Behind the Scenes Activities Toward EV-Motoring

Experts agree that world is moving toward vehicles powered by electric motors (EV-Motoring). The transition will be long and gradual, taking decades. Regarding infrastructure, it’s a good thing that EVs aren’t prolific today, because the world presently isn’t ready for electric vehicles. Much work remains to be done.

For example, a standardized charging system for EVs does not yet exist. But an important initial step toward has taken place. In a move aimed at increasing the flexibility, efficiency and sustainability of buildings—something that will eventually impact electric vehicles—a group of forward-thinking companies announced the EMerge Alliance. The Alliance will lead the creation and deployment of a new power, control and device-level technology standard for commercial interiors. The kicker is that this standard will be developed around the use of safe, low-voltage direct-current (DC) power.

Founding Members of the Alliance at the Governing level include Armstrong World Industries, Johnson Controls (a company with a significant automotive division), Nextek Power Systems, OSRAM SYLVANIA and WAVE.

Participating Members include Crestron Electronics, Delta Power, Finelite, Kanepi Innovations, Lighting Science Group, Steelcase, WattStopper and Zumtobel. Eden Park Illumination is a General Member, and Supporting Members include AVP, Brinjac Engineering, CleanTech Commercialization, EdCampus, Green Plug, Houston Advanced Research Center, JB Electrical, Los Angeles Community College District, Paladino and Company, Sensor Switch, Southern California Edison and Webcor Builders.

The participation of these companies demonstrates the breadth of the alliance. While the focus of the cooperation currently focuses on DC-based overhead lighting systems and DC-powered electrical devices, there is a vehicular component. Buildings that can support DC power are more capable of charging DC-powered vehicles.

Additionally, most alternative energy sources (solar, wind, etc.) natively produce DC power. One of the EMerge Alliance’s founding companies is Nextek Power Systems. A Nextek product is the Power Bridge, an electrical power router of sorts that enables locally generated DC power to be used locally, without the inefficient DC-to-AC-to-DC conversion required when DC power enters and then returns from the main power grid. The benefit for EV-motoring is that Nextek’s Power Bridge will likely lead to efficient office- and home-based vehicle charging systems.

Building designers and owners increasingly have been seeking systems to make buildings more adaptable and integration of infrastructure, equipment and furnishings that can improve energy efficiency. Addressing these widespread needs for greater flexibility, efficiency, and sustainability is the focus of the EMerge Alliance, according to Alliance Chairman Brian Patterson of Armstrong World Industries. “While the ways in which we use electricity have changed dramatically, the manner in which electricity is distributed for interior devices and control purposes remains largely unchanged since the beginning of the 20th century,” said Patterson. “The EMerge Alliance is drawing from a broad and deep pool of leaders involved in the design, construction, and management of commercial buildings to create an enabling infrastructure that future proofs the workplace through the use of DC power.”

In the coming years, this consortium will change and grow, but it’s existence recognizes inexorable movement toward greener buildings that will interface with greener cars.