Integrating commercial buildings, utilities with the Smart Grid

Knowing where and how much power is needed allows the Smart Grid to adjust power distribution in real time. The agility of matching power demand with power production minimizes the amount of power that generating facilities must dump, and keeps base-load plants running at minimum capacity. This article explores the relationship between utilities, the Smart Grid, and commercial buildings through the consulting engineer’s eyes.
By Jack Smith, Managing Editor; and Amara Rozgus, Editor-in-Chief September 24, 2014

 Steven Collier, director, Smart Grid Strategies, Milsoft Utility Solutions, Abilene, TexasJohn Cooper, business development manager, Business Transformation Services, Siemens Power Technologies International, Schenectady, N.Y.Chris Edward, PE; electrical engineer; KJWW; IndianapolisKevin Krause, PE, LEED AP; principal; Affiliated Engineers Inc., Madison, Wis.

Meet our Smart Grid roundtable participants

  • Steven Collier, director, Smart Grid Strategies, Milsoft Utility Solutions, Abilene, Texas
  • John Cooper, business development manager, Business Transformation Services, Siemens Power Technologies International, Schenectady, N.Y.
  • Chris Edward, PE; electrical engineer; KJWW; Indianapolis
  • Kevin Krause, PE, LEED AP; principal; Affiliated Engineers Inc., Madison, Wis.

Figure 1: A sophisticated BAS at the projected LEED Platinum Gateway Building assists Oberlin College in its commitment to environmental sustainability. Courtesy: Solomon Cordwell BuenzQ: Integration of facilities’ varied electrical and mechanical systems into building automation systems (BAS) is becoming more prevalent. How is your firm meeting this need?

Chris Edward: Design for the new Gateway Building at Oberlin College in Ohio was recently completed by our Indianapolis and Quad Cities offices. This mixed-use hotel, retail, and office building is pursuing LEED Platinum. It required a highly customized BAS to be coordinated and specified (see Figure 1). A geothermal field serves radiant heating and cooling throughout the building and is assisted by automated natural ventilation and window shading. The lighting control system provides 0-10 V dc daylighting feedback and scheduling access, while power monitoring, fire alarm, and access control systems integrate with the BAS. The college provides for all buildings on campus to display energy and water performance on a Web portal to encourage efficiency by the users.

KJWW often uses the BAS as a common platform in these high-performance buildings to automate building control functions and to bring viewable information together for the owner’s benefit.

Kevin Krause: Building operations are simultaneously challenged by the increasing complexity of integrated systems and financial and human resource limitations. Systems integration and analytics are a means of doing more with less.

As a global standard-setting biomedical research center, the 300,000-sq-ft Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (WID) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison represents state-of-the-art and state-of-the-future strategies for implementing and benefiting from system-integration-based analytics.

The building technologies required to meet the unique goals of the project were necessarily advanced and often inherently complex, compared to most commercial building systems. The multifaceted nature of the architectural spaces required tailored solutions for systems, such as HVAC, lighting, life safety, access control, and scientific processes. This high degree to which systems were customized to various spaces created a demand for specific control and automation technologies. This took the form of an intelligent building architecture.

Interfaces throughout the open ground floor of the WID building draw from the systems integration architecture to document building performance and resource use, providing informational content to the general public and impacting the behavior of building occupants.

Q: How has the relationship between utilities, the Smart Grid, and commercial buildings changed in recent years, and what should engineers expect to see in the near future?

Steven Collier: Most buildings have traditionally been passive consumers of electric power and energy generated by some 7,000 utility-owned power plants, and delivered to them through high-voltage transmission lines and local distribution systems. Now, however, buildings are becoming an important component of the grid itself as they increasingly deploy their own generation, storage, and energy management systems. They are doing this for a variety of reasons including economy, reliability, security, sustainability, and independence. And, perhaps most importantly, they do it to maximize the benefits for themselves, not to help their utility solve its problems. This trend will not only continue but it will accelerate. Smart buildings will not just be served by the Smart Grid, they will become an integral part of it.

