Opening Up University Energy Data

Knowing how much energy a building uses is often the first step towards reducing it’s energy footprint, so here’s a quick round up of the university open data initiatives I know of that are based around energy data. (If you know of more, please let me know via the comments.)

First up, via @lncd, here’s a heatmap showing change in energy building usage compared aross the last two days:

Lincoln - 2-day energy data utilisation comparison

This visulisation (built on top of Lincoln U’s open data feeds ( charts energy usage over a calendar month:

Lincoln U - energy usage over time

Read more about Lincoln’s energy data hacks here: University of Lincoln Energy Data …. an update!.

Over in Oxford, there’s a tool called OpenMeters that displays charts of energy usage by building:

Oxford opne energy data

The Oxford data is available as Linked Data from, err, I think… As ever, it’d probably take me an hour or two to find out how to make my first query that returns anything meaningful to me in a form I could actually do anything with!;-) I also wonder whether the Oxford project feeds into another Oxford initiative: iMeasure?

(By the by, I misread the title of this place from the other place to Oxford as “A Linked Data Model Of Building Energy Consumption”: A Limited-Data Model Of Building Energy Consumption, which explores a model “targeted at practical, wide-scale deployment which produces an ongoing breakdown of building energy consumption”.)

Whilst I don’t think Warwick University’s energy monitoring page is based on exposed open data, it does have some dials/gauges on it:

Warick U - energy monitoring

(By the by – that page doesn’t have a Warwick favicon associated with it in my browser; should it?)

So – a quick round up (and huuuuuuge displacement activity from what I should have been doing this afternoon), but I think it’s worth tracking and reporting on these early demonstrations…

See also: JISC Green ICT projects (which I note don’t seem to return popular Google results for queries relating to university energy data, even when searches are limited to the domain…) and the Greening ICT Programme Community Site; Govspark, which compares energy usage across government departments; Innovations in Campus Mapping for a review of how open data is being used to support enhanced interactive campus maps; and Open Data Powered Location Based Services in UK Higher Education.

PS given Lincoln are publishing all manner of open data, I wonder whether there is enough there to do an ad hoc version of the Heat and light by timetable project using data they’re producing just anyway?!

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

4 thoughts on “Opening Up University Energy Data”

  1. Thanks for doing a write-up of what’s out there. I hadn’t realised there was so much happening out there; we should all probably talk to each other more!

    As ever, my skills at documenting things are somewhat lagging. In Oxford’s case, we’ve made the data available through an API at The metadata for the time-series are SPARQLable, and there’s enough information in there to know what to query (once you’ve got a tool that knows the vocab). We played with sticking the raw data in the triplestore, but it didn’t end well :/. There’s a grand plan to extend this to other time-series in future (e.g. temperatures; network utilisation; number of computers turned on). If you’re into raw RDF, then and are for you. I really need to improve the usability and obviousness of the site; for not having done so you have my apologies.

    Another grand plan is to get this API implemented elsewhere — if anyone wants to join in then shout (either here, or on the buildingdata list at

    The iMeasure stuff came out of the Environmental Change Institute, and as far as I can tell, was intended to be a tool for individuals and SMEs. There’s also a bit more on Oxford’s green aspirations at

    In the “interesting” category, look at “Dartington House” at, and note the drop near the beginning of 2010. This was when they got wake-on-LAN up and running, which made it less inconvenient for occupants to turn their computers off at night. We should really look at trying to get these kinds of annotations into the data to provide more context.

    1. @alex thanks for the comment… I guess my gripe with the Linked Data is that I didn’t spot a couple of queries that: a) generate eg a set of time series data I’d stand a chance of doing something with; b) in a form whereby I could inspect the query and try to hack around with it myself.

      The assumption that a lot of LInked Data sites seem to make is that the user should know how to just start querying the endpoint to find stuff that interests them and work from there. This limits the user audience somewhat. If you give me a query that works *and* that exposes some data that I could use it myself (eg by posting a query that produces CSV or Simile JSON data eg via SPARQLProxy), I could start to play with the data, then start to just copy in and cut out bits of the query and then maybe – maybe – try extending the queries.

      If there was an unpicked tutorial that shows how to get the SPARQL data into the charts you show, I could work from that. As it is: I see you have a SPARQL endpoint. Good. But not for me…

      (Apols if you have posted example queries – the above is pretty much a boilerplate rant that applies to the majority of SPARQL endpoints I come across…;-)

    2. It’s a criticism I’m well aware of, and it certainly needs addressing, both with the Oxford site and beyond.

      We’ve tried to produce a few canned SPARQL queries and simplified APIs for a couple of datasets, but I think we can conclude that they’re not obvious or comprehensive enough. (The example queries are at and linked from the dataset page. There are also RSS feeds and JSON LDA-like lists for a couple of datasets.)

      I guess a few “get the data that produced this graph” links near each graph would also be a Good Idea.

      All stuff I’ll stick on my todo list. If you’ve got any more suggestions I’ll be happy to get things sorted.

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