January 2009
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Working with the Wind in Chicago

Next week, there will be a lot of wind surrounding the AHR Expo, the largest conference anywhere dedicated to the efficient movement of air, and thereby the biggest energy-related conference of the year.

Toby ConsidineToby Considine
Systems Specialist,
Facility Services, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
The New Daedalus
As posted Sunday, January 18, 2009 2:50PM

Contributing Editor

Chicago has long been known as the windy city, for its promises of its politicians and the quantity of its conventions and conferences. Next week, there will be a lot of wind surrounding the AHR Expo, the largest conference anywhere dedicated to the efficient movement of air, and thereby the biggest energy-related conference of the year. Numerous engineering and energy related conferences and meetings will be in town to take advantage of the more than 50,000 attendees. I, too, will be blowing into town, giving some talks, participating in some meetings, and planning still others. This may be the last time I am in Chicago until March, so drop me a line to schedule a meeting if you want to discuss plans or alignment while I am there.

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The GridWise Architectural Council (GWAC) has put together several sessions as part of an AHR conference track explaining the mission of the GridWise Alliance and opportunities created by the smart grid. On Monday, I will speak on academic energy initiatives, their problems, and their promise. Many academic leaders have signed the American College and University President’s Climate Initiative, committing their institutions to change how their schools are operated in ways that are verifiable and repeatable. Unfortunately, these efforts often are characterized more by proper feelings than by proper actions, and the results are often poor. Examples abound of efforts such as the Oberlin College Lewis Center, designed to be a net zero building, yet actually producing poor performance for years before retrofits finally delivered on its promise. Other green initiatives, including some at the University of North Carolina, have made performance worse. Efforts that address only new buildings using new standards without providing for cost effective inclusion existing buildings will have little effect.

This session will provide an overview of the initiative and its participants. I will discuss existing and developing standards for making building operations and energy use visible beyond the confines of the traditional campus maintenance and operations organization. I will describe efforts to make building operations responsive to the academic and research activities, and how these actions interact with growing campus concerns over security and emergency awareness. A clear understanding of these issues is needed for any college and university to meet these goals. A clear understanding of the problems and developing standards will help the energy professional compete and perform better in this market. These same knowledge and skills apply to the challenges of new national energy initiatives and will help the professional respond to anticipated Obama federal infrastructure programs.

On Tuesday, also at the AHR show, I will be teaming up with Ken Sinclair, editor of the Automated Buildings e-zine, to aim a little farther out. We will discuss the vision of interactive buildings as full participants in the smart grid. Building-to-Grid (B2G) interactions will create whole new business models outside buildings. Developing communication standards between building and grid will make the economic consequences of each operating decision visible. These communications will be critical to the development of Net Zero Energy (NZE) buildings. Economic service interactions will create new markets for building-based equipment and new models for building system integration. Come to this session to learn what these new markets will look like, and how today’s system designs are changing to prepare for them.

Reliable Controls On Wednesday and Thursday, I will join a couple of Department of Energy (DOE) summits on the new standards. Wednesday afternoon, the B2G Summit will bring together an impressive group of thought leaders in technology and policy to brief the HVAC and BAS industry on the business opportunities from the smart grid. The conversations between and after sessions at the Summit are always as informative and useful as the sessions. On Thursday, the DOE Commercial Building Energy Alliances have announced their own summit for HVAC, Refrigeration, and Controls Suppliers. The summit will focus on retrofitting existing buildings. The summit will address all products related to energy efficiency in buildings, except for lighting. Drop me a line if you want to catch up with me at either of these events or to schedule a discussion on how these standards might work into your plants.

The activity I am personally most excited by, however, is meetings to plan GridEcon. GridEcon will explore the economic and market requirements of the smart grid. None of the smart technologies I write about will be adopted without a firm basis in economics and markets. The primary benefit of informational interoperability in building systems and in smart energy systems will be the creation of dynamic markets, markets that reduce technological friction and reward innovation. GridEcon will take advantage of the great Chicago-based markets in commodities and weather, and of the technologists behind their trading systems, to help create the market rules we will need. Watch for future announcements of this conference which will be in Chicago in mid-March.

See you in the Windy City!

 

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