Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category

Who’ll solve the wind turbine supply crisis?

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Explosive growth in the demand for wind power has created a global waiting list for wind turbines. Chinese turbine companies may be part of the solution as they ramp up production and get ready to export.

The world’s wind power industry is struggling to cope with rocketing demand due to rising oil prices, tougher emission laws and fear of climate change. Average lead time for delivery of turbines has increased from six months a year ago to anywhere between 24 and 36 months.

From a meagre 2,000MW in 1990, global wind energy capacity grew to 59,000MW in 2005 and reached the 100,000MW mark this year. Despite this, the wind turbine industry – dominated by Vestas of Denmark, Suzlon of India, GE of US, Gamesa of Spain and Siemens and Enercon of Germany – has failed to sufficiently ramp up production. Siemens admits that new orders will not be delivered until 2012.

“It is difficult to predict exactly when the shortage will end – but by current indications, the new investments in the supply chain capacity, are likely to bear fruit in a couple of years,” says Vivek Kher, spokesman for Suzlon. “However, demand has been outstripping all projections and whether the enhanced capacities will actually stay in step with the demand is something time will tell.”

If the shortage continues, countries may be forced to review their renewable energy targets.

What’s driving demand?

Several specific factors have been boosting demand in the past few months.

The US saw a surge in new orders to take advantage of government tax credits for clean energy, which expire in December this year. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) provides the owner of a qualifying renewable energy facility annual tax credits, currently valued at 1.9 cents/KWh, based on the amount of energy generated in the first ten years. The facility must start operation before the credit expires.

Last year, the European Union set an ambitious target: 20% of EU energy from renewable sources by 2020.

In April this year, China set a massive target of expanding wind power capacity to 100,000MW by 2020, from the current 5,600MW. Previously, in 2006, China passed the Renewable Energy Law, which requires power grid companies to buy the entire output of registered renewable energy producers in their areas. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top industry planning body, sets the purchase price.

CLSA Research estimates that the US, Europe and China will be spending about $150 billion on wind projects in the next five years.

US dithers, China surges ahead

In the US, an unstable regulatory regime is one factor hindering turbine production.
Sporadic tax breaks for renewable energy projects, usually on a year-to-year basis, have discouraged US manufacturers from scaling up. Congress, for example, has stalled the extension of PTCs beyond the end of 2008.

In the past, when tax credits lapsed the demand for wind turbines came crashing down the following year. If the trend is repeated this time, it may actually result in overcapacity of turbine manufacturing in the US, at least for the domestic market.

Yet energy analysts say that if the US market slows down due to lack of tax breaks, China will more than compensate.

In the short term, massive demand from China may further tighten turbine supply, but expanding local production should ease the global crunch within a couple of years. Today, the Chinese market is dominated by the top three foreign manufacturers, Vestas, GE Wind and Gamesa, who enjoy a combined market share of 47%. However, this is set to change.

Zhang Guobao, vice president of China’s NDRC, says: “We are planning several measures to support the wind power industry including localisation of equipment production.” According to the Global Wind Energy Council (, China will become the top wind turbine manufacturer by 2009.

To encourage production, China increased tariffs on imported wind turbines in May, while slashing import taxes on components. The latter incentive, to help Chinese firms compete internationally for scarce parts, will put pressure on the industry in the rest of the world. But, again, this is a short-term problem. Government rules already require that turbines have at least 70% domestically produced components. As a result, leading manufacturers have been setting up factories in China.

As things presently stand, most Chinese manufacturers can produce only smaller turbines, up to 1MW. Chinese firms are trying to overcome this weakness by licensing agreements and joint ventures with western companies.

Goldwind, China’s largest wind turbine maker, raised $245 million through an Initial Public Offer (IPO) early this year to fund a huge expansion. LM Glassfiber of Denmark, which has a cooperation agreement with Goldwind, opened its second turbine blade factory in China in October last year.

Other major Chinese turbine makers – Sinovel, Windey, Dongfang, MingYang and HEC – are also expanding capacities and shopping for joint ventures and licensing agreements with global players.

China High, the country’s largest manufacturer of gearboxes – the most critical and complex part in a wind turbine – plans a four-fold increase in production in the next two years. The company is aiming to become one of the top three global manufacturers of gearboxes, with half of revenue coming from exports.

China High, which already supplies to GE, REpower, Nordex and Goldwind, raised $272 million through an IPO to fund massive expansion. The company is raising another $250 million through convertible bonds and plans to buy a special-steel plant to secure supplies and reduce costs. Special steel accounts for half the cost of gearboxes.

Among the foreign players, Germany’s Nordex – the fourth largest wind turbine maker in China – announced in November that it would quadruple production capacity to 800MW by 2011 to meet growing demand.

Currently, MingYang is China’s only turbine exporter. But in the next three to five years, the number of exporters is likely to grow as other firms aggressively expand and acquire technology. Foreign manufacturers may be scaling up their production in China, but in the longer term it is the emergence of Chinese turbine and component manufacturers that will probably change the global landscape of wind power.

Response from the big players

With over 8,000 parts required to make a wind turbine, requiring a large network of reliable suppliers, component supply is creating the most problematic bottleneck for turbine makers. In order to meet increasing demand, leading players are rushing to beef up their supplies by setting up new plants, signing long-term contracts with suppliers and even making acquisitions.

Vestas Wind Systems

World leader Vestas, which has manufacturing and assembling plants in Denmark, Germany, Australia, India, Italy, Scotland, England, Spain, Sweden and Norway, is on a spending spree. It has invested $2.25 billion in organic growth in the past three years.

As part of its strategy to establish manufacturing in the US, Vestas announced in May that it would build the world’s largest wind turbine tower factory in Colorado, at an estimated investment of $250 million. When fully operational in mid-2010, the facility will produce 900 towers a year.

In March, Vestas opened its first US blade manufacturing plant in Windsor, Colorado, which will be fully operational by mid-2009, with a capacity of about 1,800 40-meter wind turbines a year.

Another blade-making plant in Castilla La Mancha, Spain – where Vestas already has three facilities – is scheduled to start production this year.

Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Vestas, said in Beijing in April that the company plans to increase its capital and technology investment in China to meet growing competition from domestic players. The firm has a blade-manufacturing facility in Tianjin, which started production in 2006.

Vestas RRB, a wind energy company in India that has a technical collaboration with Vestas, raised $190 million in investment from Merrill Lynch in October last year to fund new blade-manufacturing facilities in Chennai and New Delhi.

GE Energy

GE has a worldwide installation of over 8,400 turbines, generating 11,300MW.

With $12 billion in orders, including recent orders from Mesa, Texas ($2 billion) and Invenergy Wind ($2 billion), GE’s current capacity is sold out until 2009.

The company, which has production facilities in Germany, Spain, Canada, China and the US, is now aggressively expanding capacities.

GE’s commercial partner Molded Fiber Glass Companies (MFG) started building a new blade plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota in November and aims to start production this year.

In November, GE signed an agreement with TPI Composites to build a new facility in Newton, Iowa, to produce blades for GE’s 1.5MW wind turbines. TPI has also signed a long-term supply contract with GE to make wind turbine blades in a new facility being set up in Taicang, China. Production is likely to begin this year.

GE is also planning a new facility in India to manufacture 1.5MW and 2.5MW turbines, though no time frame has been announced.

Prolec GE, a joint venture between GE Energy and electrical transformer supplier Xignux, is investing $50 million in its facility in Monterrey, Mexico to increase transformer production by 30%.

“We are working with suppliers to ramp up their capacity to ensure smooth supply of components,” says Magued El Daief, GE’s managing director in the UK.

