Building Owners & Controls Providers: Help Us Clean Up The Great Lakes

In the coming months, WattTime, with the Great Lakes Protection Fund, UC Berkeley, and other partners, will be rolling out a pilot program to test the deployment of enhanced demand response programs throughout the Great Lakes Region. As a part of this pilot, we’re seeking a small group of commercial building owners who want to be able to choose clean energy in real-time, automatically. As early adopters for the program, you’ll gain this capability at no cost with just a software update to your existing control system. If your building is in a state that touches one of the Great Lakes (or your commercial HVAC/building controls company serves those buildings), you may be eligible.

WattTime lets you choose where your power comes from

WattTime invented automated emissions reduction (AER) to give electricity users the ability to choose the source of their power. WattTime measures the real-time emissions of your local power grid to determine how clean or dirty the responding generator is at the moment you flip on a switch. The answer can change every five minutes. Using WattTime’s forecast, your devices, homes, and buildings can automatically shift energy use to the cleanest moments throughout the day. AER is in use today by many devices like EV chargers, batteries, thermostats, appliances, smart plugs, and more. So if you want to be able to choose whether you use clean or dirty electricity, now you can, by using AER (learn more about AER).

Buildings can reduce Great Lakes pollution

Since 2015, WattTime and GLPF have been working to eliminate mercury and other pollution from the power sector by providing a powerful economic signal which will encourage clean energy generation and hasten the early retirement of dirty coal plants. Buildings are the next key piece of this puzzle. We’re scaling up the impact of our technology beyond EV charging and smart devices by expanding our capability to include commercial HVAC.

Early next year, WattTime will run a pilot demonstration of AER in a commercial building and measure the pollution reduction potential (a collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment). We will then share the results with utilities in the Great Lakes region (eg. ComEd, Xcel Energy, Great River Energy, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy) and beyond, in support of new incentive programs which will make AER more widely available.

The commercial building pilot is an important step towards bringing clean energy choice to everyone. By choosing cleaner energy for our homes and businesses, our collective action will add up to drastic reductions in pollution. For example, our two-phase project could lead to the elimination of 269 pounds of mercury annually in the Great Lakes region. We’ve previously discussed why reducing mercury pollution in the Great Lakes region is so important for health outcomes.

But why do we care? 

Health and environmental justice are intertwined, with the COVID-19 epidemic making that connection ever more stark and clear. With over a million deaths from the virus worldwide, we must not forget that health in lower-income communities is disproportionately affected not only by viruses, but by local environmental pollution which puts these populations at greater risk to increasingly frequent and coincident disasters.

New research from the State University of New York and ProPublica, as well as The New York Times, suggests that areas with bad air pollution have higher rates of COVID-19. Meanwhile, EPA enforcement has been cut back during the pandemic, leading to spikes in toxic emissions in some areas. Another recent study showed that asthma hospitalizations dropped in Kentucky after coal-fired power plants went offline.

This project focuses a lens on harmful pollutants emitted by coal-fired power plants, because every state that touches the Great Lakes has an interest in keeping their people safe with clean air and water. And, as the people who are directly impacted, we—and our buildings—can do something to help. 


Building Partners

We’re partnering with building owners and property managers who want a choice about where their power comes from. Choosing to use AER is a choice to use cleaner electricity. AER will automatically make small adjustments to reduce your emissions throughout the day, all year long. Sign up today.


  • Gain capability to flex energy usage based on your choice of clean or dirty energy
  • Ability to reduce your pollution footprint, contributing to your environmental goals (and improving local health outcomes)
  • Get reports on your pollution reductions (CO2, mercury, SO2, and NOx)
  • A case study highlighting your building which you can share with your tenants and industry peers (if desired)

What will be needed from you?

  • Introduce WattTime to your HVAC and building controls provider(s)
  • Ask your controls provider for AER functionality for your existing system (no cost to you, and no new hardware to be installed)
  • Provide feedback about the experience during the pilot (early 2021)

Controls Partners

We’re also partnering with building controls companies (e.g. automation, HVAC, lighting, analytics) who are interested in providing their customers the power to choose cleaner electricity. Contact us if you’d like to discuss the details.


  • Reach new commercial building customers, based on environmental value proposition
  • Add value to your existing customers without adding any new hardware
  • Further enhance load flexibility/optimization features with help from Watttime and CBE
  • AER capability will give you access to upcoming utility programs for enhanced Demand Response
  • Appear as a featured partner in our case study

What will be needed from you?

  • Pull real-time data from WattTime by API
  • Incorporate this signal into your operational optimization
  • Provide operational data back to WattTime for evaluation