Dale Lucas

Dale Lucas

Dale Lucas is the Manager of Plant Operations at Lorain County Community College. He earned a Mechanical Engineering Degree from Cleveland State University and specializes in Facilities Administration, Energy Management, and Sustainability.

Technology is Not Enough

Posted by Dale Lucas on August 23, 2012 in Energy Matters

How much can we rely on technological advances to solve our energy problems?  Some new technologies have the potential to be a powerful way to save energy.  For example, automating HVAC systems and enhancing their digital control capabilities has saved lots of energy and money in buildings. However, many technologies -- including these -- require some level of human intervention to fully benefit from them. If people don’t use the technology properly, the expected benefits will not be realized.

The most important people are those who directly manage the new technology:  building operators, facilities staff, etc. If they are given a new system, but not taught how to use it, the system will not work properly.  I have witnessed this first hand during a recent installation of an automated and digitized HVAC system at a local institution. The Operations & Maintenance Staff didn’t have the required knowledge and experience to operate and maintain the new technology, and the system underperformed.  Also, too many staff members had the ability to change system operating parameters without a full understanding of how these changes would impact the operation. There was also reluctance from a few staff members to actually experiment and optimize the new technology. Eventually this harmed the equipment energy performance.

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Dale Lucas
Dale Lucas is the Manager of Plant Operations at Lorain County Community College
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