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Powerful savings: seamless power management optimizes building automation. (Communications & Technology).

The use of power management systems is growing as organizations look for new ways to gain an advantage through cost efficiency. In such applications as business campuses or critical power facilities, such as hospitals and data centers, an integrated, seamless power management system provides a whole new level of energy efficiency. Such a system can help reduce energy costs by 5 to 20 percent.

Power management provides a way to monitor, analyze, and control how an organization uses energy -- in a single building or enterprise-wide. The seamless integration of power equipment is achieved when the individual equipment components in the power system are enabled with open Modbus communication protocols. Enabling with open protocols allows the components to be easily connected without special proprietary software.

Facilities professionals can also choose electrical power management products that extend this transparency to include other building automation systems, such as HVAC, providing information sharing from a single centralized point. Additional web-access using standard web browsers can keep access open from any PC anytime, anywhere, without special software or special training. The manager can focus on the trending, usage, and forecasting data, and on translating this knowledge into greater savings and efficiency.

A complete power management system can monitor an entire power distribution operation, including electricity, air, gas, water, and steam. It can analyze historical and real-time data to help facility managers reduce the cost of electricity and improve its quality and reliability.

Choosing a solution with open communication protocols eliminates extra costs because it offers one common platform for integrating all building automation and control equipment.

Facilities professionals can sort through the marketplace clutter by looking for power management solutions that enhance power quality, provide seamless integration, are easy to install and maintain, and integrate well with other equipment -- including HVAC. Some things to look for include:

* Circuit monitors with built-in surge protection. This is an especially important feature for data centers and hospitals, where maintaining power quality is mission critical.

* Lighting control systems that use circuit breaker technology and can be installed into standard panels. Also look for systems that come certified for use with other leading building automation systems.

* Web-enabled platforms that use open communication protocols such as Modbus, and require no proprietary software.

* Service support by technical experts who can oversee engineering design, start-up, and commissioning, and provide follow-up support. The supplier should provide this service dimension to the customer.

To choose and implement a seamless integrated power management system, facilities professionals should consult suppliers who have expertise in building complete systems. Tapping that expertise before, during, and after installation helps yield the greatest savings and control. Then, the powerful savings can begin.

RELATED ARTICLE: Leading by Example

Here are a few examples of actual savings realized through power management commercial and institutional buildings:

* Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, OH, saved $315,000 on energy costs in the first 15 months. The hospital reduced peak demand by 19 percent and electricity consumption by 14 percent. It earned $150,000 in rebates from the utility.

* The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, was able to integrate mechanical data with electrical data through a 30-building, campus-wide system to track operational and system information on a real time basis.

* Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, captures thousands of dollars in reimbursable electricity costs from tenants and vendors, reducing costs substantially. The stadium also centralized power management and can now monitor power quality to avoid and troubleshoot problems such as harmonics.

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Troy Wurth is with LaVergne, TN-based SQUARE D Power Management Organization (
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Author:Wurth, Troy
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
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