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Building strategies intersect closely with smart grid

By Donna Donnawitz
November 13, 2012
Buildings, both commercial and residential, play a major role in the energy landscape. Smart grid technologies offer the potential to contribute to more sustainable building systems. However, if you want the gains associated with smart grid, you have to consider rethinking your building construction and management processes, a recent GreenBiz report explained.

Understanding the scope of building energy consumption
Citing a study from the Energy Information Administration, which is part of the Department of Energy, the news source explained that buildings consumed approximately 72 percent of all energy in the United States during 2006. By 2025, this statistic will increase to approximately 75 percent.

Furthermore, the Energy Information Administration found that there is not a significant divide between commercial and residential buildings. The split between the two types of structures is an even 50/50, the report said.

If you are building a new facility, running an office or otherwise involved in planning or maintaining a building, smart grid gives you an opportunity to make your structure more efficient. One way that this can be accomplished is by integrating microgrid infrastructure within the building to track how much power is used by different systems and separate different parts of the internal electricity delivery system to improve reliability. This microgrid can then deliver information to the utility provider intelligently, contributing to more efficient energy distribution.

Dealing with building commissions
Industry expert Clay Nesler told the news source that one of the major challenges associated with smart grid in buildings, and general structure efficiency efforts, is the commissioning process. As a general rule, most buildings are commissioned with specific purposes in mind at various levels, such as plumbing, power delivery and other parts of the structure. Over time, technology changes, making it difficult to maintain efficiency. What is even more challenging, however, is when the purpose of a facility changes. In response, more organizations are going through ongoing commissioning processes in which they revisit the original commission every few years and make any adjustments to the building based on changing needs.

Using smart grids internally
The data center is one of the most prominent types of building discussed in the smart grid conversation, as microgrids could have a major impact on power delivery and reliability. However, using smart grid systems in any internal setting is dependent on deploying serial to Ethernet solutions for media conversion. This enables organizations to connect the Ethernet infrastructure to many of the utility-specific technologies that run on serial connections.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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