Embracing New Tech Is Key to Greater Energy Savings, Say Experts

October 2, 2015 By Jennifer Hermes

warehouse imageEnergy efficiency has entered a new era, one in which diversification will be the key to greater energy savings, writes Dan York, Utilities, State, and Local Policy Program Fellow with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). While CFL programs have, in the past, led to significant savings and made up the lion’s share of utility program portfolios, energy efficiency programs can no longer count on attributing to CFLs such significant savings because higher equipment standards and new building codes have raised the baseline against which the savings are measured, he writes. And with advances in technologies and new approaches, companies will need to look to a wider variety of energy efficiency measures.

The ACEEE’s new report, New Horizons for Energy Efficiency: Major Opportunities to Reach Higher Electricity Savings by 2030, released last week, finds that the ability to reap energy savings from energy efficiency is being boosted by new technologies and practices, system optimization, and behavioral approaches. The report analyzes 18 measures – including reduction of plug loads, conservation voltage reduction, and smart manufacturing – that could collectively save 22% of total projected electricity use in the year 2030. “The future holds many opportunities for even greater energy savings. The cornucopia of energy efficiency will remain bountiful,” the study finds.

Real Estate Market Jumps in with Both Feet

Such integrated measures could reduce energy consumption by 30% or more in real estate properties, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute. These types of deep retrofits, utilizing a variety of technologies, can reduce operating costs and improve the satisfaction and health of occupants.

Energy optimization is seen as the greatest benefit that new technologies will contribute to the real estate market, says a report from Partner Energy on GlobeSt.com. “Continuous energy commissioning, persistent building optimization, and real time utility benchmarking are some of the most signifi­cant value-add opportunities facilitated by technological developments in the CRE space,” Tony Liou, president of Partner Energy, is quoted as saying. “In recent years, more and more of our clients who own and manage real estate portfolios consider energy ef­ficiency and sustainability an integral part of their real estate investment strategy.

HVAC Often the Next Step after Lighting…

Of those polled for the Paradigm Shift: Technology’s Impact on CRE report, more than half believe that such energy improvements will come from retrofitting HVAC systems, along with more efficient lighting and control technologies.

HVAC is considered one of the “low-hanging fruit” from a pure energy savings point of view, says Mandeep Khera, VP of marketing and channels for Daintree Networks, and companies are taking notice.

…Then, Perhaps, IoT

Technology that contributes to interconnecting a variety of systems will also become more prevalent, Khera says. Once a company has a system for controlling lighting and HVAC, and finding energy savings and operational efficiencies there, they may expand to plug loads, fans, refrigeration, vending machines, security cameras, and more. If facility managers can interconnect these all on the same platform, creating an Internet of Things (IoT) within a building, it can result in up to 70% in energy savings and operational efficiencies, he says. This is an idea that is gaining traction among facility and energy managers.

For example, MUFG Union Bank is beginning to look at adding EMS systems when they upgrade their HVAC system, says Paul Blagbrough,  VP  of the bank’s environmental stewardship department.

According to a recent BI Intelligence Report, the IoT will add $1.7 trillion in value to the global economy.

Hotbed of Energy Technology Innovation

When it comes to new technologies for energy efficiency, Hawaii has developed as an emerging source of startups, due in large part to the need to come up with solutions in the face of the high electricity prices there, writes Greentech Media.. For the same reason, solar has become increasingly important; in fact, Hawaii lawmakers have set a goal to have 100% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025.

A Hawaiian nonprofit, Energy Excelerator, is helping startups become engaged in the state’s energy market with funding and strategic relationships. The organization believes that Hawaii is a unique testing ground for innovation and an ideal economic environment that catalyzes their long-term growth. The organization recently said, for example, that People Power, a user engagement company providing apps, cloud and mobile services for the IoT, announced $4.4 million in Series B funding, and that Rebound Technologies, Inc., was awarded $748K by the National Science Foundation to continue developing its IcePoint technology, a commercial refrigeration system that saves commercial users up to 60 percent on their freezer operating costs.

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