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Intelligent Power Loads Provide Flexibility and Energy Efficiency

Convia takes a different approach to lighting controls. Denis Du Bois talks with Convia at Greenbuild 2009.

This is a highlight from the Building Priorities Briefing.


Denis Du Bois: Convia takes a different approach to lighting controls. But then, you might expect something different from a division of Herman Miller, the Aeron chair people.

Their control system extends to temperature and even plug loads, like desk lamps and computer monitors.

They've taken advantage of the falling cost of microprocessors, and the rise of very lightweight communication protocols, to build a plug-and-play system that's simple to program, and easily reconfigured when workspaces are rearranged.

(Greenbuild 2009 expo floor interview)

Jane Chadesh, Convia Controls: ...The system was designed to do three major things. The first thing it does is it distributes power throughout a space, and it does so using modular plug and play connections. So it's a power distribution mechanism that creates very flexible power. So that is power delivery.

The second major function is then control. It acts as a control system that allows you to deploy different energy management strategies. All of the components are fully dimmable on the system, and you can deploy strategies like timed shutdowns, occupancy-based lighting, daylight harvesting, etc.

Which gets to the third major function outside of flexible power delivery and control: metering. Each one of the microprocessors that sits next to the load has a chip that is measuring actual voltage. At a very granular level you're given a view of your facility, and you can see which areas are performing the way they are supposed to.

That's kind of, in a nutshell, what Convia is designed to do. We've also taken the Convia technology and built it into Herman Miller workstations. What will happen when he walks away is the workstation plug loads will power down. ....[booth staffer leaves workstation] Thank you! That happened just on cue. Now I'll sit down in the workstation and everything turns on. My desk light and screen come on.

When you're deploying an energy management strategy, it's a more broad approach to energy. It doesn't just incorporate lighting, it takes into account plug loads as well.

Finally, it allows for HVAC control because you may want a single occupancy sensor to control lighting plug load, but it makes sense also to adjust the temperature when somebody is not in a space. It allows for temperature setbacks on thermostats.

Denis: Now, does this qualify for financial incentives, tax incentives, grants, rebates?

Jane: It does. There is up to a $1.80 per square foot of tax incentives that are available for hitting certain ASHRAE standards and those would qualify under that. And because again it does metering, it makes it easier for companies to apply for those tax credits because you can show the before-and-after effect.

We also have partnerships with different power companies to allow for demand response strategies. We partnered with Southern California Edison, and they actually gave us the specs. Because what sometimes happened in California is when companies get the signal to reduce load by 30 percent they will shut things down and send people home.

With this, people can stay in the space, and the space is smart enough to adjust the loads based on what's happening and that is based on the priorities that the facilities managers have set for all the different loads. That's the dynamic load balancing capability.

Denis: Chadesh says Convia customers have been seeing a 4- to 5-year payback on the system.


Great post! Am currently in the process of changing meters of the factory where i work and thinking of using 'smart metering'.. Came across your article which is very insightful. I also came across this site that provides quite a lot of info about the area. Might help..

Great Post. I totally agree that when deploying an energy management strategy, we have to keep a broad approach to energy saving. It doesn't just include lighting, it takes into account plug loads as well and use of smart metering.