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April 24, 2014 -
Today's tip is about automated demand-response, a strategy gaining in popularity and use among facility managers, and a strategy that can result in big energy savings.
You're probably already familiar with demand-response. It's a simple way to shave a few bucks here and there off of your monthly utility bill by undertaking temporary and voluntary reductions in energy use - lowering lighting, increasing the set point on the HVAC system slightly, or turning off a couple of elevators.
But in many cases, demand-response is still a manual function — facility managers choose which things to turn off or turn down, and then use their BAS to do so, or still in some case, go out and manually hit switches. Oftentimes, notification from the utility of a demand-response event, which usually coincides with the afternoon peak hours when electricity demand is very high and expensive to produce, comes via text message, e-mail or phone call. Facility managers then implement those demand-response plans and notify occupants that the facility is in a demand-response event for the next several hours or so.
These days, a strategy called automated demand-response is becoming increasingly popular, especially as facility managers continue to take advantage of the increasing expertise and technology resulting from continued emphasis on making the grid smarter.
Automated demand-response allows the utility to send a notification to a facility's building automation system, at which time, the BAS automatically initiates a pre-designed demand-response plan. So, with automated demand-response, the process of responding to an event is much easier, indeed it's automatic. You have the fancy BAS system, now why not take advantage of all its capabilities?
In addition to automated demand-response, which some experts estimate make up only about 10 percent of all demand-response programs, soon, facility managers will have more options about how to take advantage of real-time pricing and how to run facility equipment based on the specific cost of a kilowatt hour at a particular time.