Helping Charlotte become the most measurably sustainable community in the nation, Envision Charlotte also promises exciting economic benefits to all in our urban core. Attracting cost-conscious, green-minded companies to Uptown, this initiative will position Charlotte as a highly progressive business center.
The key components of the program are reducing energy use and costs â€“ areas in which Duke Energy offers its expertise. The goal is ambitious: to reduce energy use in Uptown Charlotte by 20% in five years.
Through emerging technologies, you’ll be able to see your building’s energy usage as never before in near-real time. What’s more, the Uptown community will be able to see data about its collective energy usage via digital displays throughout the center city. With broader energy consumption awareness, all will be empowered to make better personal energy saving decisions, which will collectively add up towards the 20% reduction goal for the community.
In addition, access to this type of information will help you make decisions that will further optimize your building’s performance and promote your existing sustainability efforts, ultimately making your property more attractive to tenants. Your building’s information will be confidential; we will only display community usage information to spur collective energy saving action.
All who own or manage buildings or are employers within the I-277 loop will want to be a part of Envision Charlotte, which is a win-win for all concerned. With this initiative, you’ll leverage technology to motivate tenants to make energy-saving choices, and you’ll be poised to make the most astute decisions about your overall energy use. You’ll also be essential to the program’s success â€“ we cannot reach our goal without your participation.
Energy Program FAQs
- What is Envision charlotte?
Envision Charlotte is a first-of-a-kind collaborative partnership among major employers, building owners and managers along with municipal and technology leaders. Its purpose is to create the most environmentally sustainable urban core in the nation by connecting numerous environmental programs and initiatives. By achieving this vision, it will demonstrate Charlotte’s national leadership as a sustainable, progressive, cost-efficient place to do business.
- What is Duke Energy’s role?
Duke Energy will provide an energy-efficiency offering called Smart Energy NowSM that will serve as the foundation of Envision Charlotte. It will include the digital smart grid infrastructure as well as energy data and insights that will provide greater visibility into the community’s energy usage. Both aggregate community-wide data (real-time usage, load factors, historical trends, etc.) and confidential building-specific information for building owners and managers will be provided. Digital displays will be located in the lobbies of all participating buildings, making the aggregate, community energy usage visible to all owners and occupants. The program is a major component of Envision Charlotte and will engage major businesses and building owners in uptown Charlotte to help achieve a 20% reduction in energy use in five years.
- What is this good for Charlotte?
Envision Charlotte will help promote a healthy place to live, work and play for all residents. It will showcase Charlotte as a leader in global sustainability, helping attract businesses and strengthen our economic base. This is the city of Charlotte’s contribution to lessening the impact on our environment. We join other cities around the nation and the world in creating strategic initiatives to address the impact of the built environment and the way we live and work in a 21st century city.
Envision Charlotte will help the city recruit companies and jobs by highlighting lower costs of operations in center city commercial office spaces as we refine operations and reduce energy costs. This will allow us to attract companies and recruit businesses that care about a great business climate and environmental sustainability.
- What makes Envision Charlotte different from other smart grid cities?
Envision Charlotte is different from every other smart grid initiative in that it is 1) focused and manageable, 2) measurable, and 3) collaborative. The Smart Energy NowSMcomponent of Envision Charlotte is specifically focused on commercial office buildings in uptown Charlotte, presenting a much more realistic opportunity than some larger all-encompassing efforts elsewhere. Smart Energy NowSM has put forward a measurable goal of 20% energy reduction and has made a significant investment in equipment and digital signage to track and measure progress at all times. The written commitments of building owners, major corporations and government show that there is meaningful and powerful collaboration driving the results. These attributes of Smart Energy NowSM have set a positive tone and created a strong foundation for synergistic programs including recycling, mass transit, walking paths, plug-in electric vehicles and more.
- Is my building expected to achieve a 20% energy reduction in five years?
This is a community goal, not an individual building goal. We recognize that Charlotte real estate has some of the best-run and managed properties anywhere and that they continue to improve. In fact, the program is counting on continued improvement to drive the results over the next five years. Some buildings will have greater efficiency opportunities than others â€“ but all improvements will accrue towards the community goal.
- Is a 20% energy reduction achievable just by having more information?
