likely to want to put most of the following on the site:


·         Fuel prices

·         New building

·         Demolitions

·         Building numbers by type

·         Building numbers by sector

·         Energy using equipment

·         Abatement costs and technologies

·         Price elasticities

·         Floor space

·         Etc.

The model would be in equation form and possibly in a format
compatible with econometrics packages, such as Eviews.  This would be
complemented by a diagram and description of how the model works.

 We would also want to fly some kites by putting propositions or
papers on the site for which we could generate a discussion thread.
For instance,  commenting on the way in which buildings most commonly
use air conditioning systems, or garnering views of whether green
leases are possible.

 I am not aware of any models freely available on the Internet,
although the Item Club use the Treasury’s model to generate
alternative projections.  The ONS’s web site has a lot of freely
available data within in (www.statistics.gov.uk).

 Hopefully this gives you a good feel for the general approach we
would like to take.


After some conversations it seems that there could be the following
main lines of action:

- publishing all available public government data (open format, OGL)
and initial model (xls macros? + full documentation)

- open up and crowdsource the improvements and checks on the model.
Although this could be done with big fanfare as "everyone is invited",
the truth is that very few people can really add to such complex
model, mostly academics and energy managers, so it would need a double
strategy of involvement.

- getting the private sector to input their own data and partial
models. This means getting suppliers of electrical products,
facilities management companies, supermarkets, etc. to put part of
their internal energy saving models on the public model

- get independent developers or analysts to build apps and services. I
showed my contacts at DECC the Guardian climate model and they said
that what they are doing is a lot more complex (they had their own
version of that at DECC, a lot flashier and probably outrageously
expensive), but that maybe some subsets could be converted into user
friendly dashboards. An ideal outcome could be an open tool similar to
AMEE http://my.amee.com/developers

I think this initiative could be a great thing for open data and
participatory policies involving civil society, private and public

At the moment is at a very early stage and I have been asked totally
informally to put together a small group of people from the fields of
open data, participation and crowdsourcing, etc for an initial meeting
with the people in DECC working on this so they can explain their
ideas better and to see what could be achieved, etc. They would be
happy with any help, even just how to best publish the data. Once they
get an idea they can make a proper plan and budget. She said they had
little money but I think that we are in different orders of magnitude
from our small org budgets, so that would be part of the discussions.

Would you be interested in being part of this?

best, Javier

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