June 2008
  
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Wireless Energy Management
Transforming the Energy Costs of the Smaller Building

Christina Inge
Christina Inge
Marketing Manager
Spinwave Systems, Inc.

Everyone is thinking about energy management these days. Who can blame them? With energy costs soaring, implementing some form of energy use reduction is fast becoming essential. But for those managing smaller buildings, installing an energy management system can be hard to rationalize in terms of up-front costs. The return on investment with a traditional system may take years to realize, so, often, energy management falls by the wayside. In addition, concerns about business disruption during an installation feed resistance by building owners towards implementing an EMS. The perception remains that EMS is too complex and costly for small buildings, and owners may be reluctant to commit to it.

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With wireless energy management, however, saving energy costs can become a reality-not sometime, but this fiscal quarter. Wireless systems offer a group of advantages that make installation feasible in a far wider range of buildings than is the case with traditional hard-wired systems.

The overwhelming majority of commercial buildings in use today are smaller buildings: 53% of commercial buildings in the United States are between 1,000 and 5,000 square feet. Even in sectors where average square footage tends to be higher, median building sizes are still fairly small: the median size of US educational facilities is 7,000 square feet, while lodging facilities average a 12,500 square foot median size. Smaller commercial spaces thus represent the single largest building automation and energy retrofit market.

Median Size of Commercial Spaces in US

Median Size of Commercial Spaces in US
Data Source: US Dept. of Energy. Chart: Christina Inge

Wireless energy management systems, consisting of flexible configurations of sensors, controls, and submetering devices, solve many of the issues that hold facilities managers and owners back from installing an EMS:

Most energy management systems being planned today are retrofits; wireless is the technology that often makes these installations possible. Installing a wired energy management system is frequently prohibitive in terms of costs, as well as disruption to business. No one has the time to inconvenience their staff for extended periods of time while wires are run throughout a multi-story building. The downtime is just not practical. And for some installations, it’s simply impossible. There is no way to shut down parts of an assisted living facility while retrofits take place, for example. Construction materials themselves often mandate the use of a wireless solution. Over 80% of hotels in the US are constructed of concrete, for instance, making wired products very difficult to install. Wireless sensors and controls make energy management installations feasible in a number of buildings where nothing else would be possible.

As wireless technology becomes more widely adopted, the potential exists to dramatically reduce the energy consumption of commercial buildings. Smaller buildings can now be a part of this transformation, as wireless technology’s flexibility and affordability make energy management more possible on an unprecedented level.

About Spinwave Systems’ Wireless Energy Management

Spinwave Systems’ wireless energy management system has been specifically designed to be scalable to many different size buildings, from relatively small commercial facilities to large industrial and residential properties.

Number of Commercial Buildings in US by Size

Number of Commercial Buildings in US by Size
Data Source: US Dept. of Energy. Chart: Christina Inge

CatNet Systems Spinwave’s energy management products consist of:

The Modbus radio enables the use of a broad number of devices in a wireless automation or energy management system. Adding the Modbus radio to existing device installations greatly expands control capabilities. Increases functionality, and allows the collection of more building and energy usage data.

For more information, visit http://www.spinwavesystems.com, or contact Spinwave Systems directly at 978-392-9000, ext. 225 or info@spinwavesystems.com


About the Author
Christina Inge is the marketing manager for Spinwave Systems, Inc., a leader in developing wireless sensors and controls for the energy management and building automation markets. She can be reached at cinge@spinwavesystems.com.

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