February 2010

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Smart Grid and Buildings connected in Orlando

A key part of the future of B2G is how the BAS industry will develop over the next few years.

We were fortunate at the Summit to have representation from two of the major BAS companies (Siemens and Schneider) and a perspective from one of the industryís leading thought leaders in John Petze.


Anto Budiardjo
President & CEO,
Clasma Events Inc.

Contributing Editor

The role of buildings in the emerging Smart Grid took center stage in Orlando during AHR Expo. At the Buildings-to-Grid Summit, a strong lineup of speakers conveyed the opportunities and current challenges for the BAS industry to benefit from the billions of dollars pouring into Smart Grid.

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Objectives of the Summit

Those who understand Smart Grid understand that it cannot happen without buildings, both commercial and residential (commercial and residential buildings represent 40% and 32% of electricity load respectively). A key focus of Smart Grid is its need to influence (or control) the usage (or demand) of electricity. Such that when the grid is unable to provide enough electricity (due to increased load, weather or emergency), the load on the system can be reduced through signals to consumers. Nowhere is this more doable than in large buildings that typically have control systems in place.

Smart Grid Update

First up at the Summit was an update on Smart Grid initiatives; the session was led by a talk given by Dr. George Arnold who is in charge of the standards activities at NIST. George spoke about the significant weight put on standards activities by the Obama Administration, of the formation of SGIP (Smart Grid Interoperability Panel) and the role that the BAS industry can have. The key call-to-action was that more involvement by the BAS industry is welcomed and sought.

Sila Kiliccote from LBNL (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories) further expounded upon the technologies and efforts in establishing standards and best practice in the interconnectivity of buildings to grid, through the laboratoriesí efforts. The key message; much of the technologies are in place, and business value is now becoming real for building owners and the BAS industry.

For copies of these talks and further discussion, go to this link. You can login to the site and pose a question to George and Sila.

BAS Industry Directions

A key part of the future of B2G is how the BAS industry will develop over the next few years.  We were fortunate at the Summit to have representation from two of the major BAS companies (Siemens and Schneider) and a perspective from one of the industryís leading thought leaders in John Petze.

Christoph Vogel, a VP from Siemens outlined that companyís views through an approach that covers all aspects of the Siemens business from electricity generation to building controls. Christoph outlined opportunities for business with their utility as well as buildings related customers. He reiterated the importance of buildings to the success of Smart Grid, and detailed how Siemens is going about this. As a major global company with a clear vision, it is important for BAS players to look at this perspective.

Talking on behalf of Schneider were Tony Icenhour and Phil Davis (replacing VP Bob Klein who was unable to attend). Schneider spoke mainly of their focus area in the intersection of buildings to grid, through an understanding of the key drivers of how the electricity market can view the building load as valuable loads to curtail, and how building owners and the BAS industry alike can benefit from this significant opportunity.

John Petze (formerly President of Tridium, past consultant to Constellation and currently at Cisco) gave a passionate speech on the reality of B2G opportunity today, and how automation of the B2G process, including standardization of the interface applications are key areas that we need to focus on. Without this focus, B2G cannot become real. With these approaches, B2G will become very valuable to all stakeholders from building owners, the BAS industry, the utilities and society at large. John gave specific examples from projects that he was involved with.

For more information on these talks, and to chime in to the dialog, go to this link and login to ask questions of these speakers.

Reliable Controls Roundtable Discussion

Probably the most interesting part of the Summit was the discussion in the last hour of the Summit, a discussion that also outlined a couple of different perspectives from Jim Lee at Cimetrics and Sharon Dinges from Trane.

Jim Lee talked about the US Government stimulus funding, the fact that very little of it was channeled to the consumer side of the grid picture. Jim further outlined a view that the future of Smart Grid can take form in one of two ways; the Managed Energy picture where utilities is in the center, and a Collaborative Energy view where real time pricing forms a more Internet-like distributed system of electrons.

Sharon Dinges spoke at the Summit about the newly formed EIS (Energy Information Standards) Alliance, working with the NIST/SGIP process to help define standards required in the B2G space. Sharon indicated that members of the Alliance include ASHRAE, AHAM, EPRI, LonMark, UCAIug, ISA, ODVA, SGIP and OASIS.

A key point raised by an attendee is that there is currently little incentive for the BAS industry, specifically integrators, to invest in the B2G space. And that building owners are currently not requesting these types of systems. There were different views of this dilemma, including the fact that many top C-level individuals may be going around the BAS industry. There was also discussion that the BAS industry is not vocal enough in defining the correct policy required, or the value proposition of its offering in the energy dialog.

For copies of slides and to have further discussion, go to this link and login to contribute your view.

Summary

Education and communication of the opportunities and value of B2G ended up as the key take-away from the Summit. It was clear to Summit attendees that this space is real and that the technologies are broadly available. Itís just a question of the BAS industry needing to develop the right signals; to itself, to utilities and most importantly to building owners.

The next major conference as a follow up to the Summit will be at BuilConn, part of ConnectivityWeek to be held in Santa Clara May 24-27, see www.ConnectivityWeek.com.

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