Suzlon Energy

Based in India, the world’s fourth-largest wind turbine maker has orders worth $4.2 billion. It is aiming to double production capacity to 5,700MW by March next year, at an investment of $1.5 billion.

Over the last year, the company has raised $1.1 billion through an IPO and a Qualified Institutional Placement to fund expansion and pay for Hansen Transmission, a big Belgian maker of gearboxes it bought in 2006 for $680 million.

Hansen intends to increase its capacity from 3,800MW a year to 14,300MW over the next five years. In addition to expanding at its main facility in Lommel, Belgium, it will be building plants in Coimbatore, India, and in China.

Last year, Suzlon bought Germany’s wind turbine maker REpower for $1.9 billion.

The company’s plans in India include a new plant to make control systems and generators in Coimbatore, a wind turbine and rotor blade facility in Mangalore, a forging unit in Vadodara, and enhancing tower equipment manufacturing at its Kandla sites.

The firm also aims to double production capacity in China to 1,200MW in 2009-2010.

“China has a very ambitious target and we have a strong presence there,” says Tulsi Tanti, chairman of Suzlon.

Siemens Power Generation

German giant Siemens, which boasts 6,600 installations and a combined capacity of 6,080MW, recently disclosed that it had four year-backlog of orders for larger turbines.

It said that any new orders will not be delivered until 2012, causing a panic among the utilities companies, particularly in the UK where the government has ambitious targets for renewable energy.

Sources at Siemens say that the company plans to triple turbine production by 2011.
However, the supply crunch has not stopped the company from signing up new orders. So far this year, it has received $2.4 billion in orders from the US alone.

This includes an enormous order in May for 218 turbines of 2.3MW capacity each from FPL, the largest energy provider in the US. Supply will begin in 2009. To ensure delivery, the company is doubling the capacity of its US facility in Fort Madison, Iowa, at an investment of $35 million.

“The expansion will increase our ability to competitively serve the North American market,” said Randy Zwirn, head of Siemens Energy Americas.

Siemens has also bagged another big-ticket order, worth $1.2 billion, in the UK from Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds, which is building the world’s largest off-shore wind farm 25km off the coast of Suffolk. Turbines will be delivered in 2009 and 2010.

Siemens has aggressively expanded its facilities in Denmark, investing $59 million in the past two years to keep pace with the demand.

Gamesa Wind

The Spanish company has 32 production sites in Spain, Italy, North America, Germany and Norway.

Vertically integrated, Gamesa designs and makes its own blades, root joints, gearboxes, generators, converters, towers and nacelles. It assembles wind turbines and develops wind farms itself, a capability that most of its competitors do not have.

The company has orders for over 8,000MW of installations, equivalent to its production capacity for the next two years.

In the last 18 months, Gamesa has added nine plants, including four new facilities in the US, three in China and two in Spain.

The firm is investing $80 million in manufacturing facilities and developing wind farms in China, and aims to be the largest foreign turbine maker in the country, with a 30% market share by 2010. It plans to add 1,800MW to its Chinese production capacity by next year.

In April, it signed an agreement with the US-based turbine tower maker Tower Tech Systems for supplying towers for its North American projects.

Back home in Spain, it created a joint venture last year with Grupo Daniel Alonso for manufacturing towers for wind-turbine generators. The combined entity, in which Gamesa has a 32% holding, will run four facilities in Spain.

The company is also expecting to complete a prototype of its 4.5MW turbine this year. The turbine is likely to go into production in 2010.


Germany’s Enercon has a worldwide installation of 12,500 turbines generating 14,400MW, half of this in Germany. It has production facilities in Germany, Sweden, Brazil, India, and Turkey. It is scheduled to start production in Portugal this year.

This year, the company bagged two large orders for wind power projects in Quebec for 272MW installations to be operational by 2013. The company plans to open a factory for wind power components in Quebec to support the project, at an investment of $30 million.

Enercon is forcefully implementing vertical integration at its headquarters in Aurich. Here, MTA Metalltechnologie, a group company of Enercon, started making nacelle casings, cast components and steel parts at the end of 2007. The unit will add manufacturing of generator rings this year.

The company is also ramping up capacity in Portugal. At the end of last year, its rotor blade facility in Viana do Castelo started production for the Portuguese market. Two more plants are being built nearby, to be operational later this year.

Who will be top dog?

Vestas and Suzlon are the firms most aggressively expanding their capacity and can be expected to continue their global dominance.

Vestas, which has close relations with the major power utility firms, is banking on China to achieve its target of 25% share of the world market.

This year, Suzlon became only the second vertically integrated wind power manufacturer in the world, after Gamesa. This allows it to have better control over its supplies. Suzlon also has access to cheap labor in India, huge experience in the industry, a global network of suppliers and subsidiaries, and strategic acquisitions. The company looks well placed to profit from rocketing demand.

Safety concerns

As it gets bigger, the wind power industry faces a few safety issues. Several cases have been reported of turbines collapsing.

Two Vestas turbines collapsed in Hornslet, Denmark early this year, prompting an investigation by the Danish climate minister Connie Hedegaard. Another two collapsed in the UK last November and December, sparking a joint investigation by the company and the UK Health and Safety Executive. The first incident took place in Scotland; the second in Cumbria.

Siemens was fined $10,500 for safety violations in February after a six-month probe into the collapse last August of a turbine in Sherman County in Oregon, in the US. One worker was killed.

In February this year, Edison International, a wind farm operator in the US Midwest, complained that the blades of its 144-foot-long turbines, supplied by Suzlon, had started to split at three sites. Similar problems were reported at the sites of another customer, Deere & Co. Suzlon reacted by recalling 1,251 turbine blades.

As the manufacturers pursue rapid expansion and delivery, and produce larger and taller turbines, it looks like they will also need to lift their safety standards to match.

Improve Energy (and Financial) Performance

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Evaluate opportunities for low-cost energy-efficiency improvements that can help you control costs in a down economy.

Having a plan is better than not having one!

”We’ve assisted our clients in looking across there estates portfolio, for opportunities to reduce energy consumption and have found reducing weekend hours to be one of the most cost-effective ways to accomplish this.”

”Utility incentives enable landlords to work proactively with tenants to reduce energy use in buildings with triple-net lease structures, where tenants pay their own utilities.”

In this struggling economy, controlling costs and maintaining competitiveness are paramount, and real estate companies are going back to basics. Leading commercial real estate owners and managers are leveraging energy efficiency as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce operating expenses and help tenants control costs.

A renewed focus on energy efficiency can support financial goals and maintain asset value while enhancing tenant attraction and retention. Because energy is the largest controllable operating expense for a typical commercial building, reducing energy costs has a significant positive impact on the bottom line. When implemented in a coordinated fashion, you can improve energy performance without spending capital.

Assess Building and Portfolio Energy Performance
“We find that management commitment is essential, and that a vital first step is to assess and benchmark energy performance,” .


Low-Cost Energy-Efficiency Best Practices

  • Educate tenants.
  • Adjust temperature setpoints.
  • Set back temperatures in unoccupied spaces.
  • Lock and calibrate thermostats.
  • Reduce water-heater temperatures.
  • Reduce weekend operating hours.
  • Tweak start-up/power-down times.
  • Add VFDs and VAVs.
  • Delamp.
  • Adjust and/or add lighting controls.
  • Retrofit with 25- or 28-watt T8s, CFLs, and LEDs.
  • Perform lighting sweeps.
  • Ensure that equipment is functioning as designed.
  • Reduce janitorial lighting needs.
  • Enhance preventive-maintenance activities.
  • Enhance building-envelope efficiency.
  • Leverage rebates and incentives.

A helpful benchmarking, which generates energy-performance ratings.

