Smart buildings for the smart grid

Facility uses 60,000 sensors and meters to achieve energy efficiency, water savings and optimized operations.

By Janette Bombardier, P.E., IBM

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Sixty thousand sensors and meters collecting real-time data and information from the electrical grid, water systems, buildings and central utilities. Data fully integrated into one repository, 10 years of history with constant real-time updates of relevant information. Basic intelligence such as monitoring specifications, integrated systems data providing relationship intelligence between utilities and building performance, predictive intelligence in advance of maintenance issues and advanced analytics predicting peak power with automated power load shed. An organizational culture that mines the data, looks for improved quality and reliability for operational performance, as well as efficiency. While many view this as the art of the possible, IBM’s Vermont manufacturing enterprise has operated this way for a decade, continuously driving measurable operational performance and advanced analytics.

IBM’s Center of Excellence for Enterprise Operations in Burlington, Vermont, develops and delivers best practices for effectively running an installation of more than 30 buildings and 3.5 million sq ft of space. This secure facility includes an electrical grid that peaks at 65 MW, manages 3.2 MGD of water (water supply, industrial water production and wastewater treatment and compliance), building operations and central utility operations. The expansive integrated network of sensors monitors multiple systems, which play a critical role in achieving the quality and reliability requirements that the 24/7 manufacturing operation requires. Interconnected systems bring all the data together, which allows the team to drive continuous performance improvement with advanced data analysis and analytics. Smart grid, smart water and smart buildings are integrated to provide continuous operations to a site that hasn’t had a shutdown since 1997. In addition, the team has also driven extensive cost and environmental performance improvement. The site has an outstanding environmental and energy management record receiving at least one Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence every year since the award’s inception 17 years ago. It has been named the Facility of the Year by Environmental Protection Magazine, is an OSHA VPP site for safety, has received multiple awards from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Keep America Beautiful.

We will focus on the smart grid and an integrated system approach to facilities management.

The IBM Vermont smart grid includes 5,000 of the site’s 60,000 meters and sensors, which monitor parameters such as Watts, Volts, Amps, kiloWatt-hours, and sags and swells. The 65 MW system, which correlates to a small city, takes power from two 115 kV transmission lines and drives all distribution and steps down the voltage to accommodate everything ranging from 2,000-ton chillers to manufacturing equipment and office outlets. The interconnected system allows not only instant access to data, but also links to an automated paging system to provide real-time alerts. Historical and real-time data are available to not only guide system operation and maintenance actions, but are invaluable in driving the energy management program. Through data analysis and analytics the location has been able to drive a 20% reduction in energy usage and a 5 MW average peak power reduction over the past 10 years, while still growing manufacturing capability. In addition, the location has successfully participated in the ISO New England demand-response program over the past five years with an estimated $750,000 in savings over this period by voluntarily shedding electrical loads during times of peak demand on the New England grid. Through the analysis of electrical usage, the team determined which operations could be moved off peak, and which loads could be temporarily shut down under controlled conditions during peak hours.

The results are impressive, but the process starts with having a clear strategy and definition of mission critical parameters for energy management. For the IBM location, the critical objectives of the electrical grid are reliability, quality and cost. Reliability means zero downtime for a continuously operating facility, base load and peak power available all the time, and no interruptions. Only life safety systems have backup generation. Quality means semiconductor process equipment is expensive and sensitive (pure sine wave power, with voltage variation within the defined SEMI standard only). Cost encompasses a minimum 4% reduction in energy use every year. Clarity is critical. Short-term and strategic objectives need to be established for each critical parameter.

Successful strategy deployment must include an organizational design, which includes clear roles and responsibility, ownership of the measurable objectives with the data to support results and a culture of innovation that looks for new ways to do business every day. IBM Vermont’s energy management is unique in driving ownership, particularly in energy efficiency and conservation programs to drive the goals outside of the facilities organization and include mission-critical operational groups, as well as all employees. Involvement of all employees is fundamental to success as an estimated 1.5% to 2% of the energy reductions come from behavioral changes. Leadership from the top of the corporation to the top of the enterprise ensures the electrical system requirements are integrated into business operations and viewed as a key imperative, versus an extracurricular activity.

With system objectives defined and the organization established to support them, the smart grid can now be leveraged for operational performance. So how does this work?

We will focus on the smart grid and an integrated system approach to facilities management.

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