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A lack of resources to carry out load-shedding operations during a demand-reduction event has limited participation in demand response programs in some cases, particularly in small to mid-size facilities. Managers in facilities that lack a BAS have to manually reduce loads, assuming they have sufficient manpower to do so and that it is available. That is a big risk, for many demand-response programs carry a substantial penalty if a facility fails to reach its predetermined load-reduction level within the timeframe defined by the program.
Managers of facilities with BAS have always had an advantage when it came to demand-response programs. With their energy-using systems already connected to a central location, operators could reduce loads easily when a demand-reduction event occurred. Even with the BAS, managers had to initiate the process and end it.
Given the increased interest in demand response, an open standard has been developed to automate the process. For facilities with a BAS, the standard will allow utilities to connect to and issue commands to direct the system to initiate its user-defined demand-reduction program.
Even more importantly, the standard allows for direct connections to energy-using systems in facilities that do not have a BAS, allowing them to participate in the demand-response program in a fully automated way. Customers define the energy-using systems to be connected and the way those systems should function during a demand-reduction event, but do not have to take action on their own. Load curtailment is fully automated and carried out by the utility.
While automated programs have been in use for more than a dozen years, the newest generation of programs follow an open standard. The use of an open standard has reduced implementation costs and the functionality of the demand-response program has improved and is available to more users.
Building system manufacturers and vendors now can build support for demand response into their products, reducing costs, improving flexibility, and making it easier for managers to implement programs. Equally important, the combination of automated demand response and open standards allows managers to set response strategies that more closely match the needs of their operations and those of their occupants and customers.
James Piper, P.E., is a national consultant based in Bowie, Md. He has more than 25 years of experience in facilities engineering and maintenance issues.
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