May 2012

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Interacting with Energy

Our daily interaction manipulating energy must be done with a lot of personal energy, but now involves interaction with our energy source the smart grid.

  Ken Sinclair,

Energy Manager
Energy Manager

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'Interacting with Energy' is a play on words at several levels. Our daily interaction manipulating energy must be done with a lot of personal energy, but now involves interaction with our energy source the smart grid. In addition the tools of our industry such as wireless sensors are now starting to use energy harvesting to interact with energy on a micro scale and if this is not enough interaction, we are now starting to interact with the building envelope, fenestration, onsite energy generation with renewables and the list goes on. Please join me in our interaction with energy on so many levels.

Extracted from The Future of Enterprise Energy Management
Mike Putich, director, Climatec – Building Technologies Group

It is not unusual to walk into a building engineering office today and see four to six disparate building systems; all running on their own computers and networks, performing related building functions independently, with none of them able to leverage the combined information to run the building efficiently or holistically. It is not uncommon for a commercial building to have separate systems to control the HVAC building automation system (BAS), Tenant Activity (card access, after hour billing system), Lighting Control, Fire & Life Safety, Video surveillance, and Work Order Management.

Today building owners, managers and operators are being asked to improve the performance of their assets by lowering operating costs, improving tenant satisfaction and implementing sustainability efforts while being good stewards of the environment. They are being asked to do this in an economic climate that offers limited, or no access to capital for improvements, and with limited staff and systems capabilities.

From Brad’s article comes the necessity to do all this continuously:
Continuous Optimization
Brad White, principal, SES Consulting Inc.

Why Continuous?
Anyone with experience in building automation knows that, from time to time, your system needs a tune up. Building performance declines over time and, as a consequence, energy use increases. Poor performance can be the result of deficiencies in the original commissioning, broken or miss-calibrated sensors, conflicting set points, or manually overridden equipment to name a few common problems.

The standard response to these issues is to embark on a retro-commissioning (RCx) of building systems; identifying and fixing all the issues that have arisen over time. Although RCx can be very effective at reducing energy consumption in a building, the persistence of savings can be poor. In a few years you’re likely to find many of the same problems and poor performance that existed before. Breaking out of this cycle is the motivation for Continuous Optimization.

Jack McGowan, industry sage and personal friend, adds the following perspective:
Energy 2.0
Jack McGowan, President, Energy Control Inc.

Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR) is an important, emerging standard for implementing demand response for commercial, industrial and residential customers. Backed by an impressive list of leading utilities, ISOs and suppliers, the OpenADR 2.0 standard will play an important role in grid optimization.)

The importance of Smart Grid to buildings has been completely lost for most owners, except those getting paid to participate in Demand Response. Yet Smart Grid, in a broader context, represents an opportunity for new building revenue streams, allowing them to become virtual power plants and energy profit centers. It is about transforming the electricity business model to unlock capital and operating cost benefits for building owners. Energy efficiency and green buildings, along with their respective benefits, have become second nature to facility professionals in last decade, but Demand Response, and ultimately Smart Grid, can unleash even more benefits. What should buildings owners know; what is the difference between Demand Response and Smart Grid, why is it happening, how can buildings benefit and what does it cost to play? Each question is answered here.

This picture depicts some Smart Grid basics. By definition, a Smart Grid is an interconnected system of information and communication technologies, and electricity generation, transmission, distribution and end use technologies which will enable consumers, in this case: building owners, to manage their usage and chose the most economically efficient offering, while maintaining delivery system reliability and stability enhanced by automation and environmentally optimal generation alternatives including renewable generation and energy storage. That is a bit of a mouthful, though it gets to the heart of what is underway, but why? The best way to explain this is to start with a question; what would happen if Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison came back to life tomorrow and observed the industries they were instrumental in creating? If Bell was handed an iPhone™ and asked to make a call, he would not know how to do it. Edison on the other hand would be able to explain, in fairly technical detail, how every aspect of today’s electric system works! It has not changed in ~100 years! Bob Galvin, former Chairman of Motorola and founder of the Galvin Electricity Initiative (Galvin), puts it another way. Mr. Galvin was instrumental in starting the cell phone industry and he compares electricity today to telecom in the early 1980’s, a monopoly business model, pent up need for innovation, and no way to unleash entrepreneurial business models. Speaking of business models, Demand Response (DR) and the OpenADR standard represent a near-term killer app in the buildings space. I know, the term killer app has been overused, but getting paid to implement a control strategy is pretty exciting. For those who are new to this topic, the OpenADR standards was developed at Berkley Labs and it is in the vanguard of initial Smart Grid Standards that should be mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] I believe it is important that we watch evolving trends in the USA to better understand the necessity of a smart grid change in Canada.

"The Green Button
Dr Martin Burns, SGIP Administrator Team

Dynamic pricing is coming. Many of you are already under some kind of time of use billing basis with your power provider. Energy management, in its essence, is trading off the comfort of the occupants for the cost of energy. With dynamic pricing, a time-relative determinant of pricing will now become part of the calculus of how to make these trade-offs.

The building controls industry has long relied on sub-optimal means of acquiring the needed actual energy usage of a facility for this purpose. Typically pulse meters are tapped to gain at least some measure of usage. Some utilities have begun to make available detailed usage from time of use meters on various bases.

Enter the Green Button. This initiative (CLICK HERE to see related news release) establishes a standardized format for the exchange of measurement data within the home, commercial, and industrial facilities. The Green Button originated with a White House “call to action”. However, Green Button is the result of a remarkable process of voluntary industry collaboration and adoption among stakeholders with only the facilitation by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Institute of Standards (NIST) and their creation the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP). The latter is a group of some several hundred stakeholder organizations that have come together to coordinate the development and deployment of standards on behalf of the Smart Grid.

The Green Button is three things primarily:
• It is a US government Policy initiative designed to inspire an ecosystem in the generation and consumption of Energy Usage Information (EUI) in the marketplace,
• It is a “Brand” that allows a recognition of the availability of this ecosystem and what is for and can do for the consumer,
• And, last but not least it is a collection of technologies that allow for the implementation of interoperating products and services. This includes standards, testing and certification, and reference open-source implementations.

In yet another article “Effective Daylight Management through Building Automation” reminds us that in all this energy interaction we must not forget the windows.

As you can see by all of the above your future will depend on your personal interaction with energy.


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