Energy Management Systems can range from a simple dual light switch or a dimmer to a full-blown server-based system controlling climate and lighting from an integrated energy management system. It all depends on your application which technology, if any, is most appropriate to achieve an energy-saving that outweighs the cost of the management system itself. This means the implementation cost should amortize over the lifetime of the building and the management product as well as the ongoing cost should be far less than the saving benefit attributable to the energy management system.
It is important to know that the smart grid can control mission critical energy distribution on a larger scale but local energy management devices and software can save a much larger amount of energy. Local dimming, motion sensing and daylight sensing can automate and save energy use to a far larger extent than the smart grid can also allowing users to decide for themselves what they consider mission critical for their home or business rather than the government or the energy providers.
Energy management systems of the future, and some do already deliver the future today, have to combine electrical devices, lighting, air-conditioning and heating, fresh air and heat exchangers from one central and independent system.
When replacing an outdated energy management system or implementing energy management for the first time, you may want to consider what the near future brings. For the experts it is already clear today that solid state lighting will be the future and that conventional and gas-discharge lighting is going to disappear with digital dimming rather than conventional dimming taking the stage.
In 2012 the a new ASHRAE/IES 90.1-2010 standard came into effect and it is expected to be implemented or used as the basis for a model code for states and municipalities, focusing on its prescriptive lighting power requirements as well as significant changes to its scope and administrative requirements. The updated standard has extensive new mandatory and optional lighting control requirements and its changes regarding controls are nothing short of historic.
However, those model codes do not consider the possibility of highly efficient lighting devices that can produce more light output for even less power input, allowing higher than prescribed light levels while staying well below the maximum power allowed for the application nor do they take into consideration that the power may be generated and used locally in a fully sustainable way, in which case none of the ordinances can apply as they relate only to grid supplied or publicly generated power.
This brings me to my favorite subject DC Systems mixed with AC Systems and devices that can be grid and 48-V DC powered as well as having the kind of controls required to cost effectively provide the highest levels of energy savings. Electricians have to be introduced to those new systems and the need to upgrade their knowledge to DC Systems and Controls is urgent.
Architects and Interior Designers have to request those features from Electrical and Mechanical Design companies and the ME companies have to get trained to understand the new requirements and what kind of infrastructure they need and what is available. They may want to look outside the incumbent players and consider some more advanced systems which are currently not provided by the major brands in that space but are available from new players in the field of Building Automation and 48V-DC Systems.