Portfolio benchmarking will help you compare properties to identify cost-effective opportunities. For example, immediate improvements to a lower-performing building will bring greater returns than looking to improve a higher-performing building.

Low Costs, High Returns
After assessing performance and identifying buildings to focus on, identify opportunities and implement changes that make sense for those buildings, such as …

Engaging Tenants. “Tenants control a large portion of your building’s energy consumption, so taking the time to engage them in energy-efficiency efforts right away can really pay off in terms of the building’s operating budget and tenants’ utility costs,”. Start by leveraging a campaign to show tenants how to reduce energy consumption immediately. Provide e-newsletters, pamphlets, and signage, and communicate in person to encourage tenants to take simple actions toward greater energy efficiency.

Operations and Maintenance. Operations staff should regularly walk through buildings, inspecting equipment to ensure that it’s functioning as intended, and checking all control equipment for proper programming. An engineer told can find annual energy-cost savings with no or little investment.

If you’re willing to invest money, take this process to the next level via retro-commissioning or recommissioning. According to the US ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Manual, commissioning projects for existing buildings have a median cost of $0.27 per square foot, but result in whole-building energy savings of 15 percent, with a simple payback of less than a year.

Janitorial activities typically account for almost one-quarter of a commercial building’s lighting usage. Opportunities to reduce that amount include team cleaning, where staff cleans one floor at a time, and lighting is turned on and off as janitors progress through the building. You can also engage janitors and security staff to turn off lights that were left on by tenants. If tenants are amenable, experiment with cleaning during the day when the lights are already on.

A comprehensive preventive-maintenance program establishes appropriate levels of maintenance to be performed at scheduled intervals. The time investment may be substantial, but the returns will also be large – and with a low upfront dollar investment.

Lighting. In some locations, lighting levels may be too high and can be lowered by delamping and disconnecting unused ballasts. Delamping may be accompanied by adding reflectors and new lenses to the fixtures, enabling the fixture to more effectively distribute light. One property reports that it reduced energy costs by more than $100,000 annually just by delamping.

Periodically check occupancy sensors and photocells; re-examine lighting controls to identify new opportunities. For example, reduce the minutes of inactivity after which motion sensors are programmed to shut lights off, or program parking-garage lights by zone to reduce the amount of lighting on at night.

Consider adding new lighting controls where possible. You may be able to install additional occupancy sensors in restrooms, supply closets, mechanical rooms, elevator cabs, and private offices; case studies from ENERGY STAR show that these devices pay for themselves in less than 2 years. Photosensors and dimmable ballasts can be installed indoors near windows, as well as on exterior lights, to take advantage of available daylight.

Another low-cost opportunity is a full-floor lighting sweep – adjust building lights so they’re not hardwired in the “on” position and can be turned off during EMS-programmed lighting sweeps. Also, periodically drive past the building at night to ensure that the programmed sweep is actually taking place, and that all non-emergency lights are included.

Perform a lighting survey to locate any remaining incandescent bulbs, halogens, or T12 fluorescent tubes. These inefficient lamps can be replaced with CFLs, LEDs, or 25- or 28-watt T8 fluorescents. If you’ve retrofitted with 32-watt T8 fluorescents, these are a big step up from T12s, but consider replacing them with high-lumen 25- or 28-watt tubes. Don’t overlook exit signs, accent lighting, elevator cabs, or other unique lighting applications.

Building Envelope
In many commercial buildings, air passes freely between conditioned and unconditioned spaces where pipes and ductwork penetrate walls and ceilings, underneath doors to the outside, and at dampers. Regularly check for these gaps and seal or weatherstrip them to immediately reduce heating and cooling costs. Also, consider conducting a thermal scan of the envelope to reveal more in-depth opportunities to repair air leaks or areas of thermal transmission.

Thermostats. Thermostats provide numerous opportunities to improve energy performance. Simply tweaking temperatures can reduce whole-building energy savings by 2 to 4 percent per degree by which setpoints are raised or lowered during the cooling and heating seasons. Talk with tenants to see if temperatures are comfortable, and experiment with adjusting temperatures by a few degrees.

Ensure that vacant space temperatures are set back significantly, or that HVAC equipment is turned off, if practical. Set temperatures back at night and on weekends as well – by at least 10 degrees – using your EMS or programmable thermostats, if you have them (or manually, if necessary).

In addition, limit access to thermostats located in tenant spaces, or program your EMS to allow tenants to make adjustments only within a specified range. If tenants can make frequent adjustments, energy costs will fluctuate wildly and systems will work harder. Be sure that building engineers reset temperatures to optimal setpoints each day so that tenant adjustments are only temporary (if the EMS isn’t doing this automatically).

Have operations staff compare thermostat readings with the actual space temperatures (as measured by a handheld temperature gauge). If necessary, recalibrate thermostats so their readings equal the true space temperatures. The EPA estimates that calibrating thermostats can produce whole-building energy savings of up to 3 percent.

Finally, take a closer look at the thermostat on your water heater. The EPA recommends setting water-heater temperatures to 120 degrees F. as opposed to manufacturer-set temperatures of 140 degrees F.

HVAC hours. Evaluate opportunities to reduce or eliminate unneeded HVAC and lighting by conducting a census to determine when tenants actually use the building. For example, though Saturdays may be part of their lease hours, how many tenants are really working? “Clients should look across there complete portfolio for opportunities to reduce energy consumption, accessing reducing weekend hours to be one of the most cost-effective ways to accomplish this. Working with clients to provide weekend hours upon request rather than across the board,”

There may be similar opportunities to scale back hours during the week. At the very least, ensure that, if a tenant requests after-hours air one weeknight, hours are reset to normal the next day. In addition, experiment with starting up HVAC systems later or powering them down earlier. Chances are good that you’ll be able to reduce HVAC operating hours and still maintain comfortable temperatures.

VFDs and VAVs. With varying levels of demand placed on HVAC systems, motors and fans don’t necessarily need to run at full speed all the time. Variable frequency drives (VFDs) and variable air volume (VAV) devices regulate motors and fans as necessary. Some of the earlier practices will further reduce building loads, making it important to match systems with variable speed technologies. The cost of installing these devices can be recouped quickly – in as few as 2 years, by suggested case studies.

What Now?
This is by no means the entire list of opportunities for energy reductions, but they’re some of the simplest, most cost effective to implement. Even better, they’re proven to work, based on the experiences of thousands of building owners and managers.

Look for more opportunities in A Practical Guide to Energy Management: Enhancing the Bottom Line You can also explore additional options by conducting an energy audit and developing an action plan based on the results.

Further, utility incentives and rebates can make equipment upgrades and retrofits even more financially attractive, potentially moving some measures from the “expensive” category to the “low-cost” category. “Utility incentives enable landlords to work proactively with tenants to reduce energy use in buildings with triple-net lease structures, where tenants pay their own utilities. The utility often help convince tenants to pay for the retrofit in cases where the landlord may not pursue a given capital project because the benefit would flow disproportionately to the tenant.

“Strategically staging improvements is important – the early savings from low-cost measures can buy you some leverage to invest in larger improvements,”. “But, by reducing energy loads first, you may reduce the size of the new equipment you need to purchase, further reducing expenses in these tough economic times.”

You will see tangible results – a real drop in energy costs and, along with that, an increase to net operating income, asset value, and tenant attraction and retention. But, there is no true end to this process. Owning or operating an energy-efficient portfolio is a cycle of continual assessment and improvement, and requires an ongoing commitment.

Prevent 17 Common Lighting Mistakes

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Don’t underestimate the importance of an energy audit. It’s the basis for everything from evaluating the project’s financial worth to manufacturing and ordering parts.

Energy-efficient lighting retrofits offer an extraordinary chance to cut operating costs and improve lighting quality. But, along with the opportunity for improvement comes the opportunity for mistakes.

