News Archives: August 2011
I just received an in-depth briefing from executives at Johnson Controls (JC), the $34 billion multinational giant that is now moving aggressively into demand response.
The update helped me realize that smart buildings are poised for explosive growth. That coming upsurge is both a threat and opportunity for utilities.
Let me see if I can summarize the trend. Then I’ll tell you more about Johnson Controls to illustrate how one of the big players intends to own a piece of this market.
There is a huge stock of commercial buildings ripe for energy efficiency (EE) and demand response (DR). The nation’s approximately five million commercial buildings are responsible for 18% of total annual energy consumption in the U.S. And office buildings have the highest energy expenditures of all commercial building types – $15.8 billion per year.
Thanks to Julie Wernau for the excellent look at the recent growth of “green jobs” in the Chicago region (“New study defines, identifies green jobs in U.S.,” July 13). In particular, Illinois has benefitted from new clean energy policies that have encouraged 17 new large-scale wind farms since 2007. These projects have delivered cleaner air and over 14,000 new jobs so far, according to the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University.
While Illinois has been among the best in the nation at jumpstarting large-scale wind farms in rural areas, we have lagged in bringing renewable energy projects into our cities and suburbs. We now have a great opportunity to spur similar job growth in those communities with Senate Bill 1652, the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act. Key provisions of the “smart grid” legislation would remove barriers currently blocking renewable energy projects from being built on large roofs across the state. If enacted, the smart grid will bring solar panels and small wind turbines to currently vacant rooftops. The tops of big box stores, industrial parks and office parks would quickly become job sites, with electricians, equipment operators, carpenters, laborers and others installing pollution-free power systems that will help stabilize our electric grid.