Since 2007, the Department of Energy has authorized billions in matching grants to fund smart-grid demonstration projects across the country. The University of Washington recently received $5.1 million of these funds to partner with Seattle City Light, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and McKinstry in the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, a $178 million venture spanning Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Over the years, the UW has invested millions of dollars in efficiency upgrades for its facilities. The smart-grid demonstration project serves as an extension of a long-standing relationship with McKinstry, the university’s energy service partner. Until recently, however, data on the energy use of the 190 buildings across the campus was limited to monthly utility bills, giving only lagging indicators of spikes or excessive energy demand.
As part of its participation in the smart-grid demonstration project, the university installed a campus-wide EEM system with more than 500 smart meters that measure, monitor and report electricity usage in more than 11 million square feet of space. This data is warehoused and then visualized on a dashboard that can compare facilities, display historical data and identify previously hidden inefficiencies.