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Top 7 energy trends of 2017
It’s a new year – and new trends in energy use are on the horizon. We’ve rounded up the top seven to help you get even smarter about energy and enhance your facility.
Buildings get connected
The Internet of Things (IoT) is already here, and it’s growing. Business Insider predicts the number of internet-connected devices will grow from 10 billion in 2015 to 34 billion in 2020. In commercial buildings, connected ‘things’ include sensors and controls. IoT is behind new, smarter buildings that deliver more timely, useful and accurate information. Business owners can now have greater control over their facility and energy use. They can also increase occupant comfort and employee productivity, while improving operations.
Lighting glows for the people
Human centric lighting (HCL) may be the next big lighting trend. People have evolved to match Earth’s natural lighting cycle – dimmer, ‘warmer’ light in the morning and evening, and brighter and ‘cooler’ in the afternoon. But the light and color tone of most indoor spaces remain constant. Dimmable, color tunable light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with advanced controls can be used to mimic the changing levels and hues of sunlight. HCL can save energy and, research shows, help improve alertness and mood. That can lead to increased worker productivity and a better customer experience.
Refrigeration goes greener
Environmental concerns have increased the use of natural refrigerants, including carbon dioxide (CO2). Transcritcal CO2 refrigeration systems are becoming more appealing to businesses, as CO2 refrigerants often offer greater cooling capacity and reduce environmental impact. Additionally, legislation is driving efficiency gains, with new walk-in cooler and refrigeration equipment energy efficiency requirements taking effect in 2017.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems go with the flow
One strong trend in HVAC is variable refrigerant flow (VRF), which moves refrigerant, not air or water, between the outdoors and inside of a building. VRF enables individual zone control, allowing facilities to maintain selected temperatures for each room or zone.
Plug loads increase
Plug loads are steadily representing a larger share of total electricity consumption. Fortunately two technology trends are fighting back. Smart power strips can sense when a device is turned off or not used, automatically shutting off the power to everything else plugged into it. ASHRAE 90.1-required automatic switchable receptacle outlets (50%) also combat plug load. These switched outlets are turned off based on occupancy, non-use or timers. Both technologies can help businesses take control to save energy and money.
Electric vehicles charge ahead
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California leads the country in electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Now, EVs are picking up speed across the nation – thanks to the development of lower-cost lithium-ion batteries. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asserts costs for these batteries have fallen by 73% since 2009. Also according to the DOE, improved and expanded charging infrastructure combined with EV cost reductions and performance enhancements will only contribute to further EV sales growth.
Solar energy continues to shine
When it comes to solar, California is the trend setter. In fact, more PG&E customers use solar than in any other region in the country. Propelled by a reduction in installation costs, use of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at homes and businesses are growing rapidly. But businesses don’t have to install PV systems to take advantage of this renewable energy. PG&E’s Solar Choice and Regional Renewable Choice programs offer small businesses option to purchase up to 100% of their electricity from solar power, without installing solar panels. Discover PG&E’s solar and renewable energy programs for businesses.
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