Some of the most inherent dangers in lighting projects are outlined here. If you follow the guidelines here and avoid these 17 slip-ups, you’ll be pleased with your lighting retrofit project.

1. Choosing the Wrong Team
Energy efficiency is more than the pursuit of energy savings. People are your most important and productive asset, so work-environment quality is critical. A gain in energy savings can be offset by a loss in productivity if quality isn’t part of the evaluation.

A good partner is just as much an experienced consultant as a provider of equipment and installation services. Beware of “instant experience” in energy efficiency. If you choose a quality partner, you’ll go a long way toward avoiding the 16 other costly mistakes.

2. Conflicting Chain of Command
Retrofits involve decisions with multiple objectives, and typically impact various departments. The best projects come from exchange of information among members of a project team taking direction from a project manager with the authority to negotiate from start to finish. If the final decision is made by the purchasing department without an understanding of your objectives, the system you want won’t be the system you’ll get.

3. Neglecting Frontline People
Sure, savings are important, but tenants and occupants will work in the new environment for years to come; if they don’t like it, someone’s going to hear about it. The best way to avoid complaints is to involve your associates from the start. Solicit ideas from experts and others who have completed similar projects. Keep maintenance personnel in consideration, think about replacement of wearable parts down the road, and be sure to include ease of maintenance in all specifications.

4. Calling in Experts Too Late
Before committing to a project, call in the experts. View your energy-services vendor as a partner, not just a supplier. Be sure your partner can stand behind every statement and warranty. When it comes to project management, you should expect these things from a true energy-services partner:

  • Establishment of goals for savings and facility comfort and quality.
  • Identification of project requirements.
  • A comprehensive audit (see No. 5).
  • Proposal development and opportunity to redesign.
  • Testing and evaluation.
  • Implementation.
  • Be sure you clearly outline to all prospective vendors that this is what you want, and be sure you get it.

Energy Use in Commercial Buildings: End-Use Breakdown
If you know how energy use breaks out, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to save energy in your buildings. SOURCE: EIA

5. Underestimating the Importance of an Audit
A retrofit isn’t like a new construction project – there’s no set of blueprints to start from, and usually no pressing construction schedule to keep. It’s the building audit or survey that establishes the foundation for all work to be performed. The audit is the basis for everything from evaluating the project’s financial worth to manufacturing and ordering parts.

Where can things go wrong? There’s the potential for mistakes in identifying existing equipment, its location, and the recommended replacement. There’s the potential to transpose numbers and make errors in tabulation of inventory and scheduling. At LIME Energy, factory-trained technicians use hand-held computers to identify fixtures and equipment by building, floor, room, and suite. Special codes spell out everything, including restricted access, time limitations, special working conditions, and other vital information used by project personnel. This becomes the blueprint for equipment selection, installation, verification, and billing.

6. Using the Wrong Approach
Manufacturers want you to buy their products – even if they portray them as “generic” as part of an overall installed solution. The trick is to get lighting, HVAC, motors, drives, and other energy-using equipment to work together. When you use a systems approach, you can achieve maximum savings and improve quality.

First, establish your objectives for light level, temperature, airflow, and hours of operation, and don’t assume that anything you have must stay the same. For example, most overhead lighting creates unacceptable glare on computer screens, and most desk work can be done with task lighting; a redesign of the entire lighting system may save much more energy than simply changing the existing equipment to the most efficient.

The only way you know you’re making the best choices for energy efficiency is to look at the entire building as a system.

7. Buying Based on Price
Energy-saving retrofit projects bought on price alone are usually a false economy. The few pennies saved upfront can cost thousands in lost savings, increased maintenance costs, and losses in worker productivity. Since the energy savings are paying for the project, why not choose higher quality and avoid risky situations, even if it means adding a few months to the payback?

Ask a qualified contractor to quote the steps of analyzing, designing, and installing a retrofit project, and you’ll know the fair market value for these services. Beware of the company that undercuts the going market price; it’s easy for vendors to cut price if they know how. They can:

  • Use untrained labour.
  • Substitute lower-grade material or use less material.
  • Bid unreliable or untested technology.
  • Supply discontinued products from vendors.
  • Use a commodity design instead of a custom product.
  • Cut corners on installation.
  • Skip permits.
  • Fail to pay suppliers.
  • Ignore UL requirements.

To an untrained observer, these tactics may go unnoticed, so establish criteria for product quality, and the quality of the installation work and crews, and communicate this to potential vendors before sending out for quotations.

8. No “What-If” Planning
A retrofit project impacts almost everyone, so consider the “what ifs.” It’s easy to identify and plan for anything if you take advantage of the expertise that a qualified company offers.

Take light-level readings and measure space temperatures before and after throughout your facility without telling anyone. That way, you’re prepared for the occasional troublemaker who insists that he or she can’t work because of unacceptable changes to the way things were before. Nothing resolves a dispute better than facts.

Prepare a project book that documents your work before and after. Senior management can’t help but be proud of you … the new corporate hero who saved them lots of money.

9. Not Testing Thoroughly
The greatest part of a lighting retrofit is that it lends itself to verification. Take readings before and after in the same locations, and gather information over time. Use the same metering equipment and account for cleaning, age, and sunlight location when making comparisons. Gathering information will enable you to verify the potential of a retrofit project every time.

10. Botching Up Installation
After a proposed design has been evaluated, you must develop an installation plan of action. Lacking coordination, installation can become a nightmare. Everyone needs to be informed and ready to cooperate. Communication should be in writing; otherwise, you’ll find yourself arguing with an associate or vendor about who ordered the wrong part or model. (You’ll also argue about who’s going to pay for the mistakes.)

Make sure your contractor has successfully worked in an environment similar to yours. Just as important, your vendor should be willing to provide an installation checklist that spells out every step, from security access and clean-up to special equipment needs.

11. Falling for “Bargain” Products
Ask for a warranty. Then, read between the lines. Does the warranty cover what it would take to replace a product in the event of a failure? Be sure to get a performance warranty that covers material, design, and installation.

Next, check your vendor’s financial net worth. There’s no value in a warranty if the company offering it has no assets. Taking the time to carefully evaluate technologies and vendors will pay handsome dividends in savings and improved building comfort and operations. Regardless of the price, it’s no bargain if it doesn’t work.

12. Failing to Scrutinize Proposals
Go back and look carefully at the proposals you’ve received. Check facts and figures; then, double check.

Most of the information you’ll need to make a decision is contained within the audit report: one more reason you can’t underestimate the value of the comprehensive audit and the complete, clear design proposal.

Another important point: Choosing a company without adequate financial resources can be dangerous. Invariably, there are always some adjustments to be made on a retrofit project. Your energy-services project provider must be able to absorb those costs and deliver as promised. An inability to pay suppliers, limited credit lines, or cash-flow problems can lead to delays and liens. If there are major problems, the customer becomes the natural focus for legal recourse.

13. Celebrating Too Soon
Sometimes, a retrofit test can fool you. The light-level readings you obtain today may not stay within an acceptable range over time. Depending on the lamp selected, different lumen maintenance curves apply. Over time, lamps will lose their brightness, shown on the lamp lumen depreciation curve. Also, dirt and dust accumulation must be factored into the equation. Always evaluate your proposals based on light-level readings that will be maintained over time.

14. Holding Back Too Long
There are two main reasons why companies hold back. One reason is corporate inertia. After all, the building is usually comfortable, and the lights still work; no one is complaining. With constant on-the-job pressures, who has the time for anything but today’s most urgent crisis? The other reason for delay is to wait for a new rate schedule, rebate, or technology.

