June 2009


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EMAIL INTERVIEW - Jeff Shepard & Ken Sinclair

Jeff ShepardJeff Shepard, founder of the Darnell Group (www.Darnell.com), has been active in the power electronics industry for over 25 years. Darnell is the leading source for strategic information and analysis on all aspects of power electronic and energy storage markets and technologies, including building powering. Darnell is the world’s only market research and publishing firm focused solely on power electronics. In the past 12 months alone, Darnell Group served the consulting needs of over 400 companies in 26 countries. Our focus ranges from small devices such building automation sensor nodes and lighting, to megawatt-class facilities-scale power converters. Darnell is the publisher of www.PowerPulseDaily.net, the only daily news service for the power electronics industry. Our daily news services and web site have over 50,000 monthly readers and delivers over 1 million monthly page views for advertisers. Darnell organizes a series of annual conferences, including the new Green Building Power Forum (http://greenbuildingpower.darnell.com/). 

The Green Building Power Forum 

The Green Building Power Forum (GBPF) will be looking at several trends including dc power and distributed control standards for commercial buildings, wireless controls in low-voltage dc-powered infrastructures, and simplified power line carrier controls in dc-powered commercial buildings.

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Sinclair: What is the “next big thing” in smart buildings?

Shepard: A convergence of technologies is occurring that will change how buildings are powered. These changes support increased use of building automation technologies, and will lead to reduced construction and operating costs, improved flexibility and enhanced sustainability. Industrial, commercial, government, and even residential buildings are increasingly looking at alternative sources of power, such as photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, fuel cells and microturbines. Inside the building, energy efficiency and costs are driving the use of emerging technologies like wireless building automation systems, demand-side management of energy use by electric utilities, and solid-state lighting controls (such as LEDs). Large facilities such as data centers are already looking at the use of high-voltage dc distribution, but there are even more opportunities for the use of low-voltage dc distribution as part of a hybrid ac and dc power structure in commercial and industrial buildings.

Sinclair: Isn’t the economic downturn curtailing investment in new construction?

Shepard: For many environmental control technologies (such as HVAC and security), retrofits are often more cost-effective. In fact, President Obama has made retrofits in buildings a priority, setting aside $2.8 billion in the federal stimulus package to promote them. These upgrades are seen as the most energy-efficient and cost-effective strategies to “go green.” The use of dc distribution can complement these trends in building power, including the use of “green” energy sources.

Sinclair: Dc power distribution isn’t used much yet – why now?

Shepard: Actually, telecommunications has always used this model, and data centers are admitting it could be the best technology for their facilities to save money. This has paved the way for the use of both high-voltage and low-voltage dc distribution in facilities beyond communications. The Green Building Power Forum (GBPF) will be looking at several trends in this direction, including dc power and distributed control standards for commercial buildings, wireless controls in low-voltage dc-powered infrastructures, and simplified power line carrier controls in dc-powered commercial buildings.

Sinclair: Who is supporting this trend toward dc power distribution?

Shepard: GBPF has drawn an international group of companies, including Sentilla, Tottori Gas Co. Ltd., ZBB Energy, BTECH, and Emerson Network Power. The EMerge Alliance and the ZigBee Alliance are major supporters. I’m sure your readers are familiar with ZigBee’s strong interest in building automation. The EMerge Alliance was formed recently and its members include companies such as Armstrong World Industries, Johnson Controls, Crestron, Herman Miller, and many others. We also have a significant contingent from the Electric Power Research Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. And venture capital firms like Intel Capital are very interested in these technologies, along with government agencies, utilities, and building/facilities engineers and architects.

contemporary Sinclair: So what specific topics will be covered at the Green Building Power Forum?

Shepard: Most of your audience are automation contractors and designers interested in environmental control and networking. GBPF has a number of presentations covering these areas, including dc power networks in buildings; how dc power can advance the solar economy; state-of-the-art building-integrated PV; energy management strategies for sustaining commercial enterprises; optimized dc systems for CGS and renewable energy; large-scale energy storage for dc power systems; integrated dc power with ancillary batteries; dynamically adaptable distributed dc power; and dc-powered PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) networks.

Sinclair: What else makes the GBPF a “must attend” event?

Shepard: The value of any conference boils down to the quality of the participants. Darnell Group puts on a number of conferences, and all are known for the high level of delegates who attend. Participants in GBPF will have an opportunity to meet and talk with top executives and technical professionals of leading equipment companies, as well as key technical and management professionals in the A/V and Security, Building Automation, Cabling, Electrical Systems, HVAC, Interior Systems, Lighting, Power Supplies, and Sensors and Controls, and related industries.





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