Where you want to Be if the Electric Grid Fails
This is the 4th article in a five-part editorial series which explains how thermal energy storage along with energy harvesting and green building design principles can make your next commercial build more comfortable and energy efficient. Best of all, these building principles cost no more than conventional construction. This editorial series is sponsored by Termobuild.
Highly dependent on electricity, contemporary buildings operate on a kind of life support. Shut down the energy supply, and the building effectively dies. Doing business within its walls becomes nearly impossible.
This is why power outages cost the US economy so much money – nearly $80 billion per year, according to federal researchers. The commercial and industrial sector bears the brunt of these costs.
SuperStorm Sandy drove home the vulnerability of our electric grid in 2012, when it crippled New York City. Some buildings went without power for as long as two weeks. As a result, New York City is now seeking ways to fortify the electric grid against storms, as are other cities in hurricane zones. New York City intends to ‘harden’ its grid, an effort that will cost $19.5 billion Wisely, the city includes distributed energy storage as part of the endeavor.
In this white paper Termobuild outlines a form of distributed energy storage that uniquely eases one of the most significant hardships that commercial buildings face during power outages – a lack of air conditioning.
Free standby heating and cooling
You only need to be in a Termobuild structure during a grid failure to understand why they withstand power outages better than conventional buildings. Because of its cement construction and smart floors, a Termobuild structure retains its temperature far longer than most buildings. Occupants remain comfortable for up to three days as the structure gradually radiates stored coolness (or warmth in winter) from the supercharged floors and walls. Some workers have reported that they were completely unaware that the mechanical heating and cooling system shut down.
By its very design, Termobuild offers free standby heating and cooling. No additional capital equipment needs to be installed because the standby thermal energy is embedded in the engineering of these supercharged buildings.
That’s one way Termobuild helps ensure reliability. But what about keeping the lights, computers and other electrical devices going? Like many of today’s smart buildings, Termobuild structures can include back-up generators. These systems are often necessary – but they do add yet another capital expense to smart construction.
Here is the good news. Termobuild’s design reduces this expense because it requires less back-up capacity.
When engineers calculate how much back-up capacity a Termobuild structure needs, they take into account its dormant thermal energy. This offsets part of the capacity requirement. A conventional building needs back-up power for air conditioning from the moment the power goes out; a supercharged building can refrain from using back-up generators to run air conditioners for days. This advantage, combined with the building’s efficiency, reduces the amount of back-up generation required and therefore lowers equipment cost.
Lower capacity and less run-time for generators also means reduced fuel use. This is important because back-up generators often use diesel, a highly polluting fuel.
So the ultimate result is a building that offers exceptional reliability during a power outage – and at a price advantage – and with an environmental edge.
But the benefits of Termobuild are even broader, especially when you consider them in the context of the growing requirements and expectations society places on building owners, architects and engineers. We detail these benefits in the next weeks article. If you prefer you can download the the full whitepaper “The Supercharged Building.”