But, the truth is, the savings you gain from a properly planned lighting retrofit almost always outweigh other considerations. Take advantage of energy savings now. Delaying a decision in anticipation of any future possibility means you’ll miss out on immediate savings.

15. Using “Average” Electricity Rates to Calculate Savings
While your average electricity rates can provide a quick feel for a project’s potential, actual electricity bills should be used to determine your savings. A common mistake is overlooking the rate structure that applies to your business.

Check with your utility to make sure the savings assumptions in the proposal are based on the correct rate structure.

16. Falling in Love with the Hardware
Sometimes, in the excitement of evaluating new technology, we lose sight of original objectives. For example, sophisticated control features can be appealing, but are often difficult to justify in terms of cost. You don’t want to pay for features you won’t use, or that are unnecessary.

It’s one thing to understand how technology works – what’s more important is how it’s applied.

17. Overlooking Opportunities
It’s a big mistake to believe that installing new equipment to save energy is “not in the budget.” That’s like saying you can’t afford to save money. The mere act of paying your electricity bill means there’s cash waiting to work for you.

To begin with, financial programs are available that will create positive cash flow from the start. In turn, a properly designed program virtually guarantees that your monthly savings will exceed your monthly payment.

If you’re a real estate developer or a building owner, make your space more competitive by upgrading to improved air-conditioning with better controls and better-looking light fixtures with appropriate light levels. An attractive, efficient building is one more step toward higher tenant retention.

Mistakes happen. Keep in mind that an energy-efficiency retrofit is more than the sum of component parts. These retrofit projects, by their very nature, require an educated buyer to sort through competing claims and ensure that quality and service are part of the evaluation process.

Bank of America Creates World Class Infrastructure to Remotely Manage 3,200 Branches

Friday, May 15th, 2009

In January 2008, Bank of America Corporation (BAC) launched a centralized facilities energy and maintenance management program designed to aid associate health and productivity and contribute to the corporation’s bottom line while diminishing its environmental impact. The Charlotte-based Intelligent Command & Control Center (iC3) integrates industry-leading hardware, software, analytics and intelligence to remotely monitor and control heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting and other building systems for thousands of facilities across the nation. All from a single location.

While energy management systems may not be new, their use traditionally has been reactive engagement in large facilities. iC3 uniquely addresses facilities of any size, proactively using data, innovative patented analytics and highly-skilled technicians to maximize energy efficiency and optimize equipment maintenance. Its current scope comprises 3,200 nationwide retail banking centers that utilize more than 13,000 HVAC units.

Several partnerships and strategic investments have contributed to iC3’s success. Charlotte-based Mechanical Systems and Services (MSS) is the General Contractor and Systems Integrator for the program’s nationwide deployment. Tridium provides the innovative technology platform that enables the remote monitoring, control and data efficiency. In addition, as part of the iC3 program, BAC made a strategic investment in Philadelphia-based Field Diagnostic Services, Inc. (FDSI), a small engineering firm focused on optimizing HVAC equipment performance.

With FDSI’s help, iC3 provides HVAC equipment fault detection, efficiency diagnostics and control algorithms. FDSI currently holds four patents, with two patents pending and another two in development. iC3 is driving the completion of these and other industry-leading intellectual property innovations through capital investment, intellectual collaboration, an aggressive energy-efficiency strategy and the provision of an expansive facility base as a test-bed. This innovation combined with great hardware out in the field enables the Bank to achieve the shift to predictive maintenance.

As HVAC units typically account for more than 40% of a building’s total energy consumption, the environmental and energy usage benefits of proactive monitoring and improved performance are clear: Since iC3’s inception just more than a year ago, energy (kWh) consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have decreased approximately 11%. To date, iC3 has saved more than 4,100 tons of CO2e. At full deployment, iC3 is designed to save over 2,200 tons of CO2e a month (26,850 tons per year), and by 2017 is forecasted to save more than 225,500 tons of CO2e. Overall, iC3 forecasts sustainable reductions in kWh consumption and GHG emissions of 10% to 15%. This comprises nearly half of Bank of America’s 2004 aggressive, voluntary goal of reducing GHG emissions across the company 9% by the end of this year, the EPA Climate Leaders pledge (the bank is poised to achieve that mark, with 2007 GHG emissions down 7.8% from the 2004 baseline). To put these environmental benefits in context, these energy and GHG reductions equate to powering over 800 homes for a year and the removing the GHG emissions of 11 million miles from cars.

Actual energy consumed in iC3-enabled locations has been down year over year despite utility cost inflation. When real savings and inflation avoidance are combined, iC3 is yielding a 10% to 15% benefit to the company’s bottom line in these locations, which translates to millions of dollars annually.

A final benefit of the iC3 program is minimizing non-productive or miss-categorized maintenance visits related to HVAC and lighting, which historically have accounted for a third of the reported problems that resulted in technician dispatch (or “truck roll”). Issues surrounding client “perception” (i.e. that a space is too hot or too cold when all equipment if functioning as designed) now are resolved remotely through the iC3 web-based software platform and customer interaction/education. Meanwhile, verified equipment failures can be reduced in severity from “emergency” to “planned” by remotely making appropriate adjustments to other equipment supporting the space. Optimized truck rolls cut operations costs while eliminating unnecessary driving emissions.

Consistent temperature control in associate workspace and customer-facing locations. Proactive monitoring and adjusting of remote systems. Decreased energy usage. Diminished environmental impact. iC3 is an example of how Bank of America Corporate Workplace helps distinguish the company from its competition by delivering innovative, environmentally sustainable real estate and workspace solutions.

OpenEMS – Creating Value Through Open Systems In An Energy Management Context

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Discussions of Open Systems tend to be long on technical concepts but short on concrete value propositions. I think that is partly because the term “Open” usually gets applied to systems in a technical context rather than a business context and partly because it is just easier to talk about “Open” in abstract terms. But, energy managers and facility directors can not take “abstract” to the CFO for funding nor can they take “technical” to the CEO for approval. To get Open Systems project approval from C-level executives requires that we translate Open Systems concepts into concrete value propositions. Defining OpenEMS and clarifying how it applies to particular organizations is a powerful tool for accomplishing that translation.
(Open Energy Management Systems) is a philosophy of doing business where energy-related product and service providers collaborate and interact through standards-based solutions to deliver maximum value to building owners and operators. In an OpenEMS environment, while equipment, software and services may come from different providers they interoperate quietly and efficiently in the background — allowing building owner/operators to focus on their core business.

There is typically a broad range of suppliers making up the “energy ecosystem” for an owner/operator. The owner/operator may work with utilities, mechanical service providers, alarm monitoring services, bill-pay-audit services, electrical contractors, sustainability consultants, demand-response aggregators and other energy-related product and service providers. Whether these providers are external suppliers or internal service groups, they are all part of the process of acquiring, using, controlling and managing the use of energy in a building.

One way to view an energy ecosystem is to think of it as a building owner/operators supply chain for energy. It includes all of the organizations that impact the sourcing, utilization and management of energy. Just like in manufacturing and retail supply chains, there are substantial value creation opportunities in improving the efficiency of interaction among the stakeholders in an energy ecosystem. OpenEMS is about accelerating the flow of information among those stakeholders while reducing the cost of transactions … and these can dramatically increase efficiency.

Improving the efficiency of interactions through links among business processes and information systems serving stakeholders in an energy ecosystem yields maximum owner/operator value. OpenEMS is the most cost-effective way to link these systems and share required business and technical information among the broad range players. This will result in substantial gains that flow to all of the stakeholders and benefit everyone through lower overall costs of doing business.

Who Benefits from OpenEMS?

