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Energy and buildings are intertwined in a symbiotic relationship, and there is an unprecedented opportunity for automated smart buildings to enhance this relationship. The next frontier for building automation will deal with energy, in particular electricity; and the role that it can play with buildings and the systems within them, to drive reductions in the cost for and consumption of energy. AHR in 2008 will have a major focus on the greening of buildings and electricity is integral to that discussion. One of the hottest topics nationally today is energy and when combined with the climate change issue there is a great deal more for automation to do than just control temperature. At this writing the price of oil is approaching $100 per barrel and the Paris based International Energy Agency’s annual report just published predicts that China will surpass the United States as the world’s largest polluter in 2007 and as the world’s largest energy consumer by 2010. A major driver for pollution is electric generation and therefore Smart Buildings and the Smart Grid, deployed effectively in North America, can set the standard for steps that need to be taken to create a global solution. This article has been adapted for integrator’s from a column in Engineered System’s Green Intelligent Buildings Today and continues the strong collaboration between www.automatedbuildings.com and that magazine.
Considering the intersection of buildings, energy and environment, this graphic was used at the recent Building Automation and BACnet International conference, sponsored by Engineered Systems and Business News Publishing, to illustrate a point. This is a simple message; smart buildings use energy in a clean and efficient way thus becoming green buildings. Clearly this is not in complete synchronization with the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) definition of green buildings, but in the larger context of energy and the environment building intelligence may be more critical than many other factors.
With regard to the link between building energy use and the environment, recent data from the Department of Energy indicates that electricity generation is responsible for 39% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the American Institute of Architects credits buildings alone with responsibility for 48% of greenhouse gas emissions. There is some overlap between these numbers since buildings are large electricity users and the burning of fuel to produce that electricity is what causes part of the greenhouse gas emissions contributed by the building sector. There has also been solid research done to validate the fact that these emissions increase at times of peak electric demand. This is because utilities must fire their least efficient and highest polluting power plants to meet peak electric demand. This is really just another way to embrace the whole idea of green buildings, but more importantly to emphasize that HVAC, automation and energy efficiency are highly important parts of the equation. Integrators can’t tell a story about how our work addresses building siteing, urban redevelopment, bike racks or recycled carpet. They can however tell a story about energy and demand response. They may be able to help pay for their services with dollars from the utility.
The GridWise Architecture Council www.gridwiseac.org recently sponsored Grid-Interop, an event focusing on the idea of interoperability between the grid and consumers including building owners. This gathering was part conference, but more importantly is was an outreach effort on behalf of the GridWise Council to seek input and develop collaboration between a diverse group of industry participants. These participants included building industry thought leaders like Jim Lee of Cimetrics and Toby Considine of the University of North Carolina and Chair of the oBix committee, who brought a new collaborative perspective to GridWise. A number of industry experts in the area of Demand Response also contributed to an understand of how smart buildings can develop near term results and they included Mary Ann Piete of the Demand Response Research Center and Tim Daniels of Constellation NewEnergy, along with a number of participants in the NewEnergy Alliance. This alliance is made up of manufacturers and integrators in the buildings space that see Demand Response as an immediate opportunity for building systems joined together with the electricity industry to create solutions, and are working to educate the broader automation industry about the potential. One of the goals for this event was to move forward a framework for understanding what is necessary to integrate buildings and the electric grid. The council is trying to act as a catalyst for technology that will reduce the distance to integrate building and electric systems in a way that brings value to both.
With a forecasted 40% increase in electric demand and an expected need for $900 billion in electric infrastructure investment to keep pace with that demand, smart buildings can play a huge role in relieving pressure now and in the future. That means that the building can be viewed as a source of power and that automation systems can execute new strategies to shift electric load and take pressure off of peak demand time. Through demand response the customer gets paid for doing this which generates cash to buy or expand and upgrade automation and energy management technology. This is a real opportunity to leverage programs from Independent System Operators (electricity wholesalers) and the utilities (electricity retailers) that are willing to pay owners cash to help them shift load from critical peak periods. The translation is that customers may be able to pay for controls upgrades with the utilities money. There is a multi-billion dollar market potential, and to really be successful it will have to leverage the energy control capabilities of automation systems. GridWise is about using interoperability to enable new business models that allow for the transaction associated with buying and selling electricity to be opened up. Think of our early experiences with the Internet. Mainly people just surfed or maybe sent an email, and consider now how companies like eBay, Amazon and Google have built business models that are highly profitable based on the Web. In the same way Demand Response (DR) is a great early stage business example of how automation technology is being used to help utilities control and shift the demand for power at critical times. DR is evolving into a very real business proposition that will bring value to the electric system and revenue to building owners and control companies.
There is a unique opportunity for buildings and systems industry professionals to leverage automation technology to participate in DR. Those who want to learn more about these automation opportunities with the electric grid should be at the AHR ASHRAE conference in New York this January 2008. The GridWise Architecture Council is an Endorsing Organization of this show and will be offering two free education sessions to learn more about GridWise and how it will affect buildings www.ahrexpo.com/education/freesessions.php. One session at AHR will be on Global Warming and GridWise and the second is called “The new Building Automation: Energy Demand Response”. This is an unparalleled opportunity for building systems and it will be well worth the time. In addition there is talk about a Building to Grid Summit that would provide integrators with the chance to learn from the early adopters in the new and exciting arena. Either way the free sessions above will be must attend sessions for any integrator who wants to know where their business should be going in the next year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John J. “Jack” Mc Gowan, CEM is an author and President / CEO of Energy Control Inc., an Energy Service Company and System Integrator. Mc Gowan is Chairman of the U. S. Department of Energy GridWise Architecture Council. He 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 accepted him into the International Energy Managers Hall of Fame in 2004 and was named 1997 “International Energy Professional of the Year”. He is listed in Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, Millennium edition, Marquis Press. Mc Gowan sits on the Engineers Systems Technical Advisory Board, is Editor of the GridWise Green Building Column in Green Intelligent Buildings Today, and is a Contributing Editor with www.automatedbuildings.com.
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