Predictive Energy Optimization: Smart Buildings for a Smart Grid – BuildingIQ


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Predictive Energy Optimization: Smart Buildings for a Smart Grid

Alberto Fonts, Product Manager
October 22, 2013

A weather system just passed by the wind farms out in the eastern hills, the turbines have been cranking all night. Not finding much demand, energy prices in the morning have plummeted. Alas, the bonanza won’t last long, as the change in weather means the wind energy production is going to taper down in the afternoon; the warmer temperatures will result in skyrocketing demand later in the day. The utility, reluctant to bring all of its peaking plants online, will declare it a peak pricing day, catching many building managers unprepared.

Building managers and property owners dread days like this. A few years ago, no one would have noticed a small ‘blip’ on the power bills. Today it is different: budgets have been tightened. Adding insult to injury, environmentally conscious tenants are asking about LEED certification, and the ever-raising bar of Energy Star ratings mean that buildings must keep reducing energy use to stay valuable. If only one had the time to monitor the BMS on days like this, or the budget to get some hours from the local controls contractor. Never mind the fact that the only engineer who understands the pneumatics that are still used across the portfolio is about to retire.

Take a step back and imagine now that your building could be aware of what is about to happen on the eastern hills. Imagine that, with no prompting or programming, it knew to be more aggressive during the overnight purge; the fans and maybe part of the plant would work harder thanks to the cheaper energy – yes, you could be participating in the whole sale market when it suited you. This way, when the prices increased later in the day, you could comfortably coast right under your peak pricing day baseline – it is nice to finally get those credits!

Imagine your building knew that on Fridays it is OK to re-set the duct static pressure a bit earlier than the rest of the days because most tenants are out by 4pm. Maybe, it also knows that a gradual decrease in the discharge air temperature is the way to avoid a morning spike on some days, but not others. Perhaps it also knows how to curtail usage in the plant and fans on one of those dreadful peak demand days. Needless to say, your tenants would never notice.

One could think that such sophistication in building management is impossible; some might think it might require expensive BMS upgrades or hundreds of consulting and contractor hours. With BuildingIQ, all you need is an Internet connection.

Welcome to the world of truly smart buildings. Welcome to the world of predictive energy optimization.