Do Intelligent Buildings Impact The Smart Grid, or is it the Other Way Around?

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We are all aware of the aging power grid and the increasing demand of energy we have today. We don’t have to look too far for proof during these hot summer months when increased demand to cool our buildings and homes causes blackouts due to the strain on the power grid. The aging power grid and increased demand are major factors in the need for a better grid…a smarter grid. As we start to move in the direction of a better, smarter grid, an interesting outcome is the positive impact a smart grid has on a building.

Recently, Schneider Electric participated in a study by the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) called “Smart Grid Impact on Intelligent Buildings.” The purpose of this study was to investigate and asses the impact of the smart grid on commercial buildings. For me, the title of the study was interesting. I’ve always felt intelligent buildings are what positively impact the smart grid. But, after attending the recent CoR Advisors webinar that presented the CABA study’s findings, I started to see this from a different viewpoint. It is because of our dependence on the power grid and the need to turn it into a smart grid that affects the way our buildings use and manage their energy. Some of the positive impacts that are arising are increased demand for smart meters, building automation systems, and controls that aid in the better understanding and management of energy within a building. Ultimately, this transforms a conventional building into an “intelligent building” that will eventually have two way communication with the smart grid. Once buildings are integrated with the smart grid, we can start to see the increase in demand response programs, as well as a movement towards net-zero energy buildings. And although the study points out that adoption of net-zero energy buildings has not fully caught on, there is an understanding that the future will move in this direction.

The highlight of the webinar was a case study of the Earth Rangers Centre (also included in the CABA study). This was presented by Andy Schonberger, Director, Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology. Schneider Electric and Earth Rangers have partnered together to create an advanced green building that showcases cutting edge building technology to reduce their energy use and environmental impact. Andy highlighted several Schneider Electric products (smart meters, EV car charging stations, Continuum BMS system, etc.,) they utilize at Earth Rangers and showed a demo of how the StruxureWare Energy Operations software gives him visibility to real-time information that helps him make decisions on how to be more energy efficient. Because of these Schneider Electric solutions and the efforts by Andy and his team, Earth Rangers realized a year-over-year energy reduction of 20%, is 90% more efficient than energy code model, and had a GHG savings of 444.2 tons of CO2. Earth Rangers Centre is a certified LEED Gold for New Construction building and currently waiting to be awarded LEED Platinum certification.

What is evident is that the need for intelligent buildings is becoming more important each year, especially because of the demand for a smart grid. To see the Schneider Electric solutions in use at Earth Rangers Centre, at any one of our current net-zero energy building projects, or in the many other daily projects we are involved in shows how committed Schneider Electric is to creating green, intelligent buildings that will ultimately reduce demand on the power grid, while reducing environmental impacts.

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