OpenEMS offers substantial benefits to building owner/operators in a variety of operating scenarios. OpenEMS can lower costs, reduce environmental footprints and increase productivity of facility management staff. Owner/operators achieve lower costs through direct reductions in energy use, better utilization of service resources and lower exception processing costs. But owner/operators are not the only ones who benefit.

Commercial and industrial buildings account for a large fraction of the total energy used in the UK & US. There is tremendous potential for reducing building energy use through improved energy efficiency. There is also tremendous potential for improving the effectiveness of energy utilization in buildings through automated interaction among building systems, utilities and facility management systems. OpenEMS enables these interactions and as a result, benefits not only building owner/operators but also product and service suppliers as well as society as a whole.

Where Can You Get OpenEMS?

OpenEMS doesn’t come in a box, off the shelf, or through the mail. It is a web of business and technical connections among a building owner/operator and their suppliers. Of course, those connections require a technical foundation, or information platform, that bridges the gap between building automation (where BACnet is the key technology) and IT (where Web Services is the key technology). For a building owner/operator, that foundation will necessarily encompass their energy management system and that is why energy management system selection is a critical issue.

Energy management systems, and the companies that support and maintain them, must be full participants in the energy ecosystems of building owner/operators. This requires a different kind of system and a different kind of company. It requires energy management systems that support transparent industry-wide interconnection. Vendor-specific “standards” will not be sufficient. Collaboration among supplier companies will be equally important. No one company can optimally fulfill all roles in an energy ecosystem. As such, selecting an energy management system with the goal of implementing OpenEMS means selecting a partner as well as a product.

In a world of volatile rate structures, dynamic regulation and uncertain economics, energy management systems must do much more than just manage and optimize energy use. They must be integral components in energy ecosystems where they create a foundation for OpenEMS. Energy management suppliers must do more, too. By definition, no single supplier can deliver on the full value of OpenEMS, so best-in-class suppliers must work together to serve a building owner’s diverse and often complex energy management and information needs. In future columns I will walk through some specific scenarios where collaborative suppliers and OpenEMS can deliver concrete value to building owner/operators.

Smart infrastructure in buildings

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

The value proposition exists for all stakeholders, from the developer who saves from a lower capital cost to the operator and/or tenant who saves from a lower operational cost and to the end user who obtains a better user experience.

Without an intelligent infrastructure in the buildings they manage, facilities managers will increasingly find it difficult to monitor utility consumption, the first vital step in achieving energy savings and improving the bottom line.

As utility charges increase, and become punitive for organisations that show little progress in reducing their energy consumption, for example, the pressure is on management to establish a usage base against which future consumption can be managed.

Putting in place software solutions that help monitor consumption and check utility invoices for accuracy will also go a long way to helping facilities managers confidently manage their domains.

Gaining ground in the Building Automation Systems (BAS) arena is Software as a Service (SaaS) which is increasingly being implemented as an essential tool for facilities managers to better manage a single system or multiple systems of their property portfolios. There is a good business case when it comes to utility consumption and costs.

SaaS is application software remotely hosted and managed by a service provider that takes responsibility for ensuring the application is always up to date, integrating this where necessary with third-parties, such as telecommunications companies, electrical meters and municipal administrations.

In isolation, each of these administrative tasks has mainly nuisance value for the facilities manager if they are managed in house.

Each application must be individually upgraded and managed. New tariffs loaded and kept up to date and this is fiddly, time-consuming and not core to the business and therefore often is incorrect which causes more administration to rectify.

What we are increasingly doing with construction projects in which we are involved is to design the facility with SaaS in mind and ensure the components are included in the intelligent infrastructure of the building or complex.

This means that as components that need to be managed are installed – such as air conditioners, lighting systems, PABXs, lifts systems, fire alarm, security, access control systems – the communications infrastructure that enables their remote management is already in place and so implementation is straightforward. There is no need for a retrofit.

Having SaaS implemented from the start of occupation of the premises enables facilities managers to accurately manage consumption of services and implement energy saving measures.

“ICS Controls” Without the base measurements of energy consumption, for example, there is no way to accurately measure whether consumption-reduction strategies are being effective and saving operational costs. If you are going for a green star-rated building you will need this information to claim your green building council points.

But using SaaS is only the most obvious of benefits intelligent building infrastructure brings to facilities management. The profession should take a more proactive stance in persuading building developers to plan for future Information and Communication Technology (ICT) needs before construction starts.

A building’s integrated ICT platform needs to accommodate a variety of systems needed for the efficient operation of the building and tenant experience. These include security access controls, air conditioning, lighting, emergency evacuation systems, public address and promotional systems as well as tenant company-specific IT requirements.

There must be sufficient flexibility in the design of the intelligent backbone to allow for future inclusion of feature-rich services that were perhaps not initially envisaged or available at the time of planning.

Making allowances for expansion of services will contribute substantially to the owners ability to attract high-value tenants on long-term leases, thereby ensuring an attractive return on investment.

Having in place the intelligent infrastructure on which to implement building management systems gives facilities managers the tools to manage, for example:

• Energy data – – intelligent energy management, such as monitoring room temperatures in a data centre and turning air conditioners on and off within pre-determined temperature ranges, without the need for human intervention.
• Environmental data – enables, for example, individually adjusted ambient temperatures for reception areas and offices within the same building.
• Maintenance data – gives management the necessary information to be proactive in managing the facilities, such as escalators, access controls, power supply and telecommunications.
• Occupancy data – means having at management’s desktops accurate information about interactions with tenants and determining the profitability of rented space and facility usage, and
• Location data – this gives accurate information on the whereabouts of company assets and triggers alerts when these assets are moved.
The value proposition exists for all stakeholders, from the developer who saves from a lower capital cost to the operator and/or tenant who saves from a lower operational cost and to the end user who obtains a better user experience.

Green Intelligent buildings…Whats next?

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

An argument could be made that our preoccupation with intelligent buildings has been very focused on mechanical service controls with a bit of lighting control added. By that I mean the underlying communications architecture that has paid the price of entry for buildings to truly become both intelligent and green. In fact new technology just hitting the market for “energy business intelligence” will truly transform our industry.

For nearly a decade the buildings industry has talked of convergence and intelligent buildings. However I would argue that in spite of many developments the paradigm in our industry has not been shattered. That paradigm has to do with people. We have been preoccupied in the buildings space by standards like BACnet and LON and operator interfaces like browsers, but the fundamental fact remains: these tools are only intelligible to people who know buildings. In short all of the effort has been on the plumbing that carries data, but there has yet to be a fundamental sea change in the way that buildings and systems are actually controlled.

Over the most recent decade my emphasis has been on buildings and on the the importance of efficiency, demand response and smart grid. The timing is now for these ideas to be the emphasis in buildings. Of course with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act there are 767 billion reasons why that is true. For the UK its different, with new regulations come in imposing this requirements i.e.Welsh assembly on including BREEAM ‘very good’ rating in the conditions of planning approval. The construction sector companies are poised to build their entire business model around opportunities presented and that makes sense. However, it is also the right time to do this and it is the right thing to do. My personal belief is that no one is better positioned to seize this opportunity than the integration community. With the downturn in new construction many buildings professionals are scrambling to redefine themselves. Energy was seen as the most important business opportunity for the next three to five years, but the question of how to pursue it remains.

The next frontier for integration will look like a variation on energy services and will be built around the idea bringing value propositions to owners. At the heart of that offer will be a hot new technology that might be called enterprise energy management on steroids. Energy Business Intelligence will be to buildings what the iPod was to music. To illustrate this point I will use an analogy to another Apple product, the iPhone. Consider the catchy television commercials we have all seen that talk about “aps” (applications) for the iPhone like calculating the calories in your lunch or finding your car. For all the intelligence that has been put into buildings, at the end of the day only an engineer can truly diagnose and trouble shoot a building automaton system. So what about the green in the title of this article, well only an energy engineer can measure and verify the effectiveness of the building system. The idea of energy business intelligence won’t transform our industry on day one, but its impact will be unquestioned.

