On the final day of NECA 2023 in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Jeff Beavers, executive director of network integration and services for NECA, moderated a session called “Navigating the Transition to an Energy Efficient World.” The panel of experts featured Farukh Aslam, CEO of Sinclair Digital Services, Inc., a low-voltage design and consulting company developing digital DC-microgrid buildings; Bob Dagostino, founder and president of Dagostino Electronic Services (DES); and Steve Eaves, the founder and CEO of VoltServer and the inventor of a new technology class for electricity distribution called fault managed power (FMP).
The speakers discussed the ever-changing energy landscape and the continued technological advances for technologies, such as 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi connectivity, and Power over Ethernet (PoE). “A revolution is happening, and we’re at the tip of the spear,” Beavers said. He also described how in the next decade, we’re about to witness a technological boom that surpasses the technological advances of the last century.
First, Eaves described “digital electricity,” which sends electricity in small, discrete pulses that last about 1.5 milliseconds from a transmitter to a receiver. This newer electricity type is so small that it won’t hurt humans or start a fire, and, based on 2023 NEC Art. 726, it creates a safer transfer from the transmitter to the receiver, Eaves said.
Next, Aslam discussed some of the technologies he has been implementing into his design projects, including the Sinclair Hotel. Completed around 2018-2019, the hotel features LED lights powered by PoE. Throughout the design process, Aslam and his team figured out that indoor motors, mini bars, bathroom mirror TVs, and eventually, 55-in. televisions and AC units, can also be powered via PoE. With these electricity changes, Aslam said his hotel saw a 39% decrease in energy consumption/costs, even as they moved to a 24-7 energy use schedule (so, approximately $7,000 per month in energy costs for the entire hotel).
Dagostino then went on to describe a recent project that featured a massive 5G deployment at Heinz Field. He describes how new technologies are beneficial for electrical contractors and their customers. In the Heinz Field project, Dagostino said they placed about 400 radios throughout the venue, which all connected to a single location. This space-saving tactic is beneficial for building owners, who are always looking for ways to maximize space and save money.
All of these examples represent how new energy-efficient technologies are poised to create market disruption, as more consumers and building owners look to adopt these technologies. But like all major tech advances (e.g., the adoption of automobiles), this new era of electrification will ultimately advance society as adoption becomes more widespread.
Lastly, Eaves, Dagostino, and Aslam described how tax incentives can benefit electrical contractors, engineers, architects, and building automation companies looking to adopt these energy-efficient electrification technologies. These tax incentives are available for both not-for-profit and for-profit projects and can potentially save up to $5 per square foot for the design of energy-efficient buildings (up from just under $2 per square foot). Additionally, the panel described how contractors can take advantage of new revenue models including power and lighting as a service. These SaaS-style revenue streams can offer customers remote access/support, data-driven insights, and more.