20 Jul 2011

The demand response holy grail: are your commercial facility managers ‘PROsumers’?

Written by Jim Pierobon

To hear some industry pros explain it, only about 5% of all commercial buildings in the U.S. have achieved, or are about to achieve, what Siemens considers to be the “holy grail” of energy demand response management.

This is a snapshot of an energy demand response software interface a growing number of companies are using to reduce their energy costs. Credit: U.S. Dept. of Energy

These are facilities owned by companies that are not only holistically integrating sustainability into their operations and culture but also deploying automation systems and solar and other onsite power generation sources to minimize their energy costs.

The energy and financial savings potential in the U.S. and elsewhere are significant given the rising cost of power and the need to reduce facilities’ environmental footprints. At stake is commercial buildings’ share of total U.S. energy consumption at just under 19% according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Achieving this “holy grail” means transforming the energy CONsumer into a PROsumer. As appealing as that may sound, numerous hurdles can stand in the way. Say for example a new building is completed with a LEED Platinum rating, the system’s highest standard. Does that ensure it is proactively managing its energy needs? Hardly, Ronald Greaves, Siemens’ LEEP AP Marketing Manager, said in a conversation with The Energy Fix.

“Unless there is an active program to monitor energy management systems, there will be slippage,” Greaves says. “It  almost always happens. That is why it is part of our core service offering” under an energy savings performance contract.

How should a building manage real-time pricing? Does a solar electric system on the roof make sense to offset peak daytime power purchases? Is a new industrial chiller worth the investment? Only an on-going measurement and verification system will do the job correctly, Greaves said.

Watch here how Charles O’Donnell, Director of Smart Consumption for Siemens Building Technologies and his colleagues work to turn CONsumers of energy into PROsumers. Then catch how they are in achieving “holy grail” of demand response adoption and deployment with customers. O’Donnell was a featured speaker at the recent National Town Hall meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid in Washington, DC.


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