NOTE: Restrictions are in place to limit access to one or more of the files associated with this item. Authorized users must log in to gain access. Non-authorized users do not have access to these files.
Visit the Energy Systems Laboratory Homepage.
A Prescription for Value: Building Automation in a Competitive Energy Market
As markets for electric power open to competition, business stands at the edge of a breakthrough in the efficient, cost-effective use of energy. To companies disappointed with the pace and benefits of deregulation, that statement may seem radical. To those thinking longer term and following advances in building control and energy management technology, it is not radical at all. For years, utility regulation has masked inefficiencies. Competition will expose them and strip them away, and power prices will fall. But marginally cheaper kilowatt hours are only the beginning. The rules of the emerging market will change forever the way companies buy and use energy. The benefits will dwarf those of traditional efforts to cut consumption and curb demand. That is because competition coincides with the arrival of powerful new tools to monitor, analyze and control energy consumption. Low-cost computing power now puts sophisticated energy management within the reach of small as well as large companies. Internet connections make central monitoring and control of multiple facilities simple and inexpensive, regardless of distance. Gas-fueled chillers and generators reduce reliance on electricity as the sole energy source, providing more flexibility and more price options. Savings opportunities abound. In the competitive market, companies content simply to shop for the cheapest fixed-priced energy contracts will realize some savings. Bigger winners will be companies that learn to manage both energy supply and demand, controlling their consumption patterns to capture marketplace price incentives. The biggest winners will be companies that go even farther, using energy information to help guide strategic business decisions: When to invest in new equipment, where to price a product or service, how to schedule building occupancy, whether to build or expand a facility. Using energy to the fullest means being not just intelligent but agile. Many companies already own a potent tool for gathering, dissecting and acting quickly on energy information. A building automation system (BAS), fed with real-time data and loaded with sophisticated software, serves as the ultimate utility meter. Far from passively recording energy consumption, a BAS becomes a nerve center that executes a company's energy strategy. Properly configured, the BAS can automatically control building functions to use energy in the most cost-effective manner possible. More important, it can deliver energy information in clear, compelling formats, directly to the desktops of people best equipped to translate it into value for the organization. The technical capability exists today. Competitive energy markets will only magnify the possibilities. " If you sign up for a long-term, fixed-price contract today, you are leaving a lot on the table."
SubjectBuilding Automation System (BAS)
Kuhel, G. J. (2001). A Prescription for Value: Building Automation in a Competitive Energy Market. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu). Available electronically from