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By John Lembo
Energy Efficiency Article Use Policy
The demand side refers to how energy is consumed in a facility or group of facilities, as well as the envelopes in which the energy consuming systems are contained. Demand can refer to the energy consumed by HVAC systems, lighting, plug loads, and industrial process. With respect to the envelope, the types of wall systems, windows, roofs, floors and their corresponding insulating values will all influence how much energy a facility consumes. Demand side management is the continuous oversight, "tuning up," and upgrading of the physical plant systems and equipment.
Demand side management is all encompassing with respect to operating the systems and ensuring that there is an updated plan in place for the replacement of equipment at the end of its useful life, with more efficient equipment and the implementation of technologies that support the overall plan to reduce energy use. It is the continuous evaluation of the facility operation and the application of processes and prudent business practices to best ensure that the facility operates optimally. The term is often used to describe a focus on electric power reduction rather than comprehensive energy consumption, but for the purposes of this discussion, it is being used in a broader sense to address the entire network mentioned previously.
The Energy Master Plan is the roadmap by which the facility manager and energy manager work in concert to manage, track, and reduce energy use. This plan should focus on cost of energy supply, capital deployment for equipment replacements, financial incentives, expense budgeting for equipment and system maintenance, and operation of the physical plant in a manner by which energy is minimally consumed.
Developing the energy master plan should include these five components:
1. The Energy Audit. Energy audits come in different shapes and sizes, from cursory assessments of the space in question to detailed studies that require cost estimates for equipment replacements and data acquisition of system operation. The energy audit is critical to the energy master plan in that it provides a baseline study of a facility's energy use and cost; identifies opportunities for enhancing the operation through capital-based and operational measures; and presents the savings comparison for purposes of investment return and consumption reduction. This is perhaps the most important tool facility managers can use in terms of determining how best to proceed with long term planning.
2. Demand Response. In many areas of the country, electric utilities offer programs that provide financial incentives to customers in their territories to curtail a percentage of their load when asked to do so by either the utility, a third-party aggregator, or entities known as the Independent System Operator (ISO) or Regional Transmission Operator (RTO); this concept, known as Demand Response (DR) has been in existence for many years in commercial markets, but has gained popularity since the late 1990s. Participation in a DR program can prove to be lucrative to the customer in some areas of the country.
While energy efficiency efforts often focus on the larger building systems, smaller steps can be a big savings as well. In most commercial buildings, plug loads can add up to be a hefty amount of usage, as computers, printers, copiers, and other smaller equipment can still be using energy even in sleep or standby mode. A Building Operating Management survey found that in many cases, plug loads are an area where energy management can be improved.
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