So what is energy business intelligence? Well it is a Web Portal with Data Warehouses, Online Analytical Processing and SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) Web Services that overlays applications like “Key Performance Indicators” (KPI), WhatIf Decision Support System, Geographical Information System and Business Processes onto building systems to create an Enterprise Resource Planning and Financial Management tool for Energy as well as a real time management and energy policy enforcement tool for the building owner. The first tool of this type is called Global Energy Management for Sustainability (GEMS). The GEMS Web Portal allows owners to manage campus sustainability in real time. Converting terabytes of energy and building information is a major challenge and this tool is designed to change data into knowledge. For example, at the University of New Mexico this GEMS Web Portal publishes energy data and carbon footprint in real-time. Managers establish Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to assess effectiveness of facility operations campus wide or on a building by building basis. Operators use the Microsoft Virtual Earth tool to zoom in from space to the campus. Once a three dimensional campus map comes into view, the user can chose to select KPI icons, time periods and a host of other metrics. For example if an indicator like “energy cost per square foot” or “carbon footprint” is selected, campus buildings change color based on performance against a predetermined metric. A building in red needs attention because it is consuming too much, while those in green are in the zone. GEMS users can drill down into the automation system to troubleshoot problems, but the preferred approach will be for this to happen automatically. It will be possible for systems to be integrated and programmed to execute self-learning applications and optimize energy performance to achieve new levels of sustainability.

Smart Grids Start With Smart Ideas

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

As we get more smart grid programs throughout the US and UK there is already a long line forming of product and service providers clamoring for their piece of this new green energy market. But the developments so far are disappointing for this reason. Active members of our industry – you and I – have a unique understanding of the nature of the major loads served by these electric grids – buildings. But so far, I see very little appreciation or desire for effectively employing that special understanding into smart grid concepts that are likely to really work.

One of the big challenges in smart grid development is the effect the shift to renewable energy will have on electric grids. As renewable sources of electric power such as wind or solar begin to climb in percent of total power into the grid, the predictability of the overall power applied into grids will fall. Wind speed and solar isolation are hard to predict hours ahead, and even if we learn to do so, it will still leave us with those natural variances that will be difficult to manage.

This is a great challenge, but it is one that many of us who have worked in building energy system design and operations have special insight to resolve. And our solutions are likely to be much more economical and effective than what I am hearing being proposed. Instead of starting by installing specialized energy storage devices throughout the grid, would be developers of smart grids should look to the buildings themselves as the primary dynamic that can keep available power and loads balanced. As we enter this era of increased variability and reduced predictability of power sources, buildings themselves when properly configured and controlled can provide the needed balancing flexibility. From my perspective, there are two critical elements of the building energy system that can be exploited for smart grid applications without the need for any new systems. And there is a big additional benefit to starting here to develop truly smart grids:

1. Off-hour Standby Operation: It has been shown over a number of tests, that in many modern commercial buildings, less energy is used if the building is switched into a “standby” mode when unoccupied instead of shut down entirely and then restarted before the start of next occupancy. As building envelopes become more efficient, this will soon be true for nearly all buildings, both commercial and residential. In such operating schemes, energy use is very flexible, especially during standby hours and load characteristics can easily be changed to suit the variability requirements of the electric grid.
2. Building Thermal Inertia: Years ago a study to find what could be done to solve a developing electric peaking capacity shortfall in the business district of a major US city. We determined that by adding networked HVAC and Lighting control capabilities to major buildings in that area we could reduce total peak electric demand at any time by at least 30% for short periods of time without any noticeable effect on the building occupants. The thermal inertia property of buildings is quite well known among many in our industry. It was a key component of control strategies my firm and others used for many years in the early days of digital controls. This field needs to be reopened since it provides a far more economical and useful approach to managing the modern electric supply/demand equation than many of the other energy storage systems being considered.

But there is another enormous benefit achieved by focusing first on buildings as a means to balance electrical demand with available power. That is the substantial reduction in overall energy use that can accompany such a focus. It has been shown very clearly in many applications that the same smart building controls capable of off-hour standby modes and “whole building” demand control can also greatly reduce overall building energy use during the rest of the building operations hours. Many of us in the building industry know that capturing this energy could have a dramatic added effect in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are at the core of the motivation toward smart grids. We know why many of the programs aimed at capturing those savings to date have performed so poorly and we could be part of the solution to correcting such failures in the future.

There are many reasons the building industry is largely bypassed in conversations about developing smart electric grids. But already having a plethora of smart ideas does not seem to me to be one of them. It’s time for all of us to speak up and be heard. Developing smart electric grids requires smart ideas and our industry can be a valuable contributor in developing them!

Welsh Govt unveils ‘green standards’ for new build

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

 The Welsh Assembly has today issued increased environmental standards for new buildings in an attempt to combat climate change.

From September, new homes will have to score at least three stars out of six under the Code for Sustainable Homes. The rule should cut carbon emissions from new homes by more than 30 per cent, the government said.

Builders will also have to use more sustainable materials in construction.

In addition, non-domestic buildings will be expected to meet the BREEM ‘very good’ standard as a minimum.

Environment minister Jane Davidson said: “I am determined to use the planning system to move towards zero carbon buildings.”

The move makes Wales the first UK nation to set minimum standards for sustainable buildings through the planning system.

This will change the way developers approach future construction. Professional services will now be require to be employed to achieve this certification and documentation.

David Slade – Typical engineering work undertaken

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Seasoned electrical design engineer representing multi national and SME size companies, within the Building Services built environment, in tacking major capital projects with confidence, applying a wide range of knowledge, expertise and experience to the task; identifying technical requirements for M&E projects and delivering compliant quality designs on time and budget, managing over 100 staff and sub-contractors. Worked on a vast range of design solutions for different industries and uses, based upon BS7671 and NFPA 70 National Electrical Code, for UK and international overseas projects.

Strengths in identifying and solving problems, and communicating these, to be championed as a win-win solution for all  (Client, designer and installer) within agreed target KPI targets and ROI’s.

Experience of business development, branding and taking products and services to market, in defining service offerings and client fee negotiation.


Project manager, Electrical and system integrator designer, problem-solving/decision making, leadership, oral/written communications, team-building, performance and productivity improvement, project management professional, Client’s Business Plans, CAPEX / OPEX Finance support, Marketing strategies, outline and detailed scheme presentations.

Project management:
Cost Forecasting and Analysis, Design Development and Value Engineering Reviews, Building Services Surveys; Commissioning Management, Client handover and demonstrations. CDM & Health and Safety related matters, Project Management, Facilitating client or consultation duties to ensure all design and installation requirements are implemented, contract agreements, scope of works, and liaison with all main/principle contractors and sub contractors / specialist suppliers to achieve resolution and closure of all design and associated responsibilities & installation issues. DSEAR, ATEX, HAZOP studies.

Infrastructure Analysis and Design, Planning Submission and other legal Consents; Utilities coordination; EHV & HV network design, GS/OS standards and OFGEM / Regulatory framework; Energy Networks Association Technical Specifications [ENATS] ER G5/4, 59/1; 57/1 & 83, private networks, DNO’s, ASA, OAMI’s, LEC’S.

