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White House launches GreenGov Challenge: Carbon compliance at hand?

On Monday, the White House announced a “bottom up” initiative to “green government,” launching a new initiative for federal employees to contribute ideas for energy efficiency. The GreenGov Challenge follows up on an Executive Order that President Barack Obama signed on Oct. 5 that directed federal agencies to appoint a sustainability officer and set emissions reductions targets for 2010.

Watch: Video of President Obama signing the Executive Order

In other words, so-called “carbon compliance” is now officially on the horizon line for the IT staff at federal agencies. If Congress decides to move forward with regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, CIOs at businesses in the private sector will also be faced with meeting new requirements.

Asking more than 1.8 million civilian employees and armed service members for their ideas on saving energy is bound to yield a good idea or three. Larger questions around implementation and measurement of enforcement of carbon emissions will be thornier and may not lend themselves to crowdsourcing.

As I wrote in today’s story, the role of sustainability software in carbon compliance is likely to be substantial. Another issue to be aware of is nascent competition in the market for electric metering in the smart grid. Google PowerMeter might run right up against the entrenched leader in smart metering software, a certain business software company located in Germany: SAP. As reported last year by, SAP is positioned for utility transformation as the smart grid develops. To be fair, Google is positioned at the consumer and small business level, while SAP is the definition of an enterprise software provider.

Given the pressure for homeowners, businesses and data center operators to become more sustainable in the years ahead, however, there’s likely to be room in the carbon compliance software market for both companies for some time to come.

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