January 2010


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We can expect energy management systems to evolve for individuals or specific spaces or functions.

Jim Sinopoli PE, RCDD, LEED AP
Managing Principal,
Smart Buildings LLC

Contributing Editor

“Never make predictions, especially about the future.” - Casey Stengel
American Baseball Player and Manager, 1891-1975

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• Energy Conservation Measures will be Monetized
In order to retrofit and upgrade existing buildings to high performance buildings, owners will need to borrow money to fund the upfront capital costs. For banks and financial institutions to provide such credit they need to clearly identify their risks. Specifically, they need to know with some certainty the energy savings and payback period for each Energy Conservation Measure (ECM) that the building owner will undertake; such as lighting retrofits, mechanical systems replacements, control system upgrades etc. The market will move to some form of actuarial science to assess risk by using statistical and mathematical methods and studies of implemented energy measures to provide ECM “actuarial” tables for different regions and different climates. The ECM actuarial tables for the finance industry will spur credit for the upgrades and accelerate the improvements in the existing building stock.

• Developers Will Generate New Revenue Streams Related To Energy
Developers are always looking for ways to increase their net income and energy will become the newest opportunity. Expect developers to buy energy at wholesale rates and retail the energy to their tenants and building owners, embrace alternative energy sources and sell energy back to the grid, offer services to tenants such as energy information and management reports, generate revenues from recharging electric vehicles and provide similar services for the monitoring and management of gas and water.

• Green Attorneys
There was a period when 25% of new buildings that received LEED certification did not meet their energy performance design goals. Currently however, the LEED and Energy Star designations are performance based. What we can now expect is that when someone buys or leases a building or building space with an energy certification based on energy performance and the building or space does not perform, tenants and owners will sue. Damages may be the projected increases in energy costs over the life of the building, lack of thermal comfort, inadequate lighting staining the eyes etc. Architects, MEP firms, LEED APs, developers, facility managers, facility technicians, building owners, contractors and property managers may all be potential targets. Some will hail this as an economic stimulus, creating new employment of “green attorneys”.

• Demand Response Planning Will Emerge
Everyone is talking about the utility grid providing demand response (DR) signals. Hardly anyone is talking about how a large building owner develops a plan to respond to the DR signals. A new field called “Demand Response Planning” will emerge. Whether it’s a manual or automated response or a combination of the two, the building owner has to make choices about what equipment is going to be unplugged, where lighting may be dimmed or shut off, whether thermostats should be turned down etc. That plan will have to take into account several factors such as the type of space utilization, the time of day, and the functions affected. Plans are going to have to be well thought out in order to maximize the energy decrease while minimizing the affect of the reduction in energy usage.

• Facility Management Tools Will Use Augmented Reality And 3-D
Operating a high performance building will require high performance tools. Think 3-D, augmented reality and BIM. Building Information Modeling is primarily used for design, construction and pre-fabrication of assemblies. Its benefits during this stage of building are improved design, design coordination and collusion detection. Its benefit for building operation has primarily been the extraction of data from the design and construction phases into a facility management system. In 2010 expect facility management systems to incorporate 3-D BIM-like aspects to allow facility managers to visualize and understand the complex interactions within their buildings. In addition, we’ll start to see the use of augmented reality. If you watched an American football game where the first down marker is imposed on the field, or a hockey game where the direction of the puck is outlined, you’ve seen the reality (the football field or hockey rink) augmented with the virtual, done in real-time and 3-D. Imagine 3D models of mechanical and electrical systems augmented with real time data and you start to have tools to manage high performance buildings.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] • Micro Energy Management Systems
We tend to think of energy management systems as large enterprise-wide systems. We can expect energy management systems to evolve for individuals or specific spaces or functions. Individuals will have an energy management system on their laptops and calculate their carbon footprint at their desk. By 2011 we can expect PC software manufacturers to start offering middleware applications to allow users to monitor and manage their localized energy systems, such as plugloads, lighting and thermal comfort.

• The Smart Grid Will Redefine Home Automation And Media Centers
It is one thing to have a home automation system turn your lights off and on or a home media system which allows access to 200 high definition channels but the smart grid changes all that. The home automation system now has to communicate with the utility grid. The telecom service provider to the home is no longer the only utility supplying content and communication to the home. In fact, the media center is one of the larger energy users in the home and could possibly be managed by the smart grid. The smart grid forces the home automation market to re-think and re-invent residential systems, adding layers of new intelligence, communications and protocols not previously seen.

• Facial Recognition Will Replace Proximity Cards And Credit Cards
Video surveillance cameras have advanced the use of facial recognition. Admittedly, it’s difficult to pick out one face in a large crowd, such as people walking into a stadium (although it’s been used). However, on an individual basis, facial recognition is pretty good. With your face as your ID, gone will be the need for credit cards and access control cards. The upside is better security. Credit cards can be stolen and access control cards can be passed from person to person, not so with your face. Such video surveillance systems will also provide data to other building systems, not only who and when a person enters a building, but also where they go within a building. The raw data of how many people are occupying a space in real-time will allow the precise alignment of occupancy and energy use, and create new metrics for space planning.

I look forward to a chance to talk with you at the AutomatedBuildings.com free education sessions at  2010 AHR Expo - Orlando "Building Automation and the Cloud"


For more information about smart buildings, technology design or to schedule a Continuing Education program, email jsinopoli@smart-buildings.com.


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