Southern California Edison (SCE) has recognized the Irvine Company for its leadership and innovation in reducing energy consumption at high-rise office properties during peak-usage periods, when temperatures soar and demand for power threatens to exceed available supplies.
SCE presented the Irvine Company with the “2012 Environmental Leader Award for Demand Response” at a luncheon hosted by the utility in early December. For the past three years, the Company has voluntarily participated in SCE’s Demand Response program. SCE created the program with two goals in mind: to maintain a steady supply of energy during peak usage periods, which primarily occur during the hottest days of summer, and to avoid the need for new power plants.
The Irvine Company was the only non-industrial customer to be honored by SCE, and one of only four in all of Southern California to be recognized for demonstrated leadership and innovation in Demand Response.
An Effort ‘Unmatched by Our Peers’
“The recognition by Southern California Edison is the result of work by our Operations Engineering and Energy Management teams in conceptualizing, planning, implementing and directing an effort that I believe is unmatched by our peers in Southern California,” said Rich Bluth, Vice President of Energy Management, Irvine Company Office Properties.
The systems that have been developed allow the Company to plan and execute electricity load reductions across Office Properties’ Orange County high-rise portfolio through one comprehensive user interface, Rich explained. “Our performance against our goal is monitored on a real-time basis leveraging our energy management infrastructure, providing us the opportunity to make adjustments during the course of an event if required.
“As a major real estate owner in Southern California, the Irvine Company is constantly looking for innovative ways to conserve energy as part of our long history of stewardship. Participating in the Demand Response programs helps prevent unplanned outages and rolling blackouts that would negatively impact our customers both at work and at home.”
Program to Expand to Campus Office Properties
Currently, the majority of the Irvine Company’s high-rise properties in Orange County are included in the program. The Company also participates in a similar program in San Diego with Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE). Beginning next year, the Orange County program will be expanded to include nearly three dozen of the Company’s campus-style office properties, Rich said. This expansion will increase the Company’s overall Demand Response capability by 25%.
Minimizing Impacts on Company’s Tenants
At noon the day before SCE anticipates a major surge in power demand, the utility notifies the Irvine Company; Rich’s Energy Management team in turn notifies the engineers and property managers at the participating high-rises. They in turn alert tenants via email and fliers posted in the lobbies that they may notice changes at their location during the course of the demand response event.
Rich said initial reductions primarily impact “non-critical” energy usage such as lighting in common areas. In addition, during an event, the participating properties adjust their HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems to predetermined set points so they are working in tandem to conserve energy. Typically, the Company participates in two-hour periods during events, usually from 4 to 6 p.m. – close enough to the day’s peak energy demand for the conservation efforts to have an impact but late enough to minimize impacts on Office Properties tenants.
SCE compensates the Irvine Company for the energy it saves, but Rich said the amount is nominal – and the savings aren’t the reason why the Company participates.
“Energy conservation is a core part of the Irvine Company’s culture and history,” he said, “and participating in the Demand Response program is another example of our commitment to reduce energy consumption in a meaningful way.”