Dulles Electric Supply

Dulles Electric Supply "Walks the Walk" by Metering Own Facility with Product It Sells

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Proudly serving contractors, builders and homeowners for the past quarter century, Dulles Electric Supply (www.dulleselectric.com) of Sterling, Virginia, has sailed through various economic downturns over the years by providing the largest and most diverse inventory of lighting fixtures and electrical supplies in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area. "We earned our spurs the old-fashioned way," says General Manager John Milotte, "With great service and total dedication to our customers, who helped make all of this possible." Milotte, who has been with the company since it opened its doors in 1985, manages a sales staff that personally averages more than 15 years' experience in lighting design.

Dulles Electric-Where Lighting is Art

As one of the area's fastest growing, full-service electrical distributors and lighting supply houses, Dulles Electric (above) out grew it's original facility and, in early 2007, began designing a new building next door that would essentially double its existing space. In operation since fall 2009, the new 50,000 square-foot "green" facility includes a 5,000 square-foot electrical supply counter, a state-of-the-art 25,000 square-foot paperless warehouse and a 12,000 square-foot lighting design center that doubled the size of the company's old showroom. But while Dulles Electric is expanding the size and scope of its 22570 Shaw Road operation, it has simultaneously reduced its energy costs and environmental impact through a suite of green facility design features generally not found in multi-use structures of this type.

Designed and built by Hughes and Smith, Inc. of nearby Fairfax, the