With 35 colleges, universities, and community colleges inside its city limits, and several high-profile educational institutions across the river in Cambridge, Boston already has a reputation as a “smart city”—but now it’s about to take claim to the same title in an entirely different way.
This week, Paris-based Schneider Electric (News - Alert) announced intentions to implement its biggest smart city project to date, in partnership with the City of Boston—one that aims to amass and analyze data from the city’s 350 commercial buildings, 850 traffic lights, 64,000 street lights and a 3,100-vehicle municipal fleet to help advance its efficiency and environmental goals.
Unlike the City of San Diego in California—which with the help of Google (News - Alert), has installed about 1.4 million smart meters—Boston remains in the pilot stage. In 2010, the regional utility, NStar, retrofitted meters with radio wave and broadband technologies in 2,800 homes and businesses in Newton, Hopkinton, and Jamaica Plain (the latter, within Boston proper).
While the two-year, $16 million test saw the successful installation and operation of home energy platforms that enabled customers to take advantage of Time of Use pricing, there has been widespread pushback against the meters; and opt-out legislation currently is pending in the Massachusetts legislature.
However, Boston still ranks highest among the 34 largest cities in the nation on a list compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy with a score of 76.75 cumulatively for its local government and community initiatives, buildings, energy and water utilities, and advanced transportation—followed closely by Portland, Ore. (70), New York (69.75), San Francisco (69.75), Seattle (65.25), and Austin (62).
Photo courtesy of City of Boston.gov.
And the latest smart city project will push Boston into next-generation energy efficiency according to Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who commented, "As Boston continues to strive toward its aggressive sustainability goals, we looked for a way to effectively track our energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and related conservation projects," adding, “Schneider Electric beat out seven other qualified vendors, offering the best solution to track our progress."
Schneider’s Smart City Solutions
“Schneider Electric is thrilled to have been chosen by the City of Boston, following one of the most thorough and rigorous evaluation processes I’ve ever experienced,” said Steve Wichita, senior vice president of Professional Services for Schneider Electric. “It’s exciting to play a role in such a key project for one of the world’s greatest cities, and I firmly believe our energy and sustainability services will enable the city to accomplish the aggressive goals set forth in its progressive Climate Plan.”
Schneider plans to roll out two major SruxureWare solutions, which will enable the city to better track, manage and report on electricity, natural gas, water, wastewater, and other data sources at both the enterprise and individual meter level:
- StruxureWare Resource Advisor, Schneider Electric’s enterprise-level software application, will provide Boston with secure access to the data, reports and summaries that drive its energy and sustainability programs; and
- StruxureWare Energy Operation, which will offer scalable functionality —from simple, out-of-the-box reporting to in-depth energy analytics— and will enable the city to further improve energy efficiencies within designated buildings.
(Note: Energy efficiency benchmarking for commercial buildings has been mandated in Boston since May 8, when the City Council passed an ordinance, as a component of its Climate Action Plan that requires all large- and medium size buildings to report their annual energy and water use.)
Part of Schneider Electric’s Smart Cities offerings, the solutions will provide energy consumption information to help optimize energy use and reduce operating expenses.
The new energy efficiency management system (EEMS) also will:
- Enhance the city’s ability to plan future energy efficiency projects,
- Identify undesired spikes in energy use more quickly,
- Manage energy use system-wide, and
- Monitor progress toward meeting Mayor Menino’s greenhouse gas reductions goals—25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
What’s more, the plan calls for the incorporation of projected climate change into all formal planning and project review processes.
Wichita commented, “We commend Mayor Menino and the City of Boston for their commitment to reducing municipal greenhouse gases and energy consumption, and look forward to partnering with them as they take their own Smart City initiative to the next level.”
Edited by Alisen Downey