John Cooper: Traditionally, commercial buildings managed their energy largely independently of their electric utility grid, focused primarily on minimizing their electricity bill via conservation, energy efficiency, and minimizing usage during high-cost periods. Starting in the 1980s, electric utilities began to offer financial incentives to customers who would allow them to control some portion of their load to maximize operating economy and defer the need to build expensive new generators. Over the past decade, utilities more aggressively sought to engage customers in demand response programs wherein customers would change when they used electricity to mitigate utilities’ growing problems with grid economy, reliability, and sustainability. Commercial building owner/operators are becoming increasingly less satisfied with the economy, reliability, security, service quality, and sustainability of the legacy grid. As a result, as Steve observed, they are putting in their own energy production, storage, and management systems.

Edward: We’re approaching the point where commercial buildings are starting to have a need to communicate directly with the utility grid. Utility companies have been using Smart Grid technologies to modernize their systems and provide greater reliability, often with the use of grants or agreements with their local regulators. We are still moving toward a system of dynamic or real-time pricing where utilities and independent system operators will see the benefit of charging consumers based on the actual cost of generation throughout the day. When commercial buildings start seeing a high cost of energy at peak usage times, there will be an incentive for two-way communication with Smart Grids to avoid high costs, and the relationship with the utility will change. The trend toward this type of relationship has started in some parts of the country and will likely expand as energy codes and state regulators adopt related requirements.

Krause: The two primary drivers for all concerned parties to embrace with respect to Smart Grid implementation relate directly to improved distribution system reliability and enhanced power delivery efficiency. The improved electrical reliability is derived from the significantly improved communication directly from consumer meters that can alert utilities of outages, low voltage, and poor power quality on an individual consumer basis. Such system anomalies can readily be identified and isolated via utility supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, thus limiting the overall outage exposure to the rest of the distribution system. As the digital metering equipment continues to evolve along with the communication systems, overall improved system stability and reliability will result.

The system efficiency essentially is related to demand-side controls implemented within the consumer’s own facilities. Smart Grids allow consumers to monitor their own demand levels and establish internal controls to diminish their own demand and energy consumption. Whether it is time-of-day automated controls or the education of employees regarding manual switching of electrical loads, the consumer has the impetus to institute these policies and obtain the subsequent economic benefit. The utilities realize improved load factors, which allow existing distribution systems to operate more efficiently and preclude the need to increase capital expenditures by not requiring more power generation or more transmission lines and their associated substations.

These two elements are key to the success of the Smart Grid concept and can be realized almost immediately with the benefits being shared by the consumer and the utility alike.

Q: How are BAS being impacted by the Smart Grid developments?

Collier: Perhaps the better question is how are BAS impacting Smart Grid developments? I think that in many ways, the entire Smart Grid discussion has the cart before the horse, so to speak. The electric utility industry in general thinks of Smart Grid measures primarily as a way of preserving and prolonging the legacy grid. They think of customer engagement as being important primarily so that customers will reduce their demands on an increasingly frail legacy grid. Meanwhile, technology (energy, electronics, telecommunications, and information) is making it possible for customers and an ever-growing industry of nonutility providers (dis-intermediaries) to simply leap-frog the legacy grid to an entirely new model.

Customers will always act in their own best interests. They are not going to be interested in developing expertise, exerting effort, or incurring expense for the benefit of their electric utility.

Cooper: Commercial buildings enjoy steadily expanding options not available historically, well beyond what traditional building management systems—even emerging BAS—typically provide. These include on-site power production and storage, selling power back to the grid, multiple-site resource dispatch optimization, and sophisticated energy management systems. In fact, as technologies continue to improve and emerge, and these trends progress over the next few years, commercial buildings will have the potential to use BAS integrated with distributed energy resources (DER), such as on-site generators, fuel cells, or solar/photovoltaic, to become “prosumers,” producing as well as consuming energy, not to mention their ability to store either thermal energy, or electricity in batteries.

