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Energy Alliance Promotes Power Reduction in Colleges

A utility company has teamed up with a "cleantech" development firm to provide a system that integrates energy load response with energy usage monitoring. Constellation Energy and Lucid will be targeting colleges and universities with the new load response program, which, the companies said in a statement, would have no "out-of-pocket cost" associated with it.

Savings generated through the use of the program in one building can be applied toward the installation of Lucid's Building Dashboard software and Constellation's VirtuWatt energy management system in other buildings.

Lucid's Building Dashboard encourages reduced energy usage by supplying users with their energy and water usage--the assumption being that if users know what they're using, they'll take steps to reduce their consumption. Constellation's VirtuWatt integrates with existing building automation systems to track real-time electricity usage and pricing, bid for power through demand response markets, and automate reduction of power consumption during peak temperatures to reduce the chance of power failure for the community at large.

"While the benefits of monitoring and occupant engagement are well known, budgetary constraints often keep organizations from fully realizing the savings potential of energy monitoring," said Michael Murray, Lucid's chief executive officer. "This load response program with Constellation Energy is designed to generate energy efficiency savings that commercial building customers can use to reinvest in monitoring, engagement and sustainability efforts within their organizations."

"By pairing VirtuWatt with Lucid's Building Dashboard, users can maintain better control of their energy use and communicate those efforts with building occupants to drive engagement and further conserve," added Chris Cantone, senior vice president sales of load response for Constellation Energy.

Many institutional customers are already using technologies from both companies. Franklin & Marshall College, a 2,200-student school on a 52-acre main campus in Lancaster, PA, has been using Building Dashboard since 2010 to track electricity consumption in residence halls. The dashboards have allowed the college to remind dorm residents to turn off their mini-fridges, game players, and other devices when not in use.

Four years ago the college began participating in demand response through Constellation. According to Perry Scheid, assistant director of operations, the school was interested in demand response because it fit well with the college's sustainability efforts, "and giving back to the community is the right thing to do."

With the setup, certain buildings stay operational, such as dining services. But other buildings are selectively shut down when the need arises. For example, summer camps are moved to specific buildings to localize energy use. In 2009 the school reduced its winter temperatures and raised its summer cooling temperatures by a few degrees and adjusted building hours to concentrate usage.

"VirtuWatt eliminates the guess work of power consumption and costs since we can see in real-time how much energy the campus is using," said Scheid. "We are able to meet the demand response program participation requirements while also not curtailing too much, enabling activities on campus to continue uninterrupted."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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