Engineered Systems Magazine

Beyond Demand Response

August 10, 2007

For a decade, the DOE and other agencies have provided help, guidance, and standards to make buildings more energy efficient. Windows, insulation, appliances, light bulbs, etc., have been studied and clear recommendations have been issued for new construction and building retrofits. These programs have had a significant and positive impact for those who implemented the recommendations.

Yet, all of these programs and initiatives have focused only on the reduction of overall consumption, not managing the building load. The industry has been striving to make incremental gains on an ever-escalating exponential problem. We can no longer attempt to solve this problem in small, incremental steps. We need an intelligent platform to manage and optimize the building’s assets while also optimizing energy consumption in accordance with utility rates that recognize and reward this capability.

This is a very complex issue with many variables that must be managed simultaneously. Buildings must operate within the occupant’s business rules to ensure their brand is protected with a consistent and positive customer experience. Further, building operators and building controls must also manage energy consumption in accordance with complex utility rate structures.

Today, there are two new opportunities emerging that help building owners resolve this problem: demand response (DR) and, more importantly, intelligent load management (ILM).

DR

Utilities are proactively engaging customers and third-party aggregators to help provide DR. Unfortunately, although DR provides great value to the power provider, it puts the building owner at risk for very small reward. When DR is called upon, the solution asks the devices that it controls (lighting, HVAC, soda machines, pumps, etc.) to shut off. DR approaches typically shut off for a period of time and then will begin cycling at predefined intervals to keep the building operating - but not according to any defined parameters (temperature, humidity, etc.). Once a DR event is initiated, it runs to its conclusion with little or no input from the customer. Simple DR is a very risky proposition for a business owner because the entire customer experience can be compromised.

ILM

ILM is different. It operates within predefined parameters and can proactively shape building power consumption for a few hours at a time to take advantage of savings or incentives that exist within utility rates. ILM is even more powerful when aggregated with other buildings in the same utility or area. It is a revolutionary way for building operators to remotely and/or automatically manage consumption and control prices to stay within energy budgets.

One example of ILM is Site Controls’ Site-Command™, an Internet-based ILM platform that integrates all technology and communications required to centrally control major energy consumers (e.g., HVAC, lights) in dozens or hundreds of remote buildings simultaneously. ILM, through the real-time management of the facilities’ assets, can produce up to 15% savings. More importantly, the platform can remotely monitor and control the building and important business systems.

Finally, all buildings can be intelligently and seamlessly aggregated with utility programs to help control the variable and escalating prices of energy and improve profitability. GIB