Distributed Energy Magazine

Editor’s Comments: Narrative Maps

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Credit: iStock/red_frog
Aboriginal creation myths indicate that in Australia, ancestors charted the geography by singing out the name of landmarks in their path. In doing so, they created songlines—musical maps—that have been passed down from generation to generation. Tribal members still use these songs today to navigate the landscape as they sing their way from place to pace.

Each song tells a story. Its melody describes the contour of the land so that those who give it voice can relate the tonal undulations and sonorous rhythms with their ancestors’ footsteps over river crossings, peaks, and through rugged mountain passes.

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Maps can take many forms. They orient us with intricately drawn borders, compass roses that point north and south, coordinates, and colorful spaces, making clear the ideal route from point A to point B. In this issue of Distributed Energy magazine, we offer a collection of articles intended to guide your organization toward heightened energy efficiency. Consider them narrative maps that support streamlined operations, asset optimization, and enhanced energy management practices.

From detecting heat loss in a building’s HVAC system to tracking asset performance and interpreting energy management data in clear visualizations, maps offer perspective. They integrate data streams to yield a multi-layered perspective often crucial for problem solving. They increase our understanding of our energy resources, our utility systems, and distribution matrices. As a result, we’re able to manage energy in smarter, more sophisticated ways.

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In “Roadmaps to Higher Efficiency”, we explore how energy audits help identify areas of avoidable waste as well as opportunities to improve the building environment in order to conserve energy and money. We learn about the importance of surveying the building envelope to identify critical issues, conducting diagnostic testing to track waste, and developing a comprehensive plan to increase energy efficiency.

In “HVAC Advances”, we identify key trends in the HVAC industry that are leading to enhanced systems performance. The first is a focus on environment for worker productivity inspired by a recent cognitive function study in which researchers discovered that improved ventilation and a green-built indoor environment doubled participant scores on cognitive function tests. The second trend relates to operational intelligence provided by today’s HVAC systems that allows operators to evaluate system efficiency, diagnose issues, and make corrective resets from a mobile device.

We see how automation has transformed energy management with controls that reduce manpower with convenient scheduling and programming in “Get Smart”. We also learn that today, visualizations make data increasingly accessible from mobile devices, while analytics help identify anomalies and integrate data so that building operators can derive greater efficiencies.

In “Interoperability and Integration”, we observe a number of ways in which Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) can facilitate a smooth transition from a one-way electric grid model to a modernized distributed energy system through added intelligence, network flexibility, easier integration, and enhanced cybersecurity.

In an effort to keep energy customers and essential services up and running when the local electric distribution grid experienced disruptions, officials in Utica, NY, installed CHP units in the city’s courthouse basement and gensets at the train station and connected them with an intelligent microgrid management platform. We share the start-to-finish details of this remarkable microgrid project in “Community Microgrid”.

A good map says: You are here. And it shows you not only the destination but also guides you toward the best route to take. Our hope is that each article we share provides that directional guidance and keen insight while inspiring active energy conservation. How will you improve your organization’s energy efficiency in 2019? BE_bug_web

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