Extending Energy Management Technology to the Developing World

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So far in this series, I’ve talked about using a building energy management system, a BEMS, to make people more productive and comfortable by, for example, getting your BEMS and HVAC to cooperate (see my last post). It’s all made easier by such technologies and trends as the Internet of Things and a digital hub for buildings.

But, here’s something you may not have considered: those same trends and techniques are at work worldwide. The need for energy management is global as well. So, it’s not just the usual suspects (North America, Europe, Japan and the like) where this technology can or should be used. There’s also China, India, large parts of Africa and more where a BEMS and associated technology could be important.

How important? Well, maybe it can help save the planet.

First, let’s talk about the need. Developing countries will account for most of the population growth over the next three decades. For instance, according to U.N. projections, Africa and Asia will add 1.2 and 1 billion people, respectively, by 2050. Most of that growth will in urban areas. So, the resulting cities will be big and full of new buildings. If greenhouse gas emission reductions are to stay on target, then those new buildings going up for people to live and work in will need to be as energy efficient as possible.

And doing that will help ease the burden on the infrastructure, because heating, cooling, ventilating and lighting will take less energy and require less from power plants or if I can be so bold to say, maybe less power plants overall. Easing infrastructure demands are important, given that some 350 million people in India alone lack access to electricity. Bringing them power will strain the country’s installed capacity, particularly since the grid is already stressed.

Now, let’s talk about technologies and trends. There are signs that indicate the same trend patterns will repeat in the developing world as what occurred in mature countries, there will be a cost savings pull and a regulatory push for better building energy efficiency. China, for example, has plans in place to cut building energy consumption as much as 75% by 2020 as compared to a 1980s baseline. Other countries may follow a similar course on their own timetable and in their own way.

As for technologies, what works in the developed world can also work, with localized modifications.. What sorts of modifications? Some are basic. Electricity, for instance, is often unreliable in the developing world. So, building owners might put in their own power generation solutions or purchase insurance against power outages. For such situations, the power monitoring technology mentioned in my last post could be useful in preventing problems or in alerting building owners and managers to them. With this kind of capability you can avoid costly disruptions or equipment damage.

In the developed world, the stock of existing buildings is large; retrofitting or upgrading is essential. But with new construction, there are fewer constraints, making it easier to deploy the latest solutions.

The Navigant Research Leaderboard Report: Building Energy Management Systems says a BEMS directs “automated and/or manual improvements to system operations.” Thus, there may also be modifications in software andadjustments made to have the BEMS and control scheme fit the circumstances. To see an example of what can be done, investigate our BEMS for large and critical buildings, SmartStruxure,solution or SmartStruxure Lite for small and medium buildings.

Technology and ideas, however, are only part of what you’ll need for success in the developing and developed world. To do the best job, you need a partner with expertise and solutions, something I’ll explore more in my next post.

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