Design engineering:
Electrical services design to BS7671 (Including Lighting, Electrical distribution, General power, Fire Detection & Protection, Intelligent Building, security & CCTV, IT and General Building Services), Integrated Design Co-ordination, General and Technical Specifications, M&E Design Authority and Resident Engineer & Supervision duties, life-cycle, PFI Schemes, Reports  (Technical, Financial and Executive summaries), Vertical Transport design, Standby UPS and generator power, CHP/Co-generation, renewable energy sources,

Client side duties:
Developing, implementing and cultivating long-term strategic business goals and objectives, in conjunction with stakeholders. Responsible for developing the company standards, monitoring and reporting of existing services capability and planned growth. Propose capital project planning & rollout for all new and development of existing real-estate. Ensuring the business is never affected by planned company growth, expansion role outs or service outages. The approval of all major planned maintenance regimes, to be achieved safely, within approved procedures and standards and within agreed target KPI targets and ROI’s.


Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I have worked on Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) technical groups on Intelligent building solutions.  Undertaking evaluations and consulting research on various products, services, solutions and standards to support of procurement, development, troubleshoot and performance-tune these applications, and how to specify and successfully get installers to comply with these requirements at minimum of effort by the contractor / installer to comply with the end user requirements.

David has in the past assisted & supporting technical submissions to ACE, BRISA, BOC, CABA, CIBSE & RIBA. In 2006, in conjunction with Paul Mason developed the BRISA, consulting engineers design / production duties detail key stage publication.


2007  –  Teaching homes to be green: Smart homes and the environment – Green Alliance

The Green Alliance approached David to help them with their new best practice guidelines, with Gordon Brown’s latest prioritisation on green living, David’s advise was in a select group of quite a few rather impressive co authorities, including:  The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The DTI, The Environment Agency, The Energy Savings Trust, Defra, CLG, The BRE to say nothing of The Prime Minister’s Office itself.

Channel 4 – Grand Designs 2008

David was appointed to assist in the design a special housing project, on Channel 4 – Kevin McLeod’s “Grand Designs”, which was broadcast in April 2008.


Promotion of Automated commercial buildings:

For the US and Canadian markets, I’m known as an evangelist on promoting BI benefits worldwide and is regularly requested to give talks, presentations, workshops and seminars overseas on the subject to both to national / federal governments organisations, trade association groups and at International conferences about advance building services and IIT solutions, including BOMA, CABA, IET, Infocom & Realcom at various international venues.

Attended CABA Intelligent Buildings Town Hall – Realcomm07, held at Hynes Convention Centre – Boston USA relating to a special Intelligent Buildings Task Force to share and discuss some of the key objectives for the industry

CABA Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forum – InfoComm07.

I was asked by CABA to give a speech and a workshop at the Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forum, relating to IIT solutions and the opportunities, training, risks and rewards within this industry, held at Hilton, Anaheim, USA, in conjunction with InfoComm Conference & Exhibition. CABA’s feedback was very positive. CABA reported that “David received the loudest applause of any of the speakers”, relating to Davmark’s IIT solution held at Hilton Anaheim USA – Infocomm07.

InfoComm is the world’s largest tradeshow in the professional audiovisual industry held in the USA. Nearly 28,000 attendees attended.

Market & industry sectors designed for

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Market & industry sectors I’ve designed for, include: –

Commercial offices, (Shell & fit-out), Banking and dealing / trading floors,  Business Park Developments, Science Parks, Call Centres, Headquarters offices,  Banks & Building Society refurbishments, fashion house and art studio complex.

Schools (Traditional and PFI contracts), Colleges, Universities and campus, Hotel &

Leisure industries:-
Hotels (Single and International), Conferencing and Banqueting Centres,
Entertainment complex developments, Cinemas, Leisure & Fitness Centres,
Sport Halls, Swimming Pools, Restaurant’s.

Retail properties,  Shopping Centers & Malls, National Distribution Centres
(Food/Goods warehouse & Data Processing), Petrol Stations

Airports (Landside & Airside developments, including Arrivals / Departure’s, Pier Developments and terminals), Baggage handling, Specialist systems (FIDS, MAID, ADAM, HEART, CCTV etc)
Railway projects, Railtrack (National Railway Stations Developments), London Underground above and below stations, Dockland light railway

Telecommunications Industry, (including IT networks and cabling multimedia & video conferencing etc);   Collocation/Internet Backbone Providers; Switch sites, PoP’s, Mobile operators switch & co-lo data server sites & National Control centre &Call Centres.
Health Care:-
PFI Hospitals, Hospital wards & Health Centres and other health care type related properties

Government & military:-
HMP (Prisons), HMYOI (Young Offenders Institute),   HM Secure Care Centres, Detention Centres, Court Rooms (Magistrates, Crown Court to Commonwealth Court of Appeal), Government Buildings (Home Office (Immigration and Naturalisation), MOD (UK Army & RAF Airfields, Headquarters buildings & other military establishment premises) to Defence Estates JSP / NATO standards.

Pharmaceutical Industries, Research & Development Facilities / Laboratory’s, Chemical & Pharmaceutical Processing Industries, Petrochemical control rooms,
Wind Tunnels, Warehouse & Industrial units.
Single and multi-residential dwellings
Penthouse complexities
Prestige VIP residential “manor house” type with family and guest wings, and multi functional areas, dining rooms, party entertainment areas, internal swimming pool, spar pool, gym and sauna & steam rooms, plus house staff quarters etc.
Modular / bespoke prefabricated housing solutions.
Offshore & Ships:-
Super-yacht  (170 mtr, seven main deck levels; 5 Star plus residential & hotel complex).
Overseas development projects: –
Water infrastructure and associated company buildings for workshops, staff quarters, and other associated township & support maintenance requirements. Internet Backbone & telecom collocation Providers.

Also advised on international standards for overseas projects throughout the world for planning design/consents, recognised standards, testing and certification bodies etc.

David Slade – about me

Saturday, April 11th, 2009



I commenced work as an apprentice electrician, and have gone on over the last 25 years to hold senior design and management positions working within multinational and SME companies, within Building Services built environment, with a wide range of knowledge, expertise and experience, in tacking major capital projects with confidence. I have worked on a vast range of design solutions for different industries and uses.

To be one of the best you need to understand the project communications,  design responsibilities and client confidentiality, when working with clients on internationally-known projects, with curious media interests looking for a story.

Unusually for a engineer trained person. I’ve also had has experience for client’s offering  business development, taking manufacturing products and other professional services to market.

That’s without the cause related charity work.

Known as the ‘Third sector’ – That another different world again.

This is a major clash of mind sets, as they don’t normally fully understand each other.

For the engineer:

Works with facts, engineering physics, rules & regulations, building codes and regulations, use standards to determine what to select and use. Prove with calculations, and designed so that it can be constructed by others.

Computer: Intel computer with Microsoft software: Word, excel, Autocad and other specialist software being used.

Output: drawings, reports, specifications……..For a tender issue – Box or CD full of paper work (A4, A3, A0) bound / loose for copying by others.


For advertising it’s generally about branding and a single message to market, using as little amount of words and images, as possible to communicate this to the intended customer.

Designer: Images, phase, image, look and feel.

Computer:  Apple G5 – (What other computer’s could my client be using then? Intel whats that?)

Output: Dependent on output media: One image, tag line or a poster.

The effort is getting to this delivery point.

Marketing is different it’s about planning and ‘the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’. This definition covers just about every aspect of business, from what you pay for your raw materials, right through to how you make, price, distribute, advertise and sell the ‘look and feel’ of the product / service.

Designers and publishers:  Apple G5

Management: G5 / Intel computers

I’m also internationally known for my developed in Integrated Information Technology (IIT) design approach solutions.

I’m regularly requested to present these ideas at various seminar / leadership forums and workshops internationally, including CABA Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forums, relating to leading edge IIT solutions and business opportunities, risks and rewards. Introduced and defined “Lifetime Freedom Homes” to the industry.

Welcome to my world