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Interview - June 2001
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EMAIL INTERVIEW

Ken Sinclair and
 Jack McGowan


John J. “Jack” McGowan, CEM
is author and Vice President of Energy Control Inc., an Energy Service Company and System Integrator.  Mc Gowan has worked on numerous multi-million dollar projects in every capacity from design through financing as an end user and ESCO. He has published 5 books including “Direct Digital Control” on Fairmont Press.  The Association of Energy Engineers named him 1997 “International Energy Professional of the Year”, and he is listed in Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, Millenium edition, Marquis Press.

July's issue theme is Industry Migration towards Information
Technology 


Reliable ControlsSinclair - Browser based presentation of all industry information appears to be the now trend. Do you have any concerns?

McGowan: No, to the contrary I believe this is one of the most exciting trends in the industry. The obvious concern many might have is whether their critical information will be secure. My simple response is that many of us already do online banking, as well as review our portfolios and buy or sell stock and funds online. If the user trusts the Internet, via a Web browser, with their money, why worry about data security? Now consider for a moment the benefits, which are limitless. It now becomes possible to get real-time access to any data, any time and achieve far great cost optimization than ever before. Real-time energy services is the next horizon in this industry, and the merging of control technology with information technology is a must for any company. Companies who do not embrace this change are not likely to exist in the next few decades.

Sinclair - As our industry rapidly migrates towards Information Technology type presentation and procedures are there  concerns that we may lose our industry identity? 

McGowan: Yes, it is possible, but not likely. However, the older one gets the more evident are examples of history repeating itself. Case in point, the influx of computer oriented products in the 1970's was not unlike this situation, and many of those offers were failure. Referred to now as the black box era, that period of time proved that computer experts are not buildings experts. I believe that professionals in our industry must become experts in information technology and data communications, but the bottom line is temperature control requires expertise in HVAC. Even with the movement toward componentization and standards, integration is still required for all systems and this required specialize knowledge of building systems.

Sinclair - Online eDucation and eLearning are growing. Are they enough to keep our industry in touch? 

McGowan: Yes, as outlined in my article from May there are more avenues of communication than ever before. AutomatedBuildings.com for example is an incredible resource that could have never existed without the Web.

Sinclair - Is our industry positioned to accept daily convergence opportunities? 

McGowan: No, I don't think the industry as a whole has recognized the magnitude of change that is underway. Convergence opportunities are being address on a daily basis, but there is still a great deal of confusion in the industry. Many still believe that data communications standards like BACnet and LON are going to solve all the industries problems including convergence. In fact, the question should be what is convergence? This topic has been addressed several times already in this e-zine, and yet the addition of the Internet and a host of new entities there is more to convergence perhaps than has been discussed. Convergence means not only integrating hardwired and wireless local and wide area networks but the Internet as well. The work Internet however, can not be used as though it means one entity. The Internet means: ISP's, ASP's, Portal's, Web sites, firewalls, e-mail, bulletin boards and a host of other data that may be massaged by multiple entities before being returned to the DDC system. Recognizing the nature of convergence is necessary before the industry can possible address opportunities on a daily basis.

Sinclair - Our September Issue will deal with Industry Restructuring for a Virtual World. Is it happening? Please provide your thoughts on this issue. 

McGowan: Without question, the next horizon for Energy Services is real-time. In this respect, the regular implementation of DDC systems with performance contracts, combined with campus-wide system integration, puts campuses like the University of North Texas at the cutting edge of energy services. To monitor status against baseline with instantaneous measurement and verification is just the first benefit, with the addition of Web-enabled services the entire definition of performance contracting will change.

The evolution of electronic (E)-enabled technology over the next few years will be staggering, and Performance Contracting is the logical way to implement these services. This technology will likely be used to not only manage the guarantee, but to fundamentally change managing energy. At a minimum this will include developing energy consumption profiles to enable procurement of deregulated power, and access to Application Service Providers (ASPs) which will make it possible to manage the entire facility in ways we are just beginning to consider. Leveraging technology including DDC, Computerized Maintenance Management and Web-based ASPs, it is possible to track and manage consumption, thus enabling owners to make intelligent buying decisions regarding energy. More importantly the Internet offers the option to react to building information in real time. Accomplishing this level of sophisticated energy management requires a new skill "System Integration" to merge all of these various technologies applied in facilities. Using systems from companies such as Tridium and imonitoreerngy.com, System Integrators make it possible for owners to be alerted instantaneously of any event, such as a change in market based electric rates, and can implement a Direct Digital Control sequence immediately.

For more information on this topic see my article State-of-the-art Performance Contracting in July EUN.  

Jack McGowan jackmcgowan@energyctrl.com


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