September 2011

Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Anno Scholten

EMAIL INTERVIEWAnno Scholten and Ken Sinclair

Connexx Energy    Anno Scholten, President, Connexx Energy

Anno Scholten, C.E.M, C.D.S.M, is President of Connexx Energy a company that connects technology and people with energy. 
Anno has spent the last 25 years driving innovation in building control systems and smart grid technologies.  He has developed leading edge, smart grid energy products for the commercial building markets that have included Constellation Energy where he helped lead the design of Constellation’s pioneering automated demand response system, VirtuWatt Energy Manager and as the CTO for Novus Edge, he developed a first generation of automatic demandresponse technology for large commercial buildings.
During the last decade Anno has been a major contributor and leader in a number of critical standards efforts that have transformed building automation systems including BACnet, LON, and OBIX.  He is a widely recognized industry expert and sought after speaker at building automation and smart grid conferences and holds a US Patent on a distributed-architecture building controller.

Enterprise Energy Applications for Smart Grid

There has been a lot of discussion about the intersection between Smart Grid and Smart Buildings, where is this market right now?

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Sinclair:  There has been a lot of discussion about the intersection between Smart Grid and Smart Buildings, where is this market right now?

ScholtenIn the past five years there have been many new and interesting enterprise energy applications developed for the Smart Grid market.  The list of applications is quite extensive:

Automatic Demand Response, Dynamic Pricing, Demand Charge Management, Energy Efficiency Analytics, Baseline Analytics, Benchmark Analytics, Energy Verification, Enterprise Energy Management, Energy Forecasting, Performance Analysis, Carbon Analysis, Energy Dashboards, Distributed Generation Management, Energy Bill Reconciliation, Tenant Billing, Energy Purchase Analysis, Energy Kiosks

Even more interesting is that the companies who have developed many of these new applications have had very little to do with the Smart Building market. These companies include large, successful companies like energy utilities, enterprise software manufacturers, energy services companies and network infrastructure companies. 

Of course, many of these companies are realizing just how much of the data that they need to make their application successful is locked up in the multiple systems typically found in buildings.  And the list of building systems is also extensive:

Smart Meters, Sub metering, Building Automation, Energy Management, Facility Management, PLC Systems, Smart Thermostats, IT Systems, HVAC Systems, Lighting Systems, Plug Loads, Occupancy Systems, Distributed Generators, Solar Systems, Wind Systems, Co-Gen Systems, Distribution Systems

The challenge for these new application manufacturers is connecting their Smart Grid systems to these building systems.

Sinclair:  What are the issues that these new Smart Grid players need solve to connect to Smart Buildings?

Scholten I find that Smart Grid to Smart Building connectivity really falls into three areas:

1.    Technology.  What is the hardware, software and network components required to physically interconnect these systems necessary to pull energy data from buildings and pass it to the grid systems and vice versa. 

Smart Grid data standards and protocols have not been available for very long and many are still in development.  Conversely, buildings have multiple unique systems that have dated protocols and technologies.  Several Smart Grid companies are frustrated with the lack of standard protocols like BACnet and LON actually installed in their customers buildings.  Even with standard building protocols, another challenge is the non-standard programming and configuration processes that each of the building systems employ. 

2.    Deployment.  Who has the skill sets to install, test and maintain these connectivity components (hardware, software and network).  This requires a channel with a multi-discipline knowledge of building systems, IT, security and grid technologies.  This also requires training, support and maintenance of the new technologies that the energy software manufacturers are introducing to the market.

3.    Partners.   Which other enterprise energy application provider should they partner with?  Several of these companies are currently offering point solutions such as demand response, energy analytics, energy efficiency, carbon accounting, etc.  But building owners want a single integrated dashboard that lets them choose from a portfolio of options.  How do these energy application providers choose which strategic partners suit their business model better than others?

Energy technology companies that solve these will definitely expedite the delivery of their products to market.

Sinclair:  How are they doing that?

Scholten Smart Building manufacturers are acquiring some of them.  JCI acquired, EnergyConnect, a demand response solution; Honeywell acquired Akuacom, an OpenADR software manufacturer; Siemens acquired Site Controls, an ADR and energy analytics supplier to name just a few.  And who knows best on how to connect to their own systems than the building systems manufacturers themselves?

However, buildings have multiple building system technologies installed and energy software manufacturers need to be able to connect to these multiple systems.  This is something I help them solve. 

My company, Connexx Energy, also helps Smart Grid companies build their connectivity technology, train their deployment channel and help them find strategic energy partners.

Sinclair:  How did Connexx Energy come about?

Scholten Connexx Energy is a joint effort between Lynxspring, Inc and myself.  Lynxspring has been very successful in developing, deploying and supporting building automation products based on Tridium’s Niagara platform.  They have an extensive history of building connectivity solutions for the BAS market and have several OEM partners like Trane, Diebold and Greenheck. 

I had been working with Lynxspring over the last two years designing and building connectivity solutions for large energy companies like Constellation Energy where we built their VirtuWatt Energy Manager product, an Automatic Demand Response solution.  It became clear to us that there were many such energy companies looking for similar connectivity solutions and we formed Connexx Energy to specifically focus on them.

Sinclair:  How has it been going?

Scholten We launched Connexx Energy on July 1st of this year and have since begun development for three large energy solutions companies that need a connectivity component to expand their market presence.  We have also made available an OpenADR product for the Niagara platform.

Sinclair:  How will this change the BAS market?

Scholten I find that building owners and managers are heavily embracing the new energy solutions.  As they connect these applications to their building systems, they are beginning to realize that not only do they have a lot more information on the energy usage of their buildings but they also have a new way of operating their buildings.  By looking at building energy baselines and normalized energy profiles, they find they are better equipped to respond to building issues that matter rather than the multitude of BAS alarms and graphics.  Operating a building from an energy perspective provides them with a lot more value.   Also, energy managers can participate in load curtailments by shedding power.  This is new revenue generation most building owners don’t know about.  We have always had the means to save them energy, hence saving them money; now we can help them make money.  This is something Connexx Energy does for building owners.

I think that as more integrated energy solutions become available, building operators will change their daily operations from using the BAS system to using the energy system.


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