Review and Highlights from 2010 AHR Expo

Review and Highlights from 2010 AHR Exp

 
By Bill Lydon - Editor
 
More than 28,000 Attendees & 1,800 Exhibitors
 
The 2010 AHR Expo held on January 25-27, 2010 in Orlando Florida was a busy event. Exhibitors and attendees were upbeat but cautious about the economy.  Major areas of interest included energy conservation, government stimulus, alternative energy, and sustainability.   Not surprisingly, hundreds of exhibitors were featuring energy-efficient solutions and there were a variety of educational sessions on that topic. Some exhibitors from last year did not participate this year but more than 200 companies were first -time exhibitors at the 2010 AHR Expo.
 
 
Because new construction is at a standstill, contractors, system integrators, and consultants are looking for ways to improve existing buildings.   In general, vendors are cautious - many seeing small incremental improvements in their business and hoping this positive trend continues.  Energy conservation remains a big topic particularly in a down economy where everyone is looking to control costs. The energy and sustainability focus was apparent including 56 exhibitors listed as solar suppliers and 53 as energy recovery suppliers. Automation and control systems were well represented with 84 companies exhibiting.
 
A popular topic was trying to figure out how to get a piece of the government stimulus money. Many people expressed some frustrations in dealing with government entities.   There have been a number of recent announcements in the United States:
 
February 12, 2010 - Obama Administration Launches $130 Million Building Energy Efficiency Effort
The Obama Administration is pledging up to $130 million for a multi-agency initiative that seeks to boost regional economies while making buildings more energy efficient. The plan will create an Energy Regional Innovation Cluster that will partner with local governments and building industry experts to reduce energy use.  More Information
 
January 20, 2010 - DOE to Award $37 Million to 17 Solid-State Lighting Projects
DOE is awarding $37 million in Recovery Act funding to 17 high-efficiency solid-state lighting projects. The grants will support research, development, and manufacturing of solid-state technologies to increase the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). More Information
 
January 13, 2010 - President Obama Awards $2.3 Billion for New Clean Energy Manufacturing
Drawing on funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama has awarded $2.3 billion in tax credits to 183 clean energy enterprises in 43 states. The move benefits manufacturers of components and systems relating to renewable energy and energy efficiency. More Information.
 
January 13, 2010 - DOE to Award $47 Million to Boost IT and Telecom Energy Efficiency
DOE is awarding more than $47 million in Recovery Act funds to 14 projects that will improve energy efficiency in the information technology (IT) and communications sectors. IT and telecommunications now account for 3% of all U.S. electricity use.  More information.
 
January 13, 2010 - Labor Department Awards $155 Million to Support Green Jobs
The U.S. Department of Labor has allocated $155 million in Recovery Act funds to boost green job training. The initiative is designed to prepare job seekers for a range of clean energy careers, and to help agencies share information about the clean energy labor market.  More Information.
 
January 6, 2010 - DOE to Invest up to $366 Million in Energy Innovation Hubs
DOE has announced plans to invest up to $366 million in Energy Innovation Hubs that will speed research in three areas, two of which relate to energy efficiency and renewable energy. Of those two, one will produce fuels from sunlight, while the other will improve energy-efficient building designs.  More Information.
 
Net-Zero Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy had a booth promoting the Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative that aims to achieve marketable net-zero energy in commercial buildings by 2025. Net-zero energy buildings generate as much energy as they consume through efficiency technologies and on-site power generation.
 
The Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative (or Commercial Building Initiative) encompasses all activities that support this goal including industry partnerships, research, and tool development. The DOE website provides information to learn more, design guides, energy simulation software, and case studies.  More Information.
 
Wireless
Wireless continues to grow in this industry with 41 companies demonstrating wireless controllers and 35 companies showing wireless sensors. The Building Automation/HVAC industry is embracing wireless very quickly to take advantage of installation advantages and exploit new application opportunities. There were a number of popular, proprietary-based wireless products offered in the market. The major open standards groups appear to be ZigBee Alliance (www.zigbee.org) and EnOcean Alliance (www.enocean-alliance.org).
 
EnOcean &BACnet Interoperability
BACnet International (www.bacnetinternational.org) and the EnOcean Alliance (www.enocean-alliance.org) announced cooperation with BACnet’s Wireless Networking-Working Group (WN-WG) to develop a vendor independent gateway specification for integrating EnOcean-based wireless energy-harvesting nodes into the BACnet data communications protocol. The working group’s standardization efforts aim to ensure the interoperability of multiple EnOcean and BACnet solutions available today or in development, as well as future implementations.       
 
Another Protocol - CLIMATETALK™
The ClimateTalk™ Alliance booth promoted this new protocol and communications standard for HVAC industry. ClimateTalk is an open standards communication framework that enables simple connectivity among diverse HVAC and Smart Energy devices. ClimateTalk was launched in 2009 with members including Consert Inc., Embedded Electronic Design Solutions (EDC), Emerson Climate Technologies, E-Senza, EWC Controls Inc, Microchip Technology Inc., Rheem Manufacturing Company and Watsco, Inc. 
 
Why another protocol?
The alliance members in the booth indicated that ClimateTalk achieves the goal of easy-to-use solutions for homeowners as well as installation and diagnostic simplicity for contractors, which is of growing importance as the number of certified technicians for advanced systems continues to decrease.
 
ClimateTalk enables multiple types of devices to communicate using a common messaging structure over any physical medium. It is designed to connect different types of energy appliances using a common language, referred to as the Common Information Model. The standard defines a CT485 physical communications that is based on EIA/TIA-485 with provisions to safely handle wrong wiring and meet grounding requirements for residential systems.
 
Protocol standards usually take root when there are some major vendors involved and ClimateTalk has the potential to grow with Emerson Climate Technologies and Rheem involved. ClimateTalk is worth watching.  More Information
 
Embedded Controls Trend
More control and logic is being distributed into end devices. This is being driven by more powerful, low cost processors and improved software for embedded systems. This trend over time will lead to highly distributed systems that are easier to apply and more fault tolerant. Examples of this trend include Eaton’s new H-Max VFD that incorporates two PID controllers and embedded PLC functionality, Honeywell’s programmable Reveal touch screen, and products incorporating Tridium’s Sedona architecture. Another example is Tridium’s co-development work with a major industry supplier to develop a Sedona based integrated controller actuator for VAV boxes.
 
Echelon Pursues System Integrators
It is noteworthy that Echelon is aggressively seeking system integration partners with their new Solutions Partner Program. 
 
Steve Q. Nguyen of Echelon described their goals at the AHR show, "Mostly because our focus as a company is on enterprise energy management, so what we are looking for is to accelerate the adoption of our technology under the energy halo into multisite organizations." Nguyen further explained, “Our traction is with companies who understand control from an IT perspective." Nguyen cited examples including schools, multisite bank branches, and quick service restaurants. 
 
Echelon is also partnering with Invensys Operations management. A key strategy is to engage with larger software companies and large system integration companies. In addition, Echelon has developed rapid deployment kits for energy management.  More Information.