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"I wasn't looking to buy at all, but when I heard about Dockside I thought this is something I want to be a part of," said Kennedy, who has lived there for two years with his young family. "And this component [smart meter], specifically, it is wonderful but it is only one of many things Dockside has done."
Dockside, a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum, mixed-use development owned by VanCity Savings Credit Union, is considered a world leader in environmental design. It will eventually house 2,500 people and feature 26 buildings.
One of the components that makes the buildings so "environmentally friendly" is the plastic wall display.
It's a high-end, Victoria-manufactured and configured smart meter.
The display provides real-time feedback on each suite's electricity use, energy use, and hot water use, as well as the suite's overall carbon emissions footprint.
It also allows homeowners to measure themselves against the building's total carbon footprint and compare any day's use to previous days, weeks, months and years.
"Seeing real-time data definitely makes a difference," said Kennedy. "It's dead easy because you see the numbers right in front of you, so you don't have to even be very conscious of it to modify your behaviour."
Kennedy said the real-time data allows him to turn on the stove, for example, and watch the kilowatt hours start ticking over.
"Having the direct connection to it and in real time, rather than waiting until the end of the month and wondering 'what did I do that month,' lets you see the impact of what you're doing and you can make changes [immediately]," he said.
The meters at Dockside were manufactured by Victoria's Reliable Controls and configured by Houle Electric for the development.
They are much more advanced than what B.C. homeowners will get when B.C. Hydro begins its $930-million smart-meter conversion program - for example, Dockside's system allows homeowners to access their meters remotely via the Internet and adjust energy usage from anywhere in the world.
Hydro's program will initially only provide one-way data - from your home to Hydro - but it is expected that, by 2013, in-home displays like the ones at Dockside will be available on the market.
While there may be debate over the Hydro program, Tom Zaban, vice-president of sales and marketing for Reliable Controls, said the writing is on the wall and this kind of control and data is what people want.
"We've been in this business for more than 25 years, but right now being green is fashionable," he said, during a tour of Reliable's 20,000-square-foot facility in View Royal.
Maps lining the walls of the company's administration wing show distributors of Reliable's products all over the world - there are more than 200 in 24 countries, and they are growing steadily.
The company is bursting at the seams in its existing building, which has necessitated the building of another 20,000 square feet of space - LEED platinum to be completed late in 2012 - to house administration, engineering and research and development.
"Energy control and comfort has become fashionable again because people are realizing that 40 per cent of all of our energy production is being consumed in buildings and something like 70 per cent of electrical consumption is being consumed by buildings," said Zaban, noting that, as energy prices rise, it becomes smart to pay attention and optimize buildings.
Reliable's products, which monitor and regulate energy, heat, light and water use, tend to be used in commercial and institutional buildings rather than residences as the cost of installation prevents the average homebuyer from adopting one.
But Zaban said that is where the industry is heading, and individual occupants - both of residences and commercial buildings - are going to be getting more control of their space, and with that more responsibility.
"That means the occupant can become more accountable for their performance and they can see what their incremental contribution to the overall [carbon footprint] is," he said. Higher-end homes are already doing that and their owners are using smartphones to control their space. "If you make it easy, people will do it - monetize it and show people where energy is costing them."
That's good news for Reliable, which will be looking to expand its roster of 100 employees when it gets new space to house them.
As far as Kennedy is concerned, it's about time smart meters hit the market. He shakes his head when he hears debate over whether Hydro should be rolling out the devices at all.
"The cynical side of me says I'm not surprised there's debate over this, but the realistic side says I can't believe it's taken this long," he said. "It makes so much sense."
Posted in Media Articles on June 27, 2011| Tags reliable controls, houle, smart panel, carbon footprint, consumption
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