Hello from Seattle where I have been attending the 17th National Conference on Building Commissioning along with about 350 other commissioning providers, researchers, program managers, building owners, and other folks with an interest in how to improve our building stock. Tuesday found Ryan Stroupe, Dave Mosier, Erin Rowe and I bussily presenting a workshop called Analog Lessons for a Digital World that included some “hands on” time playing with toys like the one pictured below.
The link takes you to a copy of the article I wrote a while back that inspired the class. Since then PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center, SMUD’s Education and Safety program, KMC Controls and PECI have worked together to develop the demonstrators and content that support the class which is presented from time to time at different venues. The demonstrator pictured above. which is one of four that we worked with, lets you experiment with the shift in actuator spring range that can occur when air and water loads are imposed on the valve or damper it serves when operating in a real system.
Wednesday kicked off the formal conference with the opening plenary session in which Phil Welker presented his perspective on past, present, and future of the industry. Judging from some of the conversations I heard or participated in afterward;
Many think the industry has a lot of potential for growth as peoples awareness of the need to improve the performance of buildings grows.
Many think finding/growing the talent we need to meet this potential represents a significant challenge.
Quite a few think that ensuring that the benefits of commissioning persist is the real key to long term success.
I happen to agree with all of those perspectives and am glad that PECI and their sponsors continue to plan and host this annual conference to provide a forum for interested parties to meet, exchange ideas, and help the industry move forward.
During the plenary session, Don Frey became the recipient of the 10th annual Benner award, which honors outstanding individuals and organizations for their contributions to achieving Nance Benner’s vision of making “commissioning bussiness as usual”. More on that in a subsequent post.
On Wednesday, Mary Anne Piette, a former Benner Award winner herself and the Director of the Demand Response Research Center, provided a great overview of demand response and its relationship to commissioning and energy efficiency, in her luncheon keynote. This was a good complement to Hannah Freidman’s presentation earlier in the day on the role of commissioning and energy efficiency in building the Smart Grid.
I’ll touch on their presentations in more detail in a subsequent post, but one of the interesting things that I heard folks discussing afterwards was that the initiation of demand response programs could trigger retrocommissioning activities in the end-use portions of our building systems. This is because some of the curtailment approaches used to implement demand control strategies will likely push zones that are barely hanging in there “over the edge”. Addressing these deficiencies could be key to ensuring the persistence of demand response benefits because if they aren’t addressed, Owner’s may elect to no longer participate in the demand response programs in favor ensuring the success of their core business be it tenant or guest satisfaction, producing quality product, or caring for those who are sick or disabled.
Stay tuned for more on the events of this year’s NCBC, expanding on some of the topics I mention above.
Senior Engineer – Facility Dynamics Engineering