Posts tagged with "smart grid":

The future of smart power could lie in a single solar, storage and communications platform

In a 2016 broadcast of NPR’s Fresh Air, author and cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke characterized America’s energy grid as “increasingly unstable, underfunded, and incapable of taking us to a new energy future.” Nevertheless, the steady march toward progress continues, and the threat of obsolescence is driving many cities, urban planners, developers, and businesses to invest in the future. “We happen to be at a moment in time where people are starting to fear that technological obsolescence in the workplace and in cities is a pretty tough place to be and has some real consequences economically for the buildings and the cities that don’t have high-speed networking or don’t have modern energy,” observed Brian Lakamp, founder and CEO of Totem Power. “That’s why you’re seeing city planners, mayors, and businesses get more aggressive about deploying built environment technology than they ever have been, as far as I can tell.” (Note: Some states, such as California, have already passed legislation requiring new buildings to be outfitted with electric vehicle charging ports.) Identifying significant shifts in transportation, communication, and energy, Lakamp saw an opportunity to solve a problem that innovation imposes on our aging buildings. For example, as millions of electric vehicles begin to flood the market in the years ahead, a major investment in infrastructure will be required to support them. Similarly, as buildings are rewired with higher-gauge electrical cabling to accommodate new energy and communications networks, it’s clear that smarter, more flexible solutions are required to meet these ever-increasing demands. “With the coming of 5G and some of the IoT technologies, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, there’s a lot that is emerging that needs to change in terms of the way communications networks work and new technology is presented that gets really exciting,” Lakamp said. “We’re here as a way to deploy that infrastructure in the built environment in a way that can be made beautiful and impactful.” To that end, Lakamp launched Totem, a groundbreaking energy solution that reimagines and redesigns smart utility. The Totem platform combines solar energy and energy storage, WiFi and 4G communications, electric vehicle charging, and smart lighting into a single, powerful product that weaves these capabilities directly into the built environment.

How It Works

Totem is, at its core, a vertical server rack that’s designed to support evolution in technology over time. Its base product deploys over 40 kWh of energy storage that serves as a grid asset and dynamic energy foundation that ensures energy quality and provides critical resilience in the event of broader grid issues. Integrated solar generation, electric vehicle charging, and LED lighting add further capability to each Totem and sophistication to each property’s energy assets. Totem also provides a reliable hub for Wi-Fi, 4G, and 5G cellular services to bring high-speed connectivity to properties and communities. Through its modern connectivity platform, it also presents a key communications gateway for IoT devices on and around properties. According to a statement from Jeffrey Kenoff, director at architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, “Totem is one of the first to unite design, infrastructure, and community in a single as well as exquisite platform. It’s hard to imagine a major project or public space that it would not transform.”

Chicago’s big building owners embrace the smart grid

The members of Chicago's Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) control nearly 80 percent of downtown Chicago's rentable building area. That makes them critical to local energy efficiency initiatives that aim to reduce the nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy that is consumed by buildings. At a trade show Wednesday entitled "Building Chicago: Greening the Heartland," BOMA officials reported on progress from their smart grid initiative first announced in 2012. The plan, now wrapping up its test phase, would share energy data among BOMA members for the purpose of cutting energy use in many large buildings. BOMA initially fought—and still opposes—the city's energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance that requires non-industrial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to report their energy usage publicly. A BOMA spokeswoman said after the event that the group only opposes mandatory public disclosure of energy data, not its collection. Using smart meters from Chicago-based Automated Logic, BOMA has completed pilot testing on several downtown buildings. The “smart grid” refers to a responsive system for distributing and using electricity (and eventually other resources like gas and water) wherein utilities and consumers automatically share data that can be used to reduce the overall demand for power. Meters designed for BOMA measure energy data second-by-second and can be reviewed in real time, said Mike Munson of smart grid technology firm Metropolitan Energy, as opposed to typical meters from ComEd that usually measure at 30 minute intervals and whose reports can only be viewed monthly. For the owners and managers of buildings over one million square feet, utility bills can top $800,000 per year—often among the owner's highest expenses along with labor costs and property taxes. Still, said BOMA's T.J. Brookover, they are accepted as a fixed cost. "Very few times are we dissecting those bills, looking at them, and understanding how we're using energy,” said Brookover. BOMA is trying to encourage more of its members to sign up for the program, but officials admitted it “has been slow” to bring skeptical building owners and managers on board. Under the terms of the plan, they said, individual buildings only see their own data, but only BOMA sees all of it. "The city hopes to shame owners into investing in energy efficiency,” Brookover said of Chicago's benchmarking ordinance. On the contrary, he said, BOMA's plan emphasizes cost savings. Whether you pursue energy efficiency because you hope to slash hefty bills or limit the rising tide of climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions, said BOMA Executive Vice President Michael Cornicelli, smart grid technology has a role to play. "We can all get what we want from a well-designed smart grid infrastructure and strategy,” he said.