No, however based on results from focus groups and other pilot programs, it is clear that energy consumption information is a critical starting point for encouraging behavior changes that reduce energy consumption. This approach is not about reduced comfort or convenience but rather about empowering occupants with information to make voluntary, personal decisions such as turning off computer monitors when not in use or turning off lights and seeing the results on displays. Additionally, with near-real-time energy usage and other insights from the electrical grid not previously available, building managers can make more informed decisions about operations and may even make certain building modifications to optimize energy efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, even well-run commercial buildings have significant opportunities for energy savings. These efforts to achieve additional savings can be enhanced when aligning the interests of occupants, facility managers and building owners.
- Is everyone going to be able to see my energy usage data?
No, your data will remain private and secure and will only be pooled together with all of the other buildings to create a near-real-time average that will be shared with the community. At no time will your individual data be shared with anyone.
- Is there anything specific I get as the account owner?
Yes, you will get your account’s confidential, detailed usage information on a near-real-time basis. You will also be offered additional information and insights on “what can I do with all this information?”
- What is the timeline for bringing the buildings online?
While we are still awaiting approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission, we feel there will be great progress over the next 12-18 months. Assuming the start date of January 2011, the proposed high-level timeline is as follows:
- 3-4 months – Begin rollout of smart grid technology
- 6-9 months – Unveil public displays and engage community
- 12-18 months â€“ Complete rollout of smart grid infrastructure and digital display in Uptown Charlotte
- Why is Duke Energy promoting energy reduction when you sell electricity?
Duke Energy sells energy AND energy-efficiency products and services, and there are costs associated with both approaches. Power plants are costly investments, so helping customers use less energy creates energy savings, which helps us continue to meet customers’ energy needs while delaying new power plants. The energy saved can also help reduce the need for Duke Energy to turn on older, less-efficient plants, which is good for the environment.
Duke Energy only makes money if we are successful in helping customers save energy. The energy savings must be measurable and verifiable. If we are unsuccessful, then we will not be compensated for our efforts. It is our responsibility to make energy efficiency simple and convenient, so customers see the benefit of participating.
- Are you going to need access to my network?
No, the plan is to use an independent, secure wireless connection so there will be no need to connect into a customer/building network
- If I sign up for Duke Energy’s energy efficiency program am I signed up for Envision Charlotte?
By signing up for Smart Energy NowSM and displaying information on a digital screen, you will be engaged in Envision Charlotte. There is no additional “sign-up” needed.
- Do I need to coordinate efforts with the occupants in my building?
Our hope is that you will encourage your occupants to save energy. To assist everyone involved, we can provide resources and tools to help owners, occupants and the community reach our goals.
- Who is participating? Building owners? Property managers? Occupants?
The group that owns the building will be asked to give permission to put the digital display in a mutually agreeable place â€“ preferably one that has a lot of foot traffic so that the building occupants can become engaged by seeing near-real-time information about the center city’s energy use.
The Duke Energy account holder will be asked to give permission to aggregate their data with the other office buildings in uptown Charlotte. This will be used to generate the “community usage.” Your individual account information will not be shared.
- Will this change the way I am billed?
No, we are not replacing your current billing meter.
- What will Duke Energy do to my building?
For each customer account:
- Digital Smart Meter â€“ This will be a non-revenue meter that will be installed right next to your current billing meter. It will record consumption and communicate the data via a router back to Duke Energy.
- Router â€“ This is a communications platform that will facilitate the communication between the Digital Smart Meter and Duke Energy.
For each building:
- Interactive Digital Display â€“ This display will be used to provide the community energy usage information, actionable recommendations for the community and general sustainability information. Please see this link to view a prototype:www.envisioncharlotte.com.
- Will there be advertising on these displays?
No, there will be no advertising on these displays.
- What is the baseline year for 20% savings?
2010. Though the data will be “normalized” for things like weather, vacancy rates, special usage needs (e.g. data center), etc. We are working with third parties to establish the normalization characteristics and algorithms.
- What if I just made significant capital improvements? Will I not be penalized by doing that just before the 20% savings starts to be measured?
It is always difficult when you establish a baseline, as there will be something that “just missed” the measurement window. Please keep in mind that this is a community goal that will encompass everyone’s effort to operate more efficiently. One way to contribute may be to share your lessons learned with your recent changes/upgrades.
- Can I put specific information on the display in my building?
The final screen layout is still being defined. There may be an opportunity for individual buildings to post information on a section of the screen â€“ that will be determined in early 2011.
- If we have a series of very hot or very cold seasons, how are you going to measure the energy “savings” with weather fluctuations?
The data will be “normalized” for things like weather, vacancy rates, special usage needs (e.g. data center), etc. We are working with third parties to establish the normalization characteristics and algorithms.