Our demand for energy, especially electric power, is forecasted to continue to increase. For example India's energy demand has grown an average of 3.6% per annum over the past 30 years.
To help accommodate this expanded need while reducing emissions, renewable energy has become a worldwide initiative. Rewables energy sources include wind, solar, hydro and other sources of non-emitting power.
For example, the Chief Minister of Gujarat recently dedicated the 300 MW Gujarat Solar Park, covering 3,000 acres of desert and one of the largest solar parks in Asia. But many utilities worldwide are finding that energy conservation is the cheapest source of alternative power.
To improve the reliability of our electric power grids and simultaneously enable the integration of distributed intermittent renewable energy, utilities worldwide are working to make our grids smarter.
Smart grid technology involves empowering consumers; integrating renewable energy, adding sensors such as synchrophasors, and automating distribution networks. In the United States the top priorities for electric power utilities in 2012 not only include traditional smart grid related technologies such as distribution automation, analytics to manage big data, support for electric vehicles (EV), electric power storage, and solar PV, but also smart buildings.
Japan invested in technology in the 1990's to improved the reliability of the transmission and distribution grid. Both Japan and South Korea have joint smart grid projects underway with U.S. jurisdictions including New Mexico and Chicago. China plans to invest $490 billion in grid upgrades by 2020, including about $90 billion in smart grid technology.
India is projected to soon become the world's fifth largest economy, but to achieve this India needs to increase its electric power generation. To address these challenges in May 2010 the Union Government created the India Smart Grid Task Force, chaired by Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister, one of whose priorities is improving the energy efficiency of the Indian power grid.
Smart buildings means buildings that not only use less power, but are able to manage peak load. Globally the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that residential, commercial, and public buildings account for one-third of the globe's total final energy consumption.
In the U.S. in 2008 buildings accounted for 72 percent of U.S. electricity use. In the future the proportion of energy consumed by buildings is expected to increase as emerging economies develop, rising temperatures increases demand for cooling buildings, and rising personal wealth increases consumer demand for appliances. This has made improving the energy efficiency of buildings, both existing and new structures, a global priority.
According to a recent study by Global Insight currently only 6% of worldwide construction activity incorporates green technology. Driven by regulation, owner and investor demands, resource cost, security concerns, and third party standards, it is projected that by 2020 this could increase to 75%.
The European Union (EU) has taken a leading role in improving the energy efficiency of buildings. The EU has mandatory carbon emission reduction standards, referred to as the 20-20-20 standard, which among other things requires the EU to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2020.
In 2002 the European Commission promulgated the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) which requires all EU member states to upgrade their building regulations and to introduce energy certification schemes for buildings.
About a year ago the European Commission (EC) proposed a new Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) , also known as the EPBD recast, which imposes a legal obligation for all member states to establish energy saving schemes, with the public sector leading by example.
Japan‘s announced mid-term emission reduction target is to cut Japan's GHG emissions by 25% by 2020 compared with 1990, subject to international negotiations.
Energy saving measures for commercial buildings are urgently required, since the commercial sector including office buildings consumes more than half of total energy consumption in the residential/commercial sector. Moreover energy usage growth in the commercial sector has been more striking than that of the residential sector.
The Chinese government has established a goal of having green buildings account for 30 percent of new construction projects by 2020. The Ministry of Construction (MOC) is responsible for the development of a national energy efficient design standard for public buildings which was adopted by the MOC in 2005.
It sets a target of 50% energy reductions compared to pre-existing buildings for commercial and residential buildings.
Zero energy buildings
A major area of focus in the EU is “nearly zero energy” buildings. A nearly zero energy building on average generates as much energy from renewable energy sources as it consumes.
For new buildings, the EPBD recast fixes 2020/2021 as the deadline for all new buildings to be designed to be nearly zero energy. For public buildings the deadline is even sooner, by 2018/2019.
The Government of Japan put forward its ZEB target in April, 2009 which is to acceleration the development of zero emission buildings with the aim that all new public buildings will be zero emissions by 2030. This is a similar objective as the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) that requires that by 2030, all new Federal facilities must be “net zero energy” buildings.
Pike Research has projected that as a result of the recast EU EPBD Directive and similar legislation in other parts of the world, such as Japan, worldwide revenue from nearly zero energy building construction will grow at an annual rate of 43% over the next two decades, reaching $690 billion by 2020 and $1.3 trillion by 2035, with much of the growth occurring in the EU.
