July 2012

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A Holistic Approach to Building Operations

As demand for cost-effective energy and resource management continues to grow, intelligent automated building solutions can help other industrial institutions to reduce energy intensity, increase alternative energy sources, reduce operational costs and find interoperable solutions that integrate with legacy equipment without having to invest huge funds in new equipment.
Benga Erinle
Benga Erinle,
An Ultra Electronics Company

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Efficient and effective energy management is becoming increasingly critical to our status as global citizens, impacting almost every facet of life from infrastructure to defense to education and beyond. The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of energy and our excessive demand on the national electrical grid generates unnecessary costs and security risks. As a result, the grid suffers weaknesses ranging from overtaxed capabilities and outdated equipment to susceptibility from cyber threats. Because of this, the grid has become a source of vulnerability for our critical assets.

The U.S. building sector offers tremendous opportunity for increased energy efficiencies which may ease some of the exorbitant pressures which are taxing the grid. Automated controls and intelligent systems – specifically in the realm of automated buildings – provide a potential solution to the current state of affairs.

Unfortunately, the prevalent approaches to energy management in the industrial sector most often employ a less than holistic strategy. Typical solutions often focus on building systems as proprietary, independent entities with little to no interoperability, rather than as enterprise integrated systems.  While this siloed approach does generate some energy savings, a holistic approach that integrates these systems provides a much greater opportunity for effective energy management.

Integrated Building Automation Systems (BAS) allow users to optimize energy usage through several variables, including occupancy, access control, scheduling and lighting regulation. A holistically integrated system also assesses appropriate HVAC load, awareness of behavioral change, and regulated demand side management. Degrees of granular control can be enabled through a Cognitive Energy Management System (CEMS), which is a larger, occupancy-based BAS designed to intelligently and autonomously manage a building’s internal systems based on occupancy and/or tenant behavior.

CEMS collects data along user-specific profiles, historical and current location data from multiple, complementary distributed sensor technologies. They optimize energy usage by granular, real-time control of large-scale building systems, for example by predicting final and intermediate destinations of personnel over time.

Ideally, CEMS can integrate multi-vendor systems into one monitored environment supported through a single platform from which users can control all of the other systems. This vendor-agnostic capability to integrate and manage from a single platform is the true value of today’s emerging CEMS offerings, as the approach allows for legacy component integration as well.

The U.S. Navy is a prime example of the tremendous potential for the large-scale energy efficiencies that CEMS and their smaller-scale equivalent – EICS (Enterprise Industrial Controls Systems) – are capable of delivering. Thanks to recent mandates driving lower energy consumption across all Federal Agencies, the Navy turned its focus to Green Micro Grids as a means of implementing its own automated building intelligence. These specialized electric grids leverage the best of smart-grid and EICS technology and renewable energy sources, and coordinate them to use energy efficiently, creating a smart infrastructure. Ideally, Green Micro Grids will deliver reliable, economic and sustainable services, which will allow the Navy to use renewable energy sources, monitor and control its consumption, and ultimately achieve zero net-energy use, all within a secure infrastructure framework.

Although these initiatives were created with a view of ultimately generating mass efficiencies, any widespread infrastructure modification requires significant investment. When the Navy was first determining how to achieve the federal mandated objectives, cost was an important factor, particularly considering the challenges presented by their traditionally flat budget and legacy systems.

After extensive evaluation of potential solutions, the Navy chose to implement an EICS built on 3eTI’s EnergyGuard™ and VirtualGuard™ solutions. EnergyGuard is an advanced cyber secure sensor networking system that provides a key component of the architecture to underpin the Navy Green Grid in the Washington DC area. The EICS will ultimately integrate the Naval District Washington (NDW) region’s Direct Digital Controls (DDC) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems into an enterprise network. VirtualGuard is a secure wireless intelligent video network system that enables critical infrastructure protection and connects remote sensors to security operations centers to facilitate alerts, response to, and analysis of security events. Both adhere to the DoD Instruction on Information Assurance (IA) Implementation and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements. The resulting EICS solution is the foundational system, among other systems, that is enabling the Navy to comply with congressional mandates to reduce its energy consumption.

