Facebook, NRDC, Opower Unite On Energy Awareness

By David Cohen Comment

Facebook’s latest effort to build a good reputation for energy conservation comes in the form of a partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Opower.

The three parties are developing a new social energy application that will use Facebook’s platform to enable consumers to:

  • Compare the energy usage of their homes versus the national average of similar homes from a national database of millions of homes;
  • Compare their energy usage with their friends’ energy usage (a social version of Opower’s Neighbor Comparison module);
  • Publish energy-related conversations to their Facebook newsfeeds;
  • Enter energy-saving competitions; and
  • Share energy-conservation and efficiency tips.

The app will pull energy-usage data from the utility providers of users who choose to participate, via a seamless upload and authentication process.

Opower has more than 60 utilities in its network, and the first three utilities to agree to allow the app to access their data are Commonwealth Edison (in Chicago), the City of Palo Alto (where Facebook is headquartered), and Glendale Water & Power (in southern California).

The NRDC said studies have shown that the average U.S. consumer spends about six minutes per year thinking about energy, so teaming up with Facebook, where U.S. users spend an average of 20 minutes and 46 seconds per session on the social network, is a wise move.

Marcy Scott Lynn, who leads Facebook Sustainability, said:

With more than 800 million participants using Facebook, people have discovered that the platform can be used as a powerful tool for positive change. Facebook makes our own energy efficiency a top priority, and we hope to inspire a grand conversation about energy efficiency among the millions of people who use the service every day. We’re excited to help people who use Facebook share and discover their passion for the environment and the small energy efficiency improvements they can make to reduce energy consumption and save money.

Announcements like these help counter criticism about by the likes of Greenpeace surrounding the use of coal and nuclear power to run Facebook’s data centers.

While the social network has implemented numerous energy conservation technologies and certainly has greener business practices than many other companies do, activists don’t these efforts are enough.

What do you think about Facebook’s energy usage and stance on green issues?