With this newfound capacity, we can begin to speak of buildings, like the grid, as evolving to become smart buildings, with a wide range of power options, from net zero (operating independently of the grid, as a building microgrid or a nanogrid) to power positive (acting as distributed power plants or storage units with excess production capacity) to grid integrated (coordinating energy consumption, storage, and production with grid operations). Engineers can expect microgrid control technologies to find their way into this smaller realm of integrated, independent, commercial building nanogrids. What remains to be seen is the emerging business relationship between commercial building owners and the utilities that serve them.

Q: Describe the various Smart Grid-ready solutions you’ve integrated into BAS of buildings and facilities and their challenges and opportunities.

Collier: Our software solutions are for electric utility engineering and operations, and so our customers have historically been electric utilities and their professional service providers, not retail consumers. It is interesting, however, that in recent years, as more commercial and industrial sites (and their nonutility providers) have begun to own and operate their own independent distribution systems or microgrid or nanogrid, they are beginning to purchase and use similar software.

Cooper: My company offers a complete spectrum of products, solutions, and services for the protection, automation, planning, monitoring, and diagnosis of grid infrastructure, as well as a complete suite of building management services for the commercial and industrial sectors. Our suite of Smart Grid applications integrate with smart meter infrastructures, distributed generation, and BAS solutions, thus allowing utilities and aggregators to enable Smart Grid offerings that fully leverage distributed energy resources. Siemens Building Technologies provides energy services to the commercial sector. For example, Gamma building control provides intelligent solutions and services to maximize energy efficiency and comfort in buildings. Anticipating ever-greater grid integration with commercial buildings, Siemens has developed integrated load management (ILM) technology that merges distributed energy management systems with demand response management systems to provide grid operators and building owners with visibility and dispatch capability of a wide variety of edge resources—from edge power to edge storage devices to curtailable loads.

Siemens has three companies in particular actively engaging in BAS and Smart Grid integration. PTI offers business transformation and solution engineering services based on Compass methodology, which integrates business processes, business capabilities, and aspirations with innovative technologies to guide utilities and businesses into a new, more holistic and integrated energy business model. Pace Global offers a custom portfolio of strategic and tactical services for utilities, commercial, and industrial customers, including integrated resource planning, risk-based capital allocation strategy, energy data management services, energy efficiency assessments, and strategic sourcing programs, with a growing focus on DER and microgrids. The eMeter’s EnergyIP solution is a flexible, scalable meter data management (MDM) platform that has the most large-scale, mass-market deployments in the utility industry, and has become the standard MDM solution. Also, eMeter recently released Energy Engage Mobile, its first mobile-web application that brings energy consumption information directly to the consumer’s fingertips, helping utilities connect with their customers.

Figure 2: NREL technicians work in the Energy Systems Integration Lab within ESIF. The research conducted there addresses technical readiness, performance characterization, and testing of hydrogen-based and other energy storage systems for optimal production and efficient use. Courtesy: Dennis Schroeder, NREL

Edward: Current BAS have the programming flexibility to bring in Smart Grid technologies if needed. This is a platform that will be able to expand to accommodate additional control functions to react and respond to data provided by the Smart Grid when that option becomes more widely available. A building can be set up to provide warning or automation to reduce total load as part of a demand response program or a dynamic pricing event.

Krause: An era of transformation is upon us, as nonrenewable fuels are joined by an array of newly viable energy sources including photovoltaics, geosourcing, wind power, biofuels, and hydrogen. AEI’s history of engineering efficiency into energy-intensive facilities focuses us on smarter energy use and smart buildings. Advanced integration and communication of systems via more complex and developed BAS calls for a high level of technical dexterity to wade through assessment of hard data and growing technologies of Smart Grid, energy sources, sustainability, and communication protocols.

