US energy control company Echelon has launched a suite of tools and products for energy management in buildings aimed at integrating a range of devices, applications and building automation standards. The idea is to make buildings more ‘grid aware’ and ultimately work with, and benefit from, emerging smart grids.
The new suite builds on Echelon’s existing open standard, multi-application platform for buildings. It pulls together a building specification guide to help design and build energy efficient buildings, an application that enables an open building automation architecture, a building network operating system to manage energy management systems and a building energy management toolkit to incorporate a range of devices and applications in a customised energy management solution.
Eric Bloom, research analyst at Pike Research, commented that "Commercial buildings consume about 25% of all electricity worldwide today, so boosting efficiency in the commercial sector is crucial to reducing operating expenses and carbon emissions. To meet these challenges, new energy management technologies are starting to transform the way in which businesses, government agencies, and utilities manage and reduce energy consumption in buildings.”
In fact Pike Research has just released a report on the building energy management systems market. It points out that in the current economic climate governments, building owners and companies are looking for ways to become more efficient and building energy management systems (BEMS) are a key element.These systems include the software, hardware and services for the monitoring, management and control of energy, particularly for reducing energy consumption and costs.
According to Pike’s report ‘Building Energy Management Systems’, worldwide revenue from building energy management systems will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 14% through the rest of this decade, reaching just under $6bn a year by 2020.
Echelon’s new product suite highlights the nature of this market at the moment, with disparate solutions addressing different aspects of building energy efficiency (at least that’s my perception – I haven’t read the Pike research). It’s this issue that the new offering from Echelon is addressing – it also represents an opportunity for an ‘open’ solution to pull all these pieces together.
The fragmented nature of the market may hold it back somewhat, although continued pressure on companies and building managers to save money will certainly keep the focus on ways to increase efficiency. Integrated solutions are the way forward, but it may not be until the benefits of full smart grid integration are available, i.e. not until smart grids have actually been implemented (which is still a long way off for a lot of counties, including the UK), that the full benefits will be seen.