The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) is prepared for this Summer’s electrical demand peaks with their first grid-interactive building: the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building. Not only does the building’s automated demand response achieve cost savings, but it demonstrates what is possible on the demand side of the grid as we transition to 100% renewables.

Over the past few years, UTS has been using Buildings Alive’s demand modeling / warning tools to prepare for peak demand days and to implement demand management strategies. Up until recently, this process has relied on site personnel making HVAC control changes on the day that peak demand occurs. We know that facility managers may be called away to deal with urgent issues at any moment, so relying on personnel to make the right changes at the right time was not ideal.

Capacity charges

Peak demand / capacity charges have long been an opportunity for energy cost savings. In Sydney, these charges are based on the maximum energy demand a building places on the grid, typically during specific peak hours. For UTS, these charges apply between 2pm and 8pm on weekdays. The peak demand recorded during these hours determines the electricity costs for the building over the next twelve months.

UTS’s forward-thinking solution

To overcome the limitations of manual intervention, UTS Facilities Management partnered with Buildings Alive, Blue Green Engineering and the site controls vendor (Environmental Automation) to automate the controls sequence in the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building based on the Buildings Alive demand forecast.

The new approach involved programming the Building Management System (BMS) with a series of demand management strategies to be executed automatically on peak demand days. The BMS closely monitors the sophisticated Buildings Alive demand forecast to detect days with higher demand than the preset threshold. When a peak demand day is anticipated, the following strategies are triggered:

  1. Pre-cooling (prior to peak demand period)
  2. Load shedding – several stages
  3. End of day reset – after the peak demand period, settings are reset back to standard in preparation for the following day.

These strategies are all implemented with little impact on occupant comfort.

The benefits of automated demand management

Implementing demand management automation results in cost savings for UTS, but this reduction in demand also has significant broader benefits for the grid, reducing demand at a time when the grid is likely under stress and spot electricity prices high.

The UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is a testament to the university’s commitment to sustainable practices and cutting-edge technologies. By embracing automated demand management strategies in collaboration, UTS is leading the way in responsible energy consumption for educational institutions and beyond.

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