September 2007
  
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Are you ready for changing 21st Century energy markets?
Energy resources will continue to become increasingly scarce, however, their scarcity and attendant price escalation drives technological improvements in building, operating and maintaining the facilities that use those resources.

Peter M. Schwartz,
Principal
Peter Schwartz & Associates, LLC
pmschwartz@sbcglobal.net

We all know that one thing is constant and that is change. Some find change exciting, some find change threatening. Change is represented by global warming, electricity deregulation, technology advancement, an aging infrastructure, volatile stock and commodity markets, and the industrialization of China, India and the rest of the Pacific Rim. All these issues, economic, global, technical, directly or indirectly, impact building designers, owners and facility managers on various levels. We can choose to fight change; we can choose to embrace change. This article will briefly discuss how you can embrace new technology development to prepare your facilities for changing electricity/energy markets, improve customer satisfaction, minimize your facilities carbon footprint and reduce your contribution to Greenhouse Gas Emissions. We will also provide solutions to overcome institutional barriers or decision-maker fears about embracing change in a positive and sustainable manner.

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Figure 1: Shanghai at nightElectricity markets are evolving before us and will continue to change, as political pressure comes to bear on the built environment and the infrastructure required to serve existing and developing loads. Indeed, market pressures are building on a variety of fronts: from increasing cost and price volatility of energy commodities to recognition that our aging energy infrastructure is insufficient to meet the needs of the 21st Century. That is where the rampant development, double-digit growth and increased power consumption in Pacific Rim nations and India comes into play. Some 400 million Chinese are projected to migrate from the countryside to urban centers by 2025.

One thing became immediately obvious when I traveled to Shanghai in May of 2005 to speak at an international energy conference -- China lacked the energy resources to meet its seemingly boundless development appetite. All day and night, coal barges plied the Huangpu River bringing fuel to highly polluting generation stations. As evidence of their environmental impact, the sky rarely varies from its ever-present grey hue. In fact, Shanghai with its approximately 18 million permanent residents today, is slated to exceed over 25 million people by 2025 as it continues to build large satellite cities (See Sidebar from Popular Science article).

Energy resources will continue to become increasingly scarce; however, their scarcity and attendant price escalation drives technological improvements in building, operating and maintaining the facilities that use those resources. More and more facilities are better able to control their buildings systems as new technology enables communications between life/safety, HVAC, transport, security and electrical systems. The key challenge is integrating these systems across the various platforms with their differing communication protocols to allow operators to nimbly control their buildings. This becomes increasingly important as electricity markets shift to mandatory real-time pricing or critical-peak pricing and rate structures, and demand response (DR) programs become more prevalent (and more lucrative).

Smart Grid initiatives, including GridWise written about by Jack McGowan in earlier issues, provide another important impetus to adopt newly available building technologies. Historically, HVAC has been the end use of choice when it came to building control technology with the evolution of direct-digital control (DDC) and the introduction of BACNet and LonWorks communication protocols in the mid-1990s.

Now lighting has entered the fray with the introduction of enhanced automation combined with more efficient, higher quality lighting systems. Technology innovation in the lighting sector is beginning to mirror the development in consumer electronics. Manufacturers are taking advantage of devices incorporating digitally addressable lighting interface (DALI) and other protocols. We are seeing major advances in wireless sensing and control devices, power-line carriers and web-based control solutions. The trend is toward lighting systems that speak several control languages and can communicate with building automation systems (BAS) well beyond the typical ON-OFF signal. This empowers facility managers to dynamically control a somewhat neglected end use that typically comprises about 29 percent of a commercial buildings peak demand (kW) and 34 percent of its annual electricity consumption (kWh/year). (See Figure 2.)

Lighting has other advantages. It is a more amenable electricity load for implementing DR strategies versus HVAC strategies because it has less impact on human comfort. The human eye adapts more readily to dimming lighting levels than the human body adapts to increasing thermal conditions without adversely impacting productivity. That said, programs to implement DR strategies should weigh all factors systemically.

CatNet Systems The drive is to create Smart Buildings tied to a Smart Grid with the following net benefits:

• Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
• Lowered demand for natural resources
• Improved electric system reliability
• Improved standard of living
• Increased customer satisfaction
• Improved economic efficiency

I am currently directing an advanced technology program for large facilities in California that provides evidence of success in creating highly efficient, dynamically controlled buildings. The buildings involved will employ advanced lighting systems incorporating direct/indirect fixtures, with occupancy and photosensors, efficient fluorescent lamps and dimming electronic ballasts tied to enhanced control systems to enable personal and building-wide control in large facilities resulting in over 50 percent savings. (See Table 1 below outlining potential lighting system energy savings by control strategy.) The latest control technologies help minimize O&M costs because they can produce lighting system data indicating impending or actual lamp or ballast failures and report this information to facilities manager via computer networks or the web on your PDA or laptop.

These smart lighting system controls are integrated with the BAS that are, in turn, integrated with electric distribution system to create the basis for a Smart Grid. This enables building operators to cost-effectively operate their facilities like Negawatt power plants and effectively participate on the revenue-generating side of the evolving electricity markets.

IIn the past, we could only hope to produce energy cost-reductions. Now todays technologies can do much more. You will be able to see many of these advances at the upcoming 2007 Building Automation Conference.

The first thing to understand is that China's problem is our own. For every Chinese peasant who moves to the city—400 million are expected to do so in the next two decades, the greatest urban migration in history—the world loses someone who lives off the land and gains someone who lives on the grid. This year, for the first time ever, the planet has more urbanites than rural residents, a shift attributable in large part to China and its dozens of million-person cities you've never heard of. City dwellers in the developing world use at least three times as much energy as those in the country. The richer they get—the richer China gets—the more they use. China's economic boom, a 10 percent increase in GDP every year, is twice that of America's at the height of the dot-com era and shows no signs of relenting. Half of the world's new buildings go up in China. The country has constructed the equivalent of the U.S. highway system in a decade. It adds the electricity use of Norway, 102 gigawatts, to its power grid every year and builds the equivalent of three coal-fired electricity plants every week (not one, as is usually reported). Last year, it produced 2.3 billion metric tons of coal, 40 percent of the world's total and more than the U.S., Russia and India combined.

Excerpted from China's Green Evolution, McKenzie Funk, Popular Science, August 2007

Table 1: Lighting Control Strategy Potential Energy Savings. Compiled and collated from personal conversations and industry research. First presented at Right Light 6 Conference, Shanghai, May 2005.


About the Author
Peter Schwartz has more than 30 years’ experience in the energy and utility industries. He is an internationally recognized expert in energy efficiency and building technologies. His California-based energy-consulting firm, Peter Schwartz & Associates, LLC, specializes in energy infrastructure, strategic planning, research and sustainable project development.

He is currently directing Pacific Gas and Electricity Company’s Advanced Technology Program for Federal Buildings, a pilot program working with Federal agencies to test and to deploy energy-efficient technologies that integrate enhanced lighting controls, BAS and energy information management systems to enable real-time demand response and to pre-pare their participant facilities for evolving electricity markets.

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