December 2011

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Graham MartinEMAIL INTERVIEW - Graham Martin and Ken Sinclair

Graham Martin, Chairman & CEO EnOcean Alliance

Graham Martin is a veteran of the electronics industry with more than 25 years' experience in analog and RF solutions. Before joining EnOcean, he held various engineering and marketing posts in the USA and Europe. Most recently he was responsible for business development at wireless sensor networks specialist Chipcon. At the same time he was president of Figure8Wireless and vice chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. Graham Martin studied in the USA and Britain, and graduated with a degree in physics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

2011 EnOcean Alliance

the wireless standard for sustainable buildings - update

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Sinclair: How has the EnOcean standard for sustainable buildings developed over the past year?  

Martin:  The EnOcean Alliance – an open consortium of building automation companies promoting  energy efficient buildings – has grown 40% to over 230 member companies in the past year.  The number of interoperable building automation products has grown to over 800 and now over 200.000 buildings have been successfully deployed using the technology.  The ISO / IEC Standardization of the technology is close to completion.  We have developed close partnerships with the major building automation backbones such as BACnet (ASHRAE), LONWorks, KNX and more recently TCP/IP gateway providers.  Geographically speaking, in addition to our traditional strong installation base in Europe, we are beginning to see a much higher level of activity in North America and a huge interest now from Japan and China.

Sinclair:  What differentiates EnOcean based systems from other energy efficient building automation solutions? 

Martin:  The unique feature of EnOcean based systems is that the sensors and switches can be self-powered, that is they require no cable and no battery to power themselves, enabling simple & flexible as well as disruption-free installation which is maintenance-free for decades.  They are powered by energy harvesting methods, such as the energy in pressing a switch or turning a handle (mechanical energy), room-light (solar energy) or temperature difference (thermal energy).  The sensors can store energy so that they can still operate once the energy source is removed (e.g. in total darkness). 

Sinclair:  How much energy can be saved with such systems and what are the ROIs? 

Martin:  We are typically seeing energy savings of between 20% and 40% with ROIs of between 1 and 5 years.  This depends upon a number of factors such as the initial state of the building (and user profile), climatic factors and whether it is primarily HVAC or lighting (or both).  ROIs can be shorter for building owners / operators claiming the government tax incentives for energy efficient retrofits.  A higher percentage of lighting energy can typically be saved, but higher total energy savings and shorter ROIs are seen typically in automating heating or cooling systems. In commercial buildings we are seeing the most savings and shortest ROIs, especially in the hospitality, office, retail and educational branches.  

Sinclair:  You mention tax incentives for building owners / operators investing in energy efficiency.  Can you give us some more insight?

Martin:  There are numerous schemes in North America, including a federal tax deduction in USA for commercial property owners, architects or contractors of up to $1.80 per square foot for new builds or retrofits between 2006 and 2013.  The deduction is available to anyone who funds the investment. The tax deduction is available for HVAC, Lighting and Building Envelope (each 60 cents per square foot) improvements measured against the standards set in 2001.  Building automation technology such as EnOcean can easily qualify for the HVAC and Lighting incentives.

Sinclair:  What new trends have you seen in the past year? 

Martin:  One new trend is the wide-scale implementation of EnOcean – TCP/IP automated systems, especially in energy efficient retrofit scenarios.   Many existing buildings do not have automation – so have no cables in place for sensors & switches nor for the so-called automation backbone.  Most buildings have however internet, so it is now possible at low invest and no disruption to a buildings operation to basically “peel & stick” EnOcean based sensors and switches in an existing building and connect these to the internet allowing monitoring and controlling of any building also remotely via cell phone or computer.  Applications for various cell phones can easily be downloaded showing the status and energy use of a room, floor or entire building and enabling the user to control.   The simplicity and low cost of such an implementation is also helping the residential market to develop rapidly.

Sinclair:  What new innovative building automation products can you tell us about and what will be their impact?  

