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Renewables More Viable at Commercial Buildings After DC Power Standard

standardpowerBusinesses are now able to more easily adopt renewable energy sources and energy-saving devices with the introduction of the first DC power standard for commercial buildings. The standard provides requirements for energy-efficiency improvements and integration of on-site alternative power generation.

The EMerge Alliance Standard is a new industry standard developed by industry group Emerge Alliance as a roadmap for the use of safe, low-voltage DC power in commercial interiors. It defines several critical physical and electrical requirements to meet next-generation power demands.

Key requirements include:

  • Reduced energy losses by eliminating device-by-device electrical conversions from alternating-current (AC) power to DC power
  • Use of safe Class 2 power levels, wherever practical, as defined by the National Electrical Code
  • Broad capabilities for faster and simpler moves, adds, and changes in occupied spaces
  • Movement towards interoperable device-level controls and smart grid integration at the building level
  • Easier integration of native DC power sources such as solar, wind, fuel cell and batteries, with traditional AC power sources
  • Flexibility to implement new energy-saving devices, such as LED lighting and controls, and energy-saving technologies, such as renewable power sources, more efficiently and effectively

The EMerge Alliance Standard claims to establish a more efficient means of powering digital, DC-powered devices such as sensors, lighting and IT equipment. It creates an integrated, open platform for power, interior infrastructures, controls and a variety of peripheral devices to facilitate the hybrid use of AC and DC power within buildings.

In the standardized scheme, AC power is converted to low-voltage DC for efficient distribution at the room level, eliminating the inefficiency of numerous AC to DC power conversions at the device level.

The standard also provides for an optional connection to on-site alternative power generation, including solar panels and micro-turbines that naturally generate DC power.

Historically, these native DC power generators required their power to be converted to AC for local distribution, reducing their efficiency and increasing costs, according to EMerge Alliance. Using native DC power generated from on-site sources to drive DC loads more directly can dramatically improve building efficiency, reduce energy costs and reduce environmental footprints, according to the industry group.

The Alliance also is establishing a third-party registration and evaluation program for labeling products based on the standard. This program will benefit Alliance members, system specifiers and building owners by ensuring a variety of easily identifiable products will be available from the EMerge Alliance membership base. The program is scheduled to begin this fall.

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