NEMA Members Go Big on Innovation

NEMA Members Go Big on Innovation

This piece was originally published in the June 2017 issue of electroindustry.

Image courtesy of Eaton

From iconic super buildings to reimagined shipping containers, trends in building systems increasingly embody analytics, connectivity, and energy-efficacy technologies.

Low-cost sensors, for example, are behind a new generation of connected technologies. Connectivity optimizes building systems through monitoring the signal strength of connected devices and detecting radio frequency interference by humans or animals. This creates a new type of occupancy sensor that can count building occupants during an emergency, locate intruders during a break-in, or monitor a nursing home for problems.

Given that as much as 40 percent of a new building’s energy efficiency is lost within three years from a lack of proper operation and maintenance, the combination of sensors, submetering, and computer processing power has given rise to building analytics that can identify faults and rapidly diagnose problems, thereby saving time, energy, and money.

In the following examples provided by NEMA member companies, we look inside building systems to see legacy products (e.g., contact switches), new technologies (e.g., sensors), and techniques (e.g., building analytics) that work together to achieve high performance and sustainability.

Boltswitch, Inc.

One World Trade Center
New York, New York

  • One World Trade Center design requirements specified bolted-pressure contact switches (UL 977 listed) for the high-ampacity service equipment and subsequent distribution boards.
  • At least 150 fusible switches have been supplied to World Trade Center projects so far.
  • Specifications were based on the switches’ history of quality, reliability, and ability to withstand numerous stressful situations.
  • Bolted-pressure contact switches allow for maximum power control in a minimum space while providing numerous options for construction and arrangement.
  • Applications include service entrance equipment, ground fault, and 200,000 ampere-withstand ratings.

Champion Fiberglass

Electrical Conduit and Strut Manufacturing Plant
Houston, Texas

  • Following a devastating fire in March 2016, the manufacturing facility rebuilt in record time—four months, versus the estimated six to nine months
  • The 100-percent digital facility increased capacity by 20 to 25 percent
  • Fire protection enhanced by state-of-the-art sprinkler with an automatic gas-fired generator and fire alarm systems with two-hour fire-rated walls between production areas and automatic roll-down doors that contain fire-activated closing mechanisms
  • Upgraded power system and advanced electrical infrastructure, compliant with the National Electrical Code®
  • Efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting
  • Real-time monitoring
  • ISO 9001:2008 certified, soon to be ISO 14001 certified

Delta Products Corporation

Delta Americas Headquarters
Fremont, California

  • LEED Platinum–certified facility
  • High-efficiency HVAC system includes ground source heat pump, bidirectional radiant heating and cooling, active chilled beams, and energy-saving variable-frequency drives
  • 12,000-gallon closed-loop system with 92 miles of plumbing reduces heating and cooling costs by as much as 60 percent
  • 616 kW rooftop solar system with 28 high-efficiency photovoltaic (PV) inverters and more than 2,400 PV panels that are expected to generate more than 1,000 MWh of electricity per year
  • 140,000-gallon rainwater harvesting tank collects water from rooftops and irrigates native and drought-tolerant plants, which reduces municipal potable water consumption by 100 percent
  • Energy management with building automation and real-time monitoring


Three Consultoría Medioambiental Corporate Office
Monterrey, Mexico

  • The environmental consultant’s corporate office is the first in Latin America and the second worldwide to obtain LEED Platinum BD+C v4 certification for new construction.
  • Lighting features linear LED suspended luminaires that support maximum energy savings while achieving desired light levels; solutions include surface-mounted downlights, track fixtures, and emergency lighting.
  • Daylighting controls maintain a constant level regardless of natural light.
  • LED wall packs illuminate the perimeter and parking lot to avoid light trespass with no uplighting.
  • Construction consisted of shipping containers that had reached the end of their useful life and the building’s orientation considered wind currents to better ventilate spaces.
  • The Three corporate office produces all the energy it consumes through solar panels.
  • Rainwater and air conditioning condensates are directed to water tanks.

Danfoss Drivers

Danfoss Drives Factory
Loves Park, Illinois

  • The LEED-certified Danfoss Drives factory manufactures fractional- through megawatt-variable frequency drives. The state-of-the-art building facilitates energy savings, prevents waste, and encourages innovation.
  • Variable-frequency drives that reduce airflow and water flow were installed on all pumps, motors, and rooftops.
  • Rooftop solar panels generate power that is used to produce Danfoss products.
  • The entire facility is operated with a building management system that controls and monitors all HVAC systems.
  • Installation of lighting controls on the production floor allows the facility to operate plant lighting based on production schedules.
  • Skylights installed in the manufacturing area reduce energy consumption and provide natural light for employees.

Legrand, North America

Legrand, North America Corporate Headquarters
West Hartford, Connecticut

  • Legrand, North America’s headquarters is located in a nearly 100-year-old facility and is pursuing LEED certification.
  • The company is continually retrofitting the building with energy-saving, efficient products, such as a digital lighting management system, LED lighting, and occupancy sensors.
  • A 500 kW, solid-oxide fuel cell system provides cleaner, more efficient power to its headquarters.
  • Daily, the fuel cell generates an average of 12,300 kWh of energy and provides at least 80 percent of the energy needed to power the 263,000 square-foot facility.
  • Since its installation in May 2016, the fuel cell has prevented 1,967,576 pounds of carbon emissions.

Light Engine America Inc.

Light Engine Industrial Complex
Huizhou, China

  • World-class, modern 130,000 square-meter manufacturing facility achieves TS16949, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001 certification.
  • The facility offers a wide-ranging, central building management system for energy saving optimization, full use of natural sunlight, and specialized systems to measure and monitor carbon levels.
  • State-of-the art light-emitting diode (LED) lighting provides 100 percent of the lighting.
  • An addressable fire and mass evacuation system employs LED fire devices, supplemented with bidirectional LED lighting and intelligent visual displays for optimal safety.
  • High-end category 6A and 7 and power-over-Ethernet wiring ensures optimal communication speeds.

Schneider Electric

The Edge
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

  • The Edge is the most sustainable building on earth, with a BREEAM-NL rating of 98.36 percent.
  • A net zero–energy building, the building produces 102 percent of its own energy.
  • No employee has filed a comfort complaint since the building opened.
  • The state-of-the-art building makes it extremely attractive to young talent.
  • Seventy-two percent of employees enjoy having a sense of control over their environment, enabled by a smart phone app.

Universal Lighting Technologies

Peña Station Next
Panasonic Technology & Business Solutions Center
Denver, Colorado

  • Networked lighting control uses centralized, decentralized, and Bluetooth® wireless technology for remote access and system monitoring.
  • Occupancy and daylight sensors save energy by optimizing levels based on time of day, occupancy, and natural light.
  • Digital user interfaces in conference rooms customizes light for presentations and meetings.
  • Color control LED technology fine tunes light as part of a human-centric lighting control strategy.
  • A solar+hybrid microgrid deploys a battery energy storage system that eliminates the need for backup generator.
  • A crowd comfort app uses QR codes to gain real-time feedback from occupants.
  • Highly efficient variable HVAC system reduces the building’s energy load.
  • State-of-the art network operation center monitors and manages a network of solar assets.

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