Smart Grid Technology Highlighted at Intelligent Building Expo

LAS VEGAS — Cities and electrical utilities are upgrading power grids over time. This trend is leading many building operators and owners looking to upgrade their building management systems to take advantage of upgraded smart grids, improve their own energy efficiency, and avoid being punished for using old inflexible energy management solutions in a world that increasingly expects something more.

Enerliance, a software and hardware company based in Anaheim, Calif., was recently recognized at the first Smart, Connected, High Performance and Intelligent Building Conference (IBcon) in Las Vegas. Tridium, a leading provider of automation infrastructure technology and software, highlighted Enerliance’s new LOBOS product as one of the emerging products in the building management systems market.

LOBOS is a hardware and software combination that strives to provide performance gains in chiller plants and air handling units, increase efficiency, and carry out automated demand response functions.

Demand response is a new way electrical companies are using smart grids to lower peak energy use by sending out active requests for large structures to lower their energy use during specific energy spike moments. Essentially, the power companies try to look ahead on their calendars and target days and times when they believe various factors will combine to create a surge in energy use.

An example would be that the Super Bowl is approaching in a year where a city is experiencing an unseasonable heat wave. An electric company could make the judgment that the heat wave would cause people to use their air conditioners, something they normally would not do in early February. The grid operators also know that a massive amount of people will be inside watching their TVs because of the Super Bowl. The electric company would then send out messages to massive energy users, such as companies or government agencies with very large buildings, requesting that these buildings attempt to lower their energy use during that period of time. The utilities will then either reward companies that lower their energy use, punish those who do not, or pick something in between, like a sliding price scale.

This all seems relatively rare at the moment, but the more smart grid improvements become the norm, the more companies will have to prepare for this reality, or suffer the consequences. Incorporating a demand response function into building management systems will hopefully allow companies to make money off of peak energy moments, instead of losing it.

The LOBOS system, which was launched at IBcon, is now active in more than 11 million square feet of facilities, with funding assistance adding up to more than $2 million in utility incentives. The system is projected to save its current users more $1.5 million per year in energy cost reductions.