Many Navy buildings were built at different times so they lack common controls and contain unique security vulnerabilities resulting from the Navy’s diverse infrastructure. The 3eTI-based solution was designed to integrate disparate multivendor systems into a local, regional and national system with centralized, real-time monitoring and analysis. The opportunity exists to realize significant cost savings even from small efficiencies generated system-wide. These advantages have paid significant dividends in the Navy environment.

EnergyGuard is one of 27 new DoD emerging energy technologies on military installations to be demonstrated through its installation Energy Test Bed initiative in 2012. These demonstrations generate the cost and performance data needed to validate promising technologies, allowing them to be fielded and commercialized more rapidly. If widely adopted, these technologies will enable DoD’s installations to operate using less energy and they will improve energy security by allowing installations to maintain critical activities even if the commercial electric grid is disrupted.

Reliable Controls These positive measurable results show great promise in helping the Navy and other federal agencies achieve their Green objectives while maintaining DoD levels of security. The benefits of the EnergyGuard solution go far beyond the Navy’s Green Grid initiative. Given that by integrating these systems within a base, then region, and over a national sensor network, the Navy is in fact establishing an element of its Green Grid that enables it to act in the event of another energy crisis. For instance, in an energy crisis, the Navy would be able to centrally secure power to non-essential systems and buildings, thereby ensuring that mission critical systems keep operating.

The commercial applications of EICS technology are significant and far-reaching. The retail, education, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and, of course, government sectors all experience measurable ROI from “smart building” applications beyond the Navy’s initial positive results. Recent statistics indicate that commercial buildings are the largest single consumers of energy in North America; buildings consume two-thirds of our power supply and emit 40% of the greenhouse gasses.1 As demand for cost-effective energy and resource management continues to grow, intelligent automated building solutions can help other industrial institutions to reduce energy intensity, increase alternative energy sources, reduce operational costs and find interoperable solutions that integrate with legacy equipment without having to invest huge funds in new equipment.

Developers and business owners are already realizing the value of investing in “smart buildings” as they recover significant energy savings from improved building performance, at very little cost premium. The granular control and numerous efficiencies these systems can produce, as well as their increasing popularity in smart buildings, is a promising solution to the strain on our national electric grid and may well put the U.S. on the path to energy independence.

1 http://www.tridium.com/galleries/briefings/EB-NiagaraEnergy.pdf

About the Author

Olugbenga (Benga) Erinle, President, 3eTI, an Ultra Electronics company
A co-founder of 3eTI, Mr. Erinle has more than 25 years experience in aligning technology to the needs of business and in transforming start-ups into viable business organizations. He has an excellent track record of building new business segments, achieving revenue and profit growth, securing customer loyalties, shaping new business opportunities and transitioning such into repeatable business. Mr. Erinle is very effective at transforming technology concepts into sustained Federal / DoD programs including the leveraging of Congressional / Government Affairs to establish new programs. He has demonstrated core competency in Federal Contracting with 20+ years of federal contracts experience. Prior to joining 3eTI, he led AEPCO, Inc.'s Navy Networks division including developing a significant role for AEPCO in the Navy Smart Ship program. He has also managed contracting efforts with the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Energy, and Transportation.

Recently, Mr. Erinle, was appointed by NATO’s Civil-Military Planning and Support Section (CMPS) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) as an Electronics Communications Expert in Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (CIIP). As a selected Subject Matter Expert (SME), Mr. Erinle will provide technical advice and guidance on protecting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Critical Information Infrastructures (CII) systems and services which are relied on by millions of people around the globe and that are crucial to successful threat deterrence.

Mr. Erinle holds an MBA from the University of Maryland, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Howard University, and a B.S. in Mathematics from Bowie State University.


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