Making a Smart Building Integrating Heating & Cooling Controls with Electrical Submetering

Making a Smart Building

 Two research and development projects are currently underway in Manhattan where  the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the  state agency that promotes energy efficiency, is supporting the development and  installation of groundbreaking smart air conditioners and heat pumps for smart  multifamily buildings. Both projects, one in an Upper West Side Mitchell-Lama  cooperative and one in a downtown all-electric multi-building cooperative  complex, integrate new smart air conditioners or heat pumps via an existing  advanced electrical submetering system to a smart building load management  system. These two projects have similar objectives: the development of  equipment that will improve energy efficiency, reduce electric bills and  provide the capability for participation in utility and state sponsored demand  response and curtailment programs. Demand response programs reduce the demand  on the Con Edison grid when necessary and offer buildings financial incentives  in return for their participation. Since the demand charge in master metered  buildings represents a significant component of the total electric bill, the  use of the smart air conditioners or heat pumps also provides each building the  ability to further reduce its demand charge. Demand response capability is  strongly advocated by both Con Edison and NYSERDA to provide a mechanism to  relieve the stress on the utility grid during high demand periods, thereby  reducing the likelihood of an interruption of power.  

 The Air Up There

 At Jefferson Towers (pictured), an Upper West Side cooperative located on  Columbus Avenue and 94th Street, approximately 230 through-the-wall smart air  conditioners were installed in 190 apartments. The new units are wirelessly  networked to the building’s existing submetering system that was installed in 2003. The smart air  conditioners are designed to permit building management to automatically reduce  the building’s peak electric demand in response to event days called by either Con Edison or  the New York State Independent System Operator (ISO) by issuing curtailment  commands to the smart air conditioners over the wireless communications  inherent in the building’s submetering system. Because master metered multifamily buildings pay for  electricity based not only on the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) used in a  given month, but also based on its recorded peak demand (KW) this smart  building system can result in bill savings. The combination of a higher energy  efficiency ratio (EER) in the new air conditioners, demand reduction during  summer operation and incentive payments provides the building with an economic  benefit as well.  

 The Jefferson Towers smart air conditioners were recently installed and slated  to undergo testing and evaluation during the summer of 2011. When questioned  why Jefferson Towers agreed to participate in this project, Philip Olivetti,  president of the Board of Directors stated: “Like most buildings, we are always looking for ways to reduce costs and generate  revenue. The smart air conditioning system allows us to do both at the same  time, by improving energy efficiency and allowing us to participate in demand  response programs”.  

 At West Village Houses, an all-electric 42 building apartment complex containing  420 apartments, through-the-wall air conditioners are being replaced with a  networked system of smart heat pumps in four buildings served by a single Con  Edison master meter utilizing the identical advanced electrical submetering  system as installed in Jefferson Towers. The submetering system at West Village  Houses became operational in early 2010.  

 In addition to facilitating demand response, the smart heat pumps will replace  the function of electric resistance baseboard heaters, boosting energy  efficiency dramatically during the heating season as the coefficient of  performance (COP) of the heat pumps are rated at 2.7 compared to the COP of the  baseboard heater at 1.0. This means that the heat pumps emit nearly three times  the heat per unit of electricity compared to the baseboard heaters when outside  temperatures are between 40o F and 55o F, common conditions in the New York  City climate. Accordingly, the economic benefit of this smart building project  is substantial due to significantly lower electricity usage during the winter,  nominal reduction during the summer due to higher EERs of the cooling function  of the heat pumps, lower summer time peak demand charges due to smart building  control, demand reduction during the shoulder months and the ability to utilize  the fleet control capability to increase demand response incentive payments  from Con Edison and the ISO. Anticipated annual cost savings per apartment are  projected at approximately $350 not including any additional revenues received  from participation in demand response programs.  

 Being Smart

 The West Village Houses smart heat pumps are being installed in a four building  section of this 42 building complex (pictured) for demonstration purposes. The  project results will be available upon the completion of the evaluation during  2012. This demonstration project provides a significant option for other  all-electric buildings to further reduce their energy costs.  

 The Jefferson Towers project is being managed by Jordan Dentz, of the building  energy research and consulting firm The Levy Partnership, in Manhattan. Herbert  E. Hirschfeld, P.E., located in Glen Cove, New York is the NYSERDA contractor  conducting the West Village Houses project. Both researchers are collaborating  with each other on their respective projects, coordinating technologies and  results. The submetering system provider is Intech 21 located in Port  Washington, New York. The heat pumps for West Village Houses are provided by  Islandaire located in East Setauket, New York and the new air conditioners  installed in Jefferson Towers are also provided by Intech 21.  

 Over the next year the projects will be fully evaluated, with results being  published in print and on the web. In additional to technical articles and  conferences, the project organizers plan to publish case studies and conduct  workshops for buildings interested in this technology. More information will be  available at and   

 Herbert E. Hirschfeld, P.E., CEM is an independent consulting engineer. Jordan  L. Dentz is a senior project manager with The Levy Partnership, Inc. of NYC.  

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