Webinar Recap: How to Simplify Your Utility Data

Amy Hou  |  October 6, 2017   |  Energy & Sustainability  


UL EHS Sustainability and Urjanet recently held a webinar to discuss how integrated software platforms can achieve highly specialized and efficient workflows for sustainability reporting. PURE Sustainability Platform expert Luisa Quitalo broke down how Urjanet’s data flows into PURE to be mobilized for carbon emissions reporting and visualizations. Following Luisa, Urjanet Director of OEM Sales Tim Porter elaborated on the design of the Urjanet platform and how it can easily be configured to work with platforms like PURE.

Watch a video recording of the broadcast.

We sat down with Tim and Luisa to answer questions asked during the webinar in more depth. Gwen Eder, client services manager for UL, chimed in as well.

Is PURE a new name for cr360?

Luisa: Yes. PURE platform is the product that was formerly known as cr360.

What are the requirements for utility providers to be used via Urjanet? Do you need a formal partnership?

Tim: There are a variety of ways that we can connect to the utility; it does not require that Urjanet build a formal, contractual relationship with the utility company. Typically, we access data by going through the “front door.” We’ll use the user’s existing credentials to login and download invoices. Our programmers build software that determines how to navigate specific utility websites, and then we build custom integrations to each one of the 5,000+ utilities from which we get data. All that’s needed is an electronic means to parse the data.

Can you provide some examples of how this integration with Urjanet helps UL’s clients with their strategies over a manual entry process?

Luisa: Because the Urjanet data comes in on a daily basis, or whenever there’s new information from a utility provider, in terms of data accuracy and transparency, it is much more reliable. This is because if you’re setting targets or estimates, you know that the data in the system is the data that should be in the system. User error is reduced. In terms of strategy, you can more confidently rely on the numbers, and if anything looks odd, you know exactly whom to go to for help.

Tim: That’s been a pretty common theme we’ve heard from people who were doing this manually prior to Urjanet. In addition to making people’s lives easier by removing the task of manual entry from their day-to-day, it really is a more reliable method. You’re not only ensuring that you’re getting the data more quickly, and that your reports are going to be more timely and less stale, but you’re also getting data that is accurate.

With manual data entry, it’s not only an issue of people mistyping something; sometimes they simply don’t have the data or they don’t have the time to manage it. We’ve heard companies say that when facilities managers are too busy doing other things, if they don’t have ready access to last month’s invoice, they would just use amounts from the previous month and add or subtract a little, or base their numbers off of last year. Whereas with Urjanet, you always know that the data you’re seeing is the real truth.

Luisa: To add on to that, we have a lot of systems that get audited, and our auditors know that if the data comes in from Urjanet, it’s more reliable. The Urjanet team processes invoices and audits them before they even enter PURE, which adds a layer of dependability.

Do PURE and Urjanet work with multiple languages and cultures?

Tim: At this point, we work with 30+ countries, spanning Europe, Asia, and most of North and South America. We’ve got one deployment with the PURE platform located from the US to the UK to Singapore. We don’t have any issue importing invoices in whatever language or character set they arrive in.

Gwen: UL PURE™ is completely multilingual. We have a range of off-the-shelf language packs available that translate the entire system, including all administrative features. Specific aspects of the system – from menu items to indicator names and guidance notes – can be translated and displayed in multiple languages. We can load translations of all terms, so the user sees this information in their preferred language upon login.

Many of our customers are international, and we currently serve the application to over 100 countries. The application itself supports automatic or manual regionalization of numbers, currencies, dates, and languages; currently, nine languages are supported.

How do PURE and Urjanet each handle meter or interval data?

Tim: Urjanet can deliver interval data in certain cases. We don’t get data directly from the meter in terms of a telemetry type of connection. We can get 15-minute granular meter data from the utility, if that data is made available. Some larger utilities are providing meter data, but our source is the utility, so if the utility does not provide meter data, then neither can we.

Gwen: We have a Universal Meter Interface which can gather real-time data in a range of formats, from generic flat files (Excel, CSV) to XML and more proprietary formats, such as Wi5. One common challenge in our experience is how the meter transmits the data, irrespective of format. Depending on the technology you have in use, this could be GSM or over a local LAN/wireless network. We have a number of retail, real estate, and financial services clients already using our system to collect real-time energy data from hundreds of sites via our Universal Meter Interface.

We can review your existing meter technology and easily provide a proof of concept. In addition, we have a meter hardware partner who can audit your sites and recommend or implement the best hardware for each situation, including fiscal and submeter. This hardware will transfer data to our system in real time, off the shelf.

Do these programs have open APIs to connect to platforms other than PURE or Urjanet?

Gwen: The PURE platform does offer a number of integrations, Urjanet being one example. We can pretty much connect to any other type of API that you’d like to use. There are several different options with regards to automated data collection, such as XML gateway, REST, and SOAP-based APIs to provide a flexible approach to integrating with other systems.

Tim: From Urjanet’s standpoint, we have interfaces that allow for the administration of our system to be done programmatically. Because we’re a data system, we’re expecting that what we deliver is going to be integrated into something. Some of the PURE users, for instance, are interested in the data being used not only within PURE, but also with other systems (such as an accounting package) because there’s a lot of untapped value in the data collected. To some extent, it really takes integration in order for the data we’re gathering to be turned into something valuable for people.

Can Urjanet’s data be integrated into the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Arc platform?

Tim: We are not currently integrated with the Arc platform but could likely build an integration with Arc if a customer were to need it. Urjanet has built custom integrations with different platforms in the past based on specific use cases for customers.

Want more detail on simplifying sustainability reporting? Watch the full replay of the webinar.

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About Amy Hou

Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.

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