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Principles of Networked Electronics and Energy Efficiency

I had the pleasure of talking to Bruce Nordman of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LNBL) this evening. It is always nice to come upon someone who has bear end of the same bone as oneself, coming at some related issues from a completely different perspective.

Bruce is presenting at the International Energy Agency next month. Poor guy, he has to go to Paris when I got to go to Chicago. Bruce is approaching problems from the perspective of the electronics world—and so recognizes some things faster than I.

DC Power? We discussed Galvin, and he leapt immediately to POE (Power over Ethernet) , USB (Universal Serial Bus) and FireWire as the de facto standard DC power plugs. I don’t think that these will handle my microwave or my white boxes (Washing Machine, Refrigerator, etc) but it makes sense that these might be the starting place for DC power connectors. I have long admired the elegance of the Blackberry USB Power Supply.

But what drew me to share this conversation were Bruce’s Guiding Principles, as outlined on the IEA site (see below). Bruce is an advocate of all networked electronics being designed for effective power management. TO this end, he (and his co-authors) have described their guiding principles for design. They make a good set of rules for building systems, or for houses, or for the Grid, as well.

The Guiding Principles are:

  • The existence of one device on a network should not cause another device to stay awake when it might otherwise go to sleep.
  • The network should be designed such that a legacy or incompatible device will not prevent the rest of the network from effectively using power management.
  • Devices should expose their own power state to the rest of the network and be able to report estimated or actual power use levels.
  • Product interfaces — for people or other products — should follow (international) standard principles and designs.
  • Products or devices that influence energy consumption should adhere to (international) standards for behavior and communication appropriate to their function.
  • Products and connections should have the ability to modulate energy use in response to the amount of service required.
  • Energy efficiency efforts should not favor any particular hardware — or even software — technology. All network technologies must be the target for efficiency efforts. Future buildings will include many different technologies; those in any particular building will be diverse, and always changing.
  • Harmonization of basic principles underlying efficient design for networked devices should cross all end uses and be global.

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