One of AEI’s recently completed projects is the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo. NREL is the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy-efficient research, demonstration, and deployment of systems such as Smart Grids (see Figure 2). Electrical delivery infrastructures and their subsequent communications are focuses of the ESIF.

AEI planned, designed, and engineered two key parts of the ESIF to allow this development to commence: the research electrical distribution bus (REDB) and the facility SCADA system. The renewable energy sources discussed above variously produce incongruent ac and dc power. The REDB functions as the ultimate power integration circuit to support further industry development of uniform conversion, metering, safeties, and system communications.

This is where BAS and SCADA systems play a vital role. New technologies demand robust safety systems. The ESIF SCADA system does just that and more. The system marshals safety PLCs, and central electric, water, and HVAC utilities, to name a few. AEI’s unique safety- and data-integrity-driven SCADA solution deploys hardware-independent software governing the array of function-specific control systems that comprise a smart building/Smart Grid.

Q: What trends are you seeing in Smart Grid/BAS integration?

Cooper: There are four trends that stand out in this area, each interrelated with the other.

Power purchase agreements (PPAs): Equipment vendors and service providers have begun to offer PPAs to commercial building owners, enabling them to locate on-site power production in their facilities immediately on a service basis, with no upfront capital investment.

Bypass: PPAs and disruptive decentralized energy technologies help drive a second trend: local distribution utility bypass. A logical progression of maturing distributed power systems and aggressive marketing by vendors, bypass occurs when commercial customers purchase energy solutions from new market entrants without consulting or considering their traditional utility providers. Bypass represents a significant threat to the conventional utility business and revenue model.

Nanogrids: The term “nanogrid” has entered our lexicon only recently, and the term remains ill-defined. For our purposes, let’s consider a nanogrid to be a building-based microgrid. When a BAS is integrated with multiple on-site power systems to significantly reduce dependence on the grid, commercial building energy options expand to include the potential for islanding: operating independently of the grid.

Complete demand response (DR): Nanogrids may develop into what could be called complete DR: the ability for buildings to significantly curtail grid consumption on demand, enabling constant wide swings in energy demand from the grid, from slight declines up to full islanding. As it develops, this trend will require new attitudes and thinking about the potential of demand-side activity.

As Siemens’ ILM is implemented, it will enable newly capable local distribution utilities to embrace decentralized technologies and maturing consumer attitudes to stay ahead of the trends mentioned above. Instead of viewing new technologies as disruptive, to be controlled and managed as a threat to the status quo, a utility with an ILM will be able to embrace an array of new technologies that bring added value to consumers, certain of their ability to manage the disruptions to grid operations that accompany new technologies. Commercial buildings will enjoy a robust market of new energy services from a growing number of providers, with integration to utility operations becoming standard. ILM enables an acceleration of the convergence of Smart Grid and BAS by enabling greater flexibility and control while preserving core aspects of the utility business model.

Figure 3: This graph shows the U.S. electricity meter installed base for communicating and noncommunicating starting in 2012 and projected through 2020. Courtesy: iHS

Collier: I agree with John about off-the-grid buildings emerging, grid-connected buildings operating their own microgrid, and buildings isolating parts of their energy systems into independent nanogrids. I am also seeing nonutilities (e.g., Enernoc) aggregating commercial and industrial (even residential) buildings for participation in transactive energy markets. An aggregator with access to a competitive retail market can sell aggregated generation (and storage), as well as the ability to reduce demand and energy consumption based on aggregating loads (i.e., a virtual power plant).

Edward: The trend is that both Smart Grid and building automation technologies are becoming more sophisticated and closer to being able to communicate with each other in a straightforward way. Utilities across the country have been installing a large amount of smart meters capable of being the link between the power company and consumer (see Figure 3). Attention has been given by manufacturers of appliances to developing smart refrigerators, ovens, etc., that can respond to smart meter data, but this type of integration has been very limited in practice. When the installation of smart metering is more uniform, I expect that integration with BAS will become much more common.

