Using technology to improve energy efficiency

Robert Bernardi


Walker said that a BAS, which replaces older digital controls, or pneumatic controls, with direct digital controls, offers much tighter control of equipment, remote control through a Web interface, and occupancy sensors that can be activated by motion, infrared heat and sound. A BAS is best suited for large commercial buildings, such as United Natural Foods Inc. in Ridgefield, which uses a BAS and is a LEED Gold-certified facility.

Variable frequency drives

Walker mentioned a third way of using technology to lower energy consumption – variable frequency drives (VFDs). He explained that VFDs can operate in speed ranges as wide as 10 to 300 percent of fixed speed. By controlling motor speed so that it finely corresponds to varying load requirements, VFD installations can increase energy efficiency up to 50 percent, and can eliminate the need for expensive and energy-wasting throttling mechanisms such as control values and outlet dampers. Common industrial applications of VFDs include air compressors, pumps, and fans of various types.

“If it’s got a motor,” said Walker, “you can likely make it more efficient.”

Walker said that an energy-consumption improvement project typically results in at least 25 percent savings.

Larry Blaufus, CPU’s senior manager of energy technologies and services, said that CPU can assist businesses with energy studies and recommendations, and offers incentives for local businesses to engage in energy-efficiency improvements. Blaufus said that incentives can cover up to 50 percent of the total allowable project costs or the total electric energy saved times the per-unit incentive (determined by the BPA, ranging from $0.18 to $0.25 per kWh), whichever is lowest.

Examples of CPU incentive programs and energy-monitoring solutions include
the following:

  • Commercial/Industrial Lighting Incentive Program (CLIP)
  • Industrial Custom Lighting and Energy Efficiency Improvement Projects
  • EnergySmart™ Grocer
  • EnergySmart™ Industrial
  • Network Computer Power Management
  • Small Commercial Retrofit Windows
  • Green Motor Rewind

“It’s simple to get started,” said Blaufus, “and we manage the entire process.”

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