Martin:  The world’s first self-powered CO2 sensor, the world’s first thermal powered valve and the world’s first self-powered air distribution vent are now available and will be launched in North America at the AHR Show in Chicago in January.    A “peel & stick” maintenance free CO2 sensor (room light powered) will completely simplify monitoring and enable the building to easily ensure adequate fresh air supply with minimum energy use, for example in a classroom or an office environment.  Thermal powered valves (powered by the temperature difference between the hot water pipe and the surrounding air) will enable adjustment of hot water heating systems, for example when the room is unoccupied or a window is open, helping to save significant heating energy.   The room-light powered air distribution vent enables the airflow direction to be optimized helping to save up to 30% heating or cooling energy (this works on the principle that hot air should be blown towards the floor, cold air should be blown towards the ceiling.)  In addition we are seeing new innovative award winning receiver products enabling communication between EnOcean based sensors with BACnet, TCP/IP and ZigBee networks.

Sinclair:  Do EnOcean systems interoperate with BACnet, LONworks and other building automation systems?

Martin:  Yes.  EnOcean based sensors and switches typically cover “room-level” communication – i.e. the last 30 to 100 feet.   Thereafter it is very common in a commercial environment to have a receiver connected to the building “backbone” which typically could be BACnet, LONworks, KNX or TCP/IP based which can communicate bi-directionally with the EnOcean products allowing integration in a complete building or number of buildings with remote monitoring and control.  EnOcean products also can communicate with Smart Meters /Smart Grid enabling integration into energy monitoring and demand response systems.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Sinclair:  $ Billions are being invested in the Smart Grid – what does this mean for energy efficiency in buildings and how does EnOcean technology fit into this? 

Martin:  One very common misunderstanding is that the Smart Grid / Smart Meters mean automatically energy efficient buildings.  The Smart Grid will help to reduce the total amount of power generated through intelligent distribution and reduction of peak load demand, but certainly does not mean that your building has become energy efficient.  To do this it is necessary to monitor and control your building using the various sensors (temperature, occupancy, sunlight, CO2 etc.) helping to reduce energy constantly and not just when the Grid asks you to.  The ideal situation is obviously having both solutions in a building communicating with each other.  EnOcean solutions already interoperate with the Smart Grid / Smart Meter world via TCP/IP achieving maximum energy efficiency and cost reductions. 

Sinclair:  There are numerous wireless standards all claiming to be the leader.  How can building professionals decide which of these is the best for them?  

Martin:  Most wireless standards are leading in one or more application areas, but there is no single standard which can cover every requirement.  For example, WiFi is excellent for transporting large amounts of data rapidly into and subsequently through the internet, Bluetooth is excellent for transporting short range voice data, cell phone networks are excellent for voice and data typically to a mast in the neighborhood and subsequently through the entire network, ZigBee has been field trialed in smart metering neighborhood mesh-networks and the EnOcean standard is ideal for transporting short and simple control or monitoring signals within buildings powered by energy harvesting.   The important point for everyone is to decide what the most important requirements are, for example building owners need to decide what and how much data the system has to communicate and how it should be powered / maintained.  For sensors and switches inside a building the most important issues are usually installation, flexibility and maintenance.  Building owners do not want expensive and disruptive fixed cable installation if can be avoided and they certainly do not want to maintain hundreds or thousands of batteries in buildings. Batteries fail at different points in time, batteries are stolen, batteries need to be accessed to replace and they need to be stocked and disposed of – all a nightmare for a large building owner or facility manager.  In addition building owners want simple to operate interoperable solutions These signals can be subsequently integrated into the building management system (BACnet, TCP/IP etc.) providing the best of all worlds.

Sinclair:  We have seen a crisis in the building industry over the past years – how has this affected the EnOcean development? 

Martin:  This has actually increased the adoption of the technology.  In new builds, building owners are now looking at how they can differentiate, how they can save energy and / or how they can have their building LEED certified – all of which increase the chances of selling / renting the property.  In existing buildings, energy efficient retrofits have become increasingly popular (partly for the same reasons but also) because of increasing energy costs and more awareness of energy efficiency and the wish to save CO2 output.


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