Krause: While a significant amount of development of renewable energy sources, efficient end-use appliances, and other Smart Grid components (e.g., submetering) has been completed, a common communication model tying it all together is necessary for the success of the Smart Grid. This model must allow for the reliable, secure, and accurate information exchange between these technologies and the control systems of utilities and other electrical service providers. An understanding of sources and loads and how they interact is critical to fostering communications between them.

The most common types of building loads, of course, include lighting and HVAC. Yet in today’s world of emerging energy sources and loads encompassing wind, solar, and electrical vehicles, the landscape of the energy grid, and the very concept and framework of the Smart Grid, continue to evolve. Many of these new loads actually represent both a sink and a source of electrical energy. This presents both demand control issues and safety issues for the operation of the electrical grid in terms of what the industry is accustomed to, where power flow has typically been a one-way street. Thus is the need for further standardization of measurement and control.

To respond fully and most effectively to the need for more sophisticated demand and supply monitoring and control, certain aspects of electrical energy management must be addressed. Increased monitoring and reporting of actual demands and behaviors of the end users, as well as further educating the end users on the amount and pattern of their electrical usage, is essential. Without this knowledge, electrical energy suppliers delivering to the grid are at a marked disadvantage to meet demand or adjust to greater fluctuations in demand due to optimized facility operations or the variable nature of many of the distributed renewable energy sources being interconnected. With a more sophisticated Smart Grid, concurrent data across users and generators will allow for additional demand control, adjustment, or curtailment, with the goal of changing behaviors of the end consumer.

Q: What codes/standards are applicable to Smart Grid/BAS integration?

Collier: Standards are the single greatest challenge to realizing—much less maximizing—the benefits of the Smart Grid and smart buildings. In general, there is little or no integration or interoperability between and among competing vendors of utility Smart Grid or commercial smart buildings. Sometimes there’s not even integration or interoperability between and among different product lines or vintages of products from the same vendor. This will change, though, because it is so crucially important to our quality of life, productivity of business, and national security. We will eventually see what has been called 3D integration: every device, every application, and every communications system will seamlessly integrate and interoperate with every other one—seamlessly, out of the box, mix-and-match. Just like every consumer appliance works everywhere on the electric grid. Just like every connectible devices works everywhere on any Wi-Fi network. Just like Skype works on every device that can access the Internet. I firmly believe that this will be accomplished by the convergence of the Smart Grid and smart buildings with the Internet of Things.

Cooper: The OpenADR (IEC/PAS 62746-10-1) standard is increasingly evident for integrating with BAS, gateway devices, and more recently, cloud-based services that provide remote control of commercial, industrial, and residential controllers/devices. The ILM technology is designed to accommodate any devices in compliance with OpenADR 2.0. We also support IEC 60870-5-104 for generic load control, MultiSpeak for load control through advanced metering infrastructure headends, as well as an extensible adapter architecture. IEC 61850 specifies substation automation and will provide guidance on the link between edge devices and the substation. The worldwide KNX standard is used by more than 250 manufacturers of products that optimize the control of lighting, shading, heating, and cooling in rooms and buildings. Siemens Gamma building control KNX complies with EN 50090, and ISO/IEC 14543 for intelligent building networks.

Edward: California’s 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards create the broadest requirements in the U.S. for smart metering and demand response. The code describes an energy management control system (EMCS) that, at a minimum, must be able to automatically reduce lighting power by 15%, and centrally shed HVAC load based on a demand response signal from the utility. The EMCS is a separate category of BAS that has the purpose of selectively reducing building power demands. This equipment and software can be stand-alone or part of an overall BAS. It can be expected that other states with highly loaded grids will eventually follow with similar requirements.

Krause: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), ASHRAE, and Electric Power Research Institute have been developing standards for interoperability of Smart Grid technology. Their charge to date essentially is to establish communication guidelines so that various electrical devices can talk to one another and afford information regarding not only on or off status and loading, but also control.

A specific example being developed to establish a common basis for electrical energy providers and consumers to manage and communicate about electrical energy consumption and forecasts is Standard 201P: Facility Smart Grid Information Model, which is jointly being developed by ASHRAE and NEMA. The model will facilitate integration of objects and actions within the electrical infrastructure, such as on-site generation, demand response, load control, load shedding, submetering, load prediction, and energy storage. Ultimately, Standard 201P will promote the effectiveness of smart facilities, supporting optimal functionality of a national Smart Grid. The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, a private/public partnership originally established by NIST, is acting in an advisory role in the development of the standard.

Q: Have you seen the demand for integrating BAS and the Smart Grid increase?

Cooper: This connection has tremendous potential, but commercial building owners and utilities are only beginning to take advantage of available synergies. For example, the OpenADR standard has achieved widespread adoption by DR and related equipment vendors, but utility adoption has been somewhat lagging until very recently. For such demand to increase, the two worlds of building automation and grid operations must find new ways to come together, and much more frequently. Utilities need to design to incorporate the new capabilities, emerging needs, and independent attitudes of commercial building owners and managers, and the commercial sector and BAS vendors need to anticipate being ever more connected and integrated with grid operations.

Transforming to this new paradigm will not come easily. Utilities will need to expand their horizons to accept and implement new business models that are more open and interactive with third parties. Building owners and managers will need to imagine a new role in energy beyond simple consumption and conservation. The days of stand-alone systems—whether for grids or buildings—are numbered.

Edward: The demand for integration in the Midwestern part of the country has been limited for the most part. BAS design has become increasingly complex due to energy code and LEED certification requirements, but there are currently no regional requirements or great incentives for communicating with a Smart Grid.

Krause: Yes. The past decade has seen dramatic advances in automation systems and smart devices. With today’s IP-connected systems employing a variety of standard protocols and Web services, it is now relatively simple to access and accumulate data produced by devices in buildings. As a consequence, the amount of available data per building has grown, and with it, in many cases, the number of buildings that have to be managed.

The challenge facing today’s overburdened managers and operations staffs is information prioritization. The ideal targeted by today’s systems integration professionals is to execute this prioritization with little to no hands-on effort, and devising software to scan equipment systems’ patterns for variations and faults.

The industry’s acceptance of measurement and verification (M&V) has been an important step toward highlighting the value of enhancing the quality of data provided to building managers. Harnessing the processing power of today’s BAS platforms to capture data, typical M&V installations can provide trends and reporting to operations staff. However, due in part to their lack of true analytics, many M&V systems are relegated to providing basic, high-level information about energy performance on building dashboards. Building managers are increasingly turning to open source systems integration platforms to manage their operations. These platforms, built from the best available control and automation technologies, can easily provide data and information required for M&V functionality, and deploy a suite of analytics applications that can identify items requiring attention in real time.

Q: What tax incentives, rebates, or other incentives should engineers know about (to pass on to their building owner clients)? What resources are available to engineers?

Collier: Tax incentives, grants, and other government incentives vary from state to state, from industry to industry, and from time to time. Organizations with expertise in these areas include Continental Automated Buildings Association and Institute for Building Efficiency.

Cooper: The OpenADR Group and the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel are two great resources for engineers interested in this new area of convergence.

Edward: Incentives and rebates will be available from the local utility company for several activities. Some provide a yearly payment for being part of a DR program. In the case that this is an automated function, the communication between utility and BAS may play a role. Resources available to engineers include the local energy codes and utility company guidance. Trends on upcoming regulations can typically be found on the DOE Website.

Krause: The first place to investigate incentives for a given state is the DOE Website DSIRE: Database of State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiencies. This website is very comprehensive with the most current incentives offered by not only a given state, but also local municipality utilities located therein.

Q: How will the Smart Grid challenge electrical engineering design/specification now and in the future

Collier: I think that the passing of the legacy grid means that architects, engineers, and operators will have to fundamentally change how they think about building design. Legacy grid service is going to be increasingly expensive, decreasingly reliable, and marginally sustainable. This means building design where the utility connection is less a baseline and more just one of many options for a customized, comprehensive, and integrated approach to power.

Cooper: Buildings and appliances must gain the same smart functionality as the grid so they can mature in tandem and ensure optimal integrated system operations based on management of complex scenarios at the core and edge of the energy network. The term “co-optimization” attempts to capture this concept of mutual progress. We must begin to look at buildings and the devices they contain more as network elements that have been added to the grid, rather than stand-alone devices in much the same way we saw PCs and telephones treated in IT and telecom over the past 20 years.

As the Smart Grid matures and becomes the dominant paradigm for electricity system operations, electrical engineering design specs must incorporate three fundamental capabilities: first, the ability to gather and store operational and/or sensory data; second, the ability to communicate those data back to a local or remote management device; and third, the ability to receive control messages remotely. Finally, an emerging capability is to make independent decisions out at the edge, based on preprogrammed algorithms and policies. In short, design specs must set devices and BAS on the path to becoming smart, just like the grid.

Specifically, the primary challenges related to Smart Grid and smart buildings going forward are three-fold: first, to ensure that a standards-based energy management system becomes a central component of BAS; second, that electrical loads inside buildings are able to provide controllable load flexibility; and third, that on-site energy production facilities provide similar dispatch flexibility and the ability in the event of an emergency to disconnect from the grid at the owner’s discretion, or to override device operations with remote control. A great example of load flexibility is the LED: unlike many other more conventional lighting solutions, dimmable LEDs provide incredible operational flexibility via the management of light levels. Similarly, HVAC systems with VFDs offer greater opportunity for fine-tuned load control.

Edward: The role of a consulting engineer is not only to provide value-directed design, but to be an owner’s resource for keeping up with codes and design trends. Smart Grid technologies are likely to increase the significance of energy code updates and will provide a new set of options for electrical engineers to consider and to coordinate with other members of the design team.

Krause: For those who design and specify systems for construction of facilities and energy systems, increased control and monitoring of energy performance by BAS or SCADA systems will allow for easier grid integration of a given facility with itself, with the neighboring consumer, and with the neighboring distributed energy source or the remote energy producer on the grid. With improved communication among these, the generation and consumption of the energy can be reliable, safe, economical, better forecasted, and adjusted. To do this, continued development of products and control systems will be necessary and project specifications will need to be enhanced to include these technologies.

In addition to the requirement of more sophisticated measurement devices, communication, and controls to be included in project specifications, the engineer today must help clients accommodate the various funding sources that are available specific to a given project location. Also, each state has independent regulatory authorities, varying utilities, and different avenues for implementation of Smart Grids that must be understood and vetted early on in a project to determine what is viable and feasible for a given facility, distributed energy network, or available utility grid.

Q: How much information is the engineering community requesting regarding BAS, Smart Grid, and/or the integration thereof?

Edward: With a BAS being installed with most projects, there is a constant need to become more familiar with the capabilities of these systems. Feedback is becoming more available from owners who choose to perform detailed commissioning. This, along with the ability to successfully increase the complexity of these systems based on support from manufacturing companies, provides the engineering community the opportunity to provide greater value and control to building owners.

Krause: The level of information available and the dialog within the industry around Smart Grid, BAS, and integration has increased tenfold over the past couple of years. Via technical journals, conferences, and peer-to-peer interaction, design professionals in the building design, construction, and facilities management arena are seeking additional information and technologies to further advance building design and operating efficiencies, largely driven by the desire for energy reduction, cost incentives, and an improved environment for facility occupants.

Want this article on your website? Click here to sign up for a free account in ContentStream® and make that happen.