Scheduling our Things, Scheduling our Lives
Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 04:54PM
Toby Considine in Energy, Intelligent Buildings, Schedules, Smart Grid, Zero Energy Buildings

The best restaurants are seasonal, and know where ingredients come from. Locavory is dedicated to the proposition that the best food is not only seasonal, but local, served at its absolute freshest. Energy, too has its seasons, and they can be tied to the way we live our lives, and they can bind our things to our pursuits. One of the most intriguing agreements in the standards development organization (SDO) smart grid conference last month, may change how we coordinate our lives and our things.

There is an extra joy to the seasons. The first soft shell crabs Carolina always follow the lunar holiday of Easter, and the first spring moon that triggers the crabs to molt. The first white peaches from the sand hills perfume the kitchen. Even the wistfulness of the last tomatoes before the frost, harvested green and hard, offer their special pleasures when fried.

Energy, and energy use, ebbs and flows each day. Wind farm generation varies with the season as well as with the day. Wave energy varies with the tides, and thereby with the moon. Solar energy, both thermal and electrovoltaic, varies with the season, the day, and the weather. Much of the purpose of civilization has been to insulate our lives from the variability of nature; now, in energy as in food, we are embracing it.

But face it, while we like local energy, none of us wants swelter in the dark. While we like self sufficiency, none of us wants to have no back-up. We, as a people, complain about the lack of cell connectivity when we are wilderness hiking. We want control, we want self sufficiency, and we want backup systems. Scheduling is going to be a big part of that.

I got involved with standards and with oBIX because I wanted to align the provision of building services with the support of the lives and business needs of their occupants. A floor that is air conditioned on a holiday is wasted. A classroom that provides insufficient ventilation for the over-large Tuesday Thursday 11:00 class does not support alert students; those same conditions in the classroom that afternoon unnecessarily increase college expenses. A clinic that has not finished heating by the time patients disrobe is a barrier to preventive health care.

All of the most critical issues in moving to electric vehicles are tied to scheduling. Electric cars must not only schedule charge based on energy availability, but they must support the mobility and variability of our daily lives. But more on this later.

Prospects for solving the scheduling problems, of collaborative energy improved at the conference. The Calendar Consortium ( committed to develop a schedule web service component, to be out for public review at year end. We plan to use this component in energy markets for prices and product descriptions. Representatives from financial standards groups (FIX, ISO20022) began conversations with CalConnect at the meeting. oBIX is looking to incorporate this standard into building system communications. CalConnect itself exists to align the personal end the enterprise calendar. We may soon have a shared understanding of schedule spanning, energy, finance, buildings, enterprise, and the individual.

Doing the right thing at the right place right time is at the center of developing notions of living the good life. These notions might soon include our things. And those cars and schedules — and the seasons of energy — they may have to wait until another post.

Article originally appeared on New Daedalus (
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