Enhanced Automation (EA) increases the capability of your existing energy management or energy billing systems to better manage both the energy use in buildings and the comfort of the building occupants.
Enhanced automation can be accomplished through the installation of control or monitoring EA technologies or simply reprogramming and/or fine tuning your existing equipment control systems. EA systems can manage a variety of building systems, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, and other systems such as security and building access.
Automation enhancements include adding a new Energy Information System (EIS) or Energy Management System (EMS), as well as re-programming or expanding the network of sensors and control devices on an existing EMS.
If you answered “NO” to any of the above questions, your business can benefit from enhanced automation.
EA helps businesses lower energy costs and improve building operations by improving the efficiency, comfort, and control of buildings. Often, the coincidental benefits of EA exceed energy-related cost savings. Potential benefits from EA include:
Improved building system automation techniques can provide important information on energy demand, equipment usage, and costs. In addition, EA can enable businesses to receive and respond to energy price signals from their utility, helping businesses more effectively manage energy costs and participate in demand-responsive and peak-load reduction programs.
EA provides additional flexibility in maintaining the optimal building climate and pinpointing problem areas. EA also allows more efficient control of building operations from central or remote locations.
This allows building operators to be more responsive to occupants’ and management’s needs, while reducing occupant complaints that result in lost productivity, cancelled leases due to tenant discomfort, and sales losses due to customer discomfort.
Additionally, EA investments now can provide long-term benefits including the ability to identify new opportunities for energy saving projects and to better forecast and manage energy costs. Finally, reducing energy demand in supply-constrained markets helps society as a whole through improved reliability and lower, more stable energy prices.
Almost any medium- to large-sized business can benefit from enhanced automation. There are many opportunities for facilities in aggregate of 200kW or more to implement EA technologies and systems. EA is particularly cost effective at sites over 1 MW due to the economies of scale.
EA technologies present a wide range of options in terms of cost, level of sophistication, and ability to control energy use. The returns depend on a facility’s current level of automation as well as available EA upgrades to address EA project goals.
In its simplest form, automation consists of a programmable time-clock for HVAC and lighting systems. Enhanced automation includes complex networks of sensors and controls for multiple building energy systems. Often EA can be accomplished by simply reprogramming existing systems to maximize their potential. A comprehensive EA system centralizes control and monitoring of all components within an energy management system (EMS) or an energy information system (EIS) that can also be accessed remotely for building operation control. Integrated systems can receive and automatically respond to energy price signals as well.
The figure below shows the individual components of a comprehensive EA system with a combined EMS/EIS. Individual system components can be implemented independently or in a staged, modular approach. Each additional component utilized in building controls offers increased economic and control benefits. EMS and EIS systems can be integrated, overlap, or be kept as separate systems that communicate with each other and the monitoring and control points in the building. Other building functions can be incorporated into an EMS/EIS system including: security/access, elevator and escalator operation, water usage, and major plug loads (such as computers).
EIS technologies are designed to provide building information on system-wide performance and energy use. They also enable participation in demand-responsive programs, including load-scheduled, demand-shifted or curtailment-based programs. In many cases, the EIS can provide cost and energy savings expected from program participation at different levels. EIS technologies disseminate information in three levels:
Notification-based systems gather information from the utility meter and signals from external sources. External signals include real-time pricing, electric supply alerts, demand response events, and other information, such as weather forecasts. Notification systems also allow for limited two-way communication, such as accepting a demand response request or providing a bid for demand reduction.
Analysis-based systems provide services, such as data analysis of energy usage and cost, forecasting, and bill consolidation. As with notification-based systems, these systems can provide either periodic or real-time data as needed.
Response systems include the functions of analysis-based systems and typically integrate one or more EMS with two-way communication. The response relies on the information received from outside signals. The EMS then adjust load through operator-driven or automated programming.
EMS technologies incorporate a wide range of services. EMS are information and control systems that, through a series of sensors, communications, and controllers, allow a building operator to optimize operation of end-use equipment within their facility, often from a centralized operations panel. Direct digital control (DDC) is the most common EMS technology currently being installed. DDC systems consist of microprocessor-based controllers networked to devices that monitor (sense information) or control operations of facility systems and equipment.
Lighting technologies include lighting control and monitoring strategies. These technologies can operate independently or be linked to an EMS/EIS system. Examples include: on/off and reduced lighting controls such bi-level lighting, dimming controls, and occupancy sensors, as well as centralized control strategies that can be programmed into the EMS.
HVAC technologies are automated through control and monitoring strategies usually connected to an EMS. If connected to an EIS, the EMS can automatically adjust the HVAC system to respond to price signals received from the utility. Similar to lighting, these technologies can also operate independently. HVAC technologies include measures for ventilation, temperature control, time control, chillers, thermal storage and air distribution.