Energy efficiency and energy-use data collection are both trends in today’s green marketplace, and they were the topic of much discussion at the 2016 Greenbuild Conference, held in October in Los Angeles.


“Buildings will be here for 50 years, and technology changes every 10 years, so it’s a challenge to keep up with the speed of the technology changes,” said Jane Henley, U.S. Green Building Council. “Electrical contractors have an opportunity to renovate with more efficient products, making buildings more energy efficient, which helps governments meet the [requirements] of the Conference of the Parties Climate Agreement.”


Manufacturers and building owners are looking at data collection and the Internet of Things with the focus on creating operational systems to collect business-grade data about energy use in buildings, and storing that information in the cloud where it can be easily referenced. Building system metering—a renovation project that electricians can perform—would provide the information needed to create a plan for energy reduction. 


A trend propelled by the WELL Building Standard, launched in 2014, relates to the effect of buildings on its inhabitants. Ten projects—totaling 50 million square feet—have been certified nationally, and hundreds of projects have been registered in 24 countries. 


“A WELL-certified building has the potential to enhance many health outcomes for occupants, such as cardiovascular, respiratory, immune and cognitive, to name a few,” said Paul Scialla, founder of the International WELL Building Institute.


Greenbuild also provided a look at the present and future of integrated systems.


“A new trend in California is to integrate controls into the lights themselves, which can allow ECs to develop a new skillset to program or commission lights, to recommend systems and train the end-user how to use the system,” said Lance Bennett, vice president of specification sales, Eaton’s Cooper Lighting, Peachtree City, Ga.


Other trends come from the glass and shading industries. View Inc. displayed “electro-chromic glass,” which can both increase and change the amount of light entering a space while lessening glare; lower the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning load; and eliminate the need for any sort of shading.


“[In terms of shading,] our biggest push is an intelligent system that tracks the sun and greatly reduces energy cost in large buildings,” said Matt Alajoki, senior estimator, Roll-A-Shade, Riverside, Calif. “We have to partner with ECs and let them know what we need because, on big jobs that are specifying very complicated systems, we have to get in early instead of at the end of the job to make sure all the electrical work is understood.”


Additionally, wider use of direct current (DC) power is on the rise. EMerge Alliance, a group pushing for adoption of DC power standards, has spearheaded three standards: use of DC power for task level—desktop and plug loads, commercial buildings and occupied spaces, and data centers and central offices.