FM Alert: “Facility Smart Grid Information Model” Reaches Key Milestone

FM-Alert-electric-gridWith the recent public review of the Facility Smart Grid Information Model (FSGIM), homes, offices, factories, and other buildings are moving significantly closer to becoming full partners in supporting and managing the electric grid. The proposed FSGIM standard from ASHRAE and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) defines an abstract, object-oriented information model that provides electrical energy consumers with a common basis to describe, manage, and communicate electrical energy consumption and forecasts.

“The potential benefits of this standard—for both energy providers and facility owners—are very significant,” said Steve Bushby, chair of the committee developing the standard and leader of the Mechanical Systems and Controls Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “Almost all electrical energy is consumed in a building of some kind. This standard attempts to capture the breadth and diversity of these consumers by using the term ‘facility.’”

Public review of BSR/ASHRAE/NEMA Standard 201P drew comments from Austria, Japan, and the United States.

“Thanks to our previous industry outreach, the comments were few in number and very supportive of the standard, so we should be able to resolve them very quickly and with only minor changes to the draft standard,” said Bushby.

An information model is an abstraction, not an implementation. Well established communication protocols are already in use for automation and control in residential, commercial, and industrial facilities. However, these protocols vary with the type of facility, and it is unrealistic to think that this installed base will just disappear. For practical reasons, protocols used in a manufacturing environment, for example, differ from those used in a commercial building or home. The vision is that the FSGIM will be adopted by making extensions to BACnet and other communication protocols already used within these facility markets. Each protocol will use its own existing mechanisms to encode and communicate the information within the facility.

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Among the many energy management applications enabled by this standard are potential game-changers, such as on-site generation, demand response, electrical storage, and peak demand management. A facility owner will be better able to understand what factors influence the facility’s energy consumption while energy consultants will be able to determine how to effectively reduce the energy profile of a facility. The FSGIM will enable architects and engineers to design facilities that optimize the energy profile, and controls manufacturers to create products that monitor and manage the facility energy profile. Energy providers will be able to forecast energy consumption and demand more accurately and to anticipate reactions to energy supply constraints. This standard builds on and integrates with other smart grid standards, including Green Button energy usage standards, BACnet, Smart Energy Profile (SEP) 2.0, IEC’s Common Information Model (CIM), and IEC 61850.

“Many experts and organizations helped drive the standard development process forward,” said Bushby. “SPC 201P has had contributions from over 50 individual technical experts representing utilities, consumer interests, and manufactures of products for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.”

To stay informed about this and other standards, visit ASHRAE’s Listerve page and subscribe.