Municipalities, electric utilities and energy efficient buildings
In many jurisdictions around the world, government and regulators are mandating energy conservation measures. In Ontario, Canada the Ontario Energy Board's (OEB) Conservation and Demand Management Code for Electricity Distributors (CDM Code) sets out the obligations and requirements for all provincial electricity distributors.
The OEB has set an aggregate target of 1,330 MW of provincial peak demand reduction by the end of the four-year period and 6,000 GWh of reduced electricity consumption accumulated over the four-year period.
In addition for businesses there are a number of programs developed by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to help reduce both peak demand and consumption including demand response (DR) programs and for new buildings a High Performance New Construction (HPNC) program that provides financial incentives for building owners and architects who exceed the electricity efficiency standards specified in the Ontario
Building information modeling
A key technical advance that is transforming the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry is model-based design, or building information modeling (BIM). BIM is an intelligent model-based process that helps owners and service providers achieve better business results by enabling more accurate, accessible, and actionable insight throughout project execution and lifecycle.
BIM also helps enable building energy performance analyses of new and existing structures that can reduce significantly the energy footprint of buildings.
Improving electric power efficiency of new buildings
3DEnergy is a small building energy performance analysis firm that works with architects and engineers to optimize energy usage for new buildings. An energy performance analysis typically starts either with a simplified version of a BIM model of the building provided by the architect or 3DEnergy creates the simplified model from architectural drawings.
The simplified BIM model contains the key elements of the building that are required for the energy performance analysis including walls and floors, room bounding elements, complete volumes, and window frames and curtain walls.
The simplified BIM model is exported as a Green Building XML (gbXML) file. gbXML provides an industry standard schema for transferring building properties stored in 3D BIM models to energy performance analysis applications.
The energy performance analysis uses the geographical location of the building and local environmental conditions to conduct thermal, lighting and airflow simulations to compute an estimate how much energy the building will consume in a year and test different design options and draw conclusions on energy use, CO2 emissions, occupant comfort, light levels, airflow, and LEED certification level.
By conducting energy analyses and testing alternative options, it is possible to reduce annual energy consumption and power bills by up to 40%. As an added benefit and important motivation, in Ontario the OPA will pay for up to 100% of the cost of the energy performance analysis.
In additon reducing the expected electric power usage of a new building compared to code generates an immediate payback of betweeen $400 and $800 per kW from the OPA's High Performance New Construction (HPNC) program.
Improving electric power efficiency of existing buildings
For an existing structure, it is necessary to measure how the building is currently performing. This typically involves compiling information from historical photographs, construction drawings, and field observation.
High definition laser scanning can be used to collect accurate three-dimensional physical and spatial information and an dimensionally accurate building model (BIM) can be created in a fraction of the time that it would take to perform field measurements or interpret the design from existing construction drawings.
Information which would impact the performance of the building such as glazing types, material thermal properties, HVAC zones, and occupancy patterns is incorporated into the BIM model.
With this information, together with the geographic location and orientation of the building, energy performance analysis can be performed that incorporates local historical insolation and weather information including temperature, moisture, wind and psychrometric data and specific energy reduction improvements designed and ossessed.
For example, the combined annual energy use of an historic, 140 year-old, large government building was calculated at around 5.5 million kWh. Space heating and cooling, equipment loads and lighting comprise the largest energy demands.
It was estimated that by with strategies such as zoning, enabling natural ventilation, daylighting and advanced lighting systems, decoupling interior spaces, and solar photovoltaic, it is possible to reduce the building's annual energy consumption by as
much as 60% per year.
The convergence of model-based design, geospatial technology, and 3D visualization breaks down traditional repositories of information.
Interoperability between disciplines makes it possible to model the energy performance of our building infrastructure, which currently consumes one third of the world's energy, and significantly reduce the energy footprint of residential and commercial buildings, providing a large and relatively inexpensive source of “alternative energy” to be used in other critical sectors of Asia's economies.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Power. The author was not remunerated for this article.
Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.
Geoff Zeiss is Director of the Utility Industry Program at Autodesk. He has more than 20 years experience in the geospatial software industry and 15 years experience developing enterprise geospatial solutions for the utilities, communications, and public works industries.