The dialogue around green issues can often be dominated by trailblazing technology, massive infrastructure and policy positions, but sometimes it’s the unheralded little things that can make a big difference.
Take our data matching service for the Affordable Warmth arm of the ECO scheme, which has just processed its 100,000th record since launching in June last year. The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government scheme to obligate larger suppliers to deliver energy efficiency home improvements to homes in Britain.
It's a service tailored to simply check people's eligibility for the ECO Affordable Warmth scheme with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on behalf of energy suppliers, installers and others involved with the national scheme.
This quickly shows whether customers qualify for the scheme - and with a large number of partners involved in delivering ECO, such a process is vital to help get energy company-subsidised heating systems and insulation to those that need them most.
Susan Jones, of Energy Saving Trust, explained: “It's a very small part of the chain, but saves energy suppliers from having to visit houses where people may not be eligible, get hard copies of benefits documentation, and handle sensitive information. It also reduces the risk that further down the line it may not be possible to check that work meets the scheme criteria and potentially being rejected by Ofgem.
“It takes the hassle away for the supply chain, the DWP, and householders, who won't have to be digging around for documentation, and may worry about the security of their information.”
Data and sustainability tend to cross paths largely in discussions about smart homes and cities – but to target the right people with energy efficiency home improvements in a cost-effective way, sometimes broader data about people's lives will be required than how much power their washing machine is consuming, or whether the lights have been left on. This will have to be handled both simply and securely, and shared selectively.
With basic customer information, the data matching team has been sending two batches of data to the DWP every week since the scheme began. There are some stringent customer service standards involved.
Jones said: “There's a seven working-day target to process each batch run, but in most cases we've been managing to do it in 24 hours. Nobody's waiting around. Ultimately, it's just very effective behind-the-scenes processing which makes things easier.”