People PowerProject Update

Video: AGU Building Design Feature – Direct Current Electrified Grid

By June 27, 2017 No Comments

Electricity is primarily transmitted from utility companies to homes and business by alternating current (AC), an efficient way for electricity to travel long distances. Some of our smaller devices though, like the ones AGU staff use at work each day – laptops, computer monitors, printers, phone chargers – run on direct current (DC). The conversion of energy from AC to DC requires a converter at the end of the electrical cord to bring the voltage down, which accounts for an energy efficiency loss of nearly 20 percent. The project team knew that this typical process would disrupt efforts for the pursuit of net zero. By installing 2-by-2 direct current (DC) electrified grid technology in the ceiling of the renovated headquarters, the conversion process will be obsolete – making the building more energy efficient and use DC power generated by the PV solar array on the penthouse.

Photograph of Nextek CEO pointing to and explaining the DC electrified grid

Members of the project team receive an in-person explanation of DC electrified grids from a Nextek employee. “There are larger implementations of DC lighting and control systems, but the team at AGU has pushed the DC power platform from top to bottom – all the way to everyone’s workstation in pursuit of a net zero energy consumption profile,” said Paul Savage, Nextek’s CEO (pictured on the right), whose Detroit-based company has been a pioneer in this technology.

Photograph of the DC electrified grid in the ceiling.

The project team gets a look behind the curtain of the DC electrified grid. “This [using DC electrified grids] means that the solar PV on the roof will not suffer conversion losses like regular solar PV installations. Moreover, most of the devices in the building will be able to use the sun’s power without conversion, too.” – Mr. Savage continued.

The project team is installing Nextek DC electrified grids, and recently made a trip to the Nextek plant in Detroit, MI to hear more about the technology, and, for some members of the team, see the product for the first time.

The project team’s own Roger Frechette, Interface Engineering Managing Principal, recently sat down with us to explain how the building will use the DC electricity directly: