21st Century Grid: Smart Buildings Bring Demand Side Management into the Picture, Part One

sky-pylon_small.jpg Forecasted growth in electricity demand, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the steep rise in fossil fuel prices continues to shake up and transform electric utilities and power producers in the U.S. and Europe.
Much attention is being paid to the pressing need for power generation and infrastructure investment as industry members and government agencies try to map out a pathway that leads towards a smarter, 21st century grid.
With buildings accounting for an estimated 39% of total energy demand building smarter, “energy-aware” buildings – and even more importantly retrofitting existing structures – can, and is increasingly playing a major role in the transition
Demand side management – a new wrinkle brought about with the rise of distributed power generation options, integrated, real-time facility control and networking systems, automated metering systems and feed-in tariffs for homeowners generating surplus electricity and feeding it back into the grid – has become another focal point.
Trade associations such as Lonmark International are playing a formative and pivotal role in the process, working actively, and worldwide, to foster and facilitate the transition by establishing open industry standards, such as ANSI/EIA 709 and IEEE-1473-L, and certfied electrical power management and distribution software systems, products and services. Lonmark’s executive director Ron Bernstein took time out last week to speak with Triple Pundit.

Reaching Far & Wide to Build the Greenest of All
Founded in 1994 and instituting a new corporate structure in 2003, Lonmark International counts as members more than 500 organizations worldwide spanning a wide range of manufacturers and other participants in the building automation, construction, property management, industrial, high-tech, telecommunications, transportation and utility industries.
Aiming to establish open, international, multi-vendor standards for interoperable electrical power supply and demand control and management systems and associated products the organization has certified more than 700 products spanning 69 functional profiles.
As Bernstein and Lonmark note, there are myriad, cost-effective ways to make use of smarter, more “energy-aware” materials, equipment and information and telecommunications technology to increase energy efficiency, save money and reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions.
LED lights that consume 75% less electricity and smart street lighting that pays for itself in two to five years are just two Lonmark highlights on its web site
As stated there, “Green buildings go beyond materials – and smart buildings are the greenest of all. The greenest intentions don’t necessarily achieve significant results. The term ‚Äògreen building’ has typically referred to construction materials. But real ‚Äògreenness’ goes beyond materials.
“If builders aren’t building ‚Äòsmart buildings’ to manage energy consumption more efficiently, they are overlooking the 70% of electricity usage by commercial buildings through heating, air conditioning and lighting systems which can be made more efficient.”
Lonmark’s open systems have typically demonstrated annual power cost savings to building owners and facility managers of 30%. “For some users, such as Boeing Long Beach (CA), this amounts to $1 million annually. Imagine if this technology were installed in every home, building and business across the U.S.”
Cultivating Energy Awareness & Open, Multi-Vendor Tools, Standards
Promotion, research and education are big parts of Lonmark International’s efforts on behalf of its growing roster of members. With latest internally and externally source research results in hand Bernstein and the Lonmark team this year undertook an international tour to reach out to members, other industry participants and broader audiences and spread word of the organization’s efforts to foster open, multi-vendor standards and certfied power control and management systems, equipment and services across a wide swathe of industries, including but by no means limited to building, property and construction.
“We took some numbers from the U.S. DoE – approximately 39% of total energy demand goes to buildings, and of that if you look at what the operational cost is for a facility, power usage accounts for roughly 30% of a typical industrial or commercial buildings’ operational cost…Year over year, utility companies and their customeers have come to know that the utilities are strapped for power generation capacity,” Bernstein told Triple Pundit.
“What we’re seeing is that there’s an urgent concern – they’re [utilities] are building more power plants and looking to implement control systems and improve end user efficiency [to] realize upwards of 10-30% of energy savings without jeopardizing health or liability concerns or productivity.
Grid Capacity Constraints an Urgent, Growing Concern
Utlilities are looking at how to use demand response – ADR (Automated Demand Response), Bernstein explained. “That’s a process where they [facilities managers and others responsible for energy management systems] are looking at taking a signal from the utility at particular days and times…
“We’re getting to a critical stage and asking building owners to adjust electricity usage and demand according to the needs of the overall grid…alleviating grid stress by shedding, say 5% of power. Then, they don’t have to bring on expensive reserve generating capacity. It limits risks and improves liabilities…Almost all utilities in the U.S. have these programs in place and are engaging users to sign up for these programs…
“Looking at demand as another element [is one] that previously wasn’t there…It’s a very, very big topic right now. The challenge is that utilities do this in different ways. Lonmark is helping them to define standards.”

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email: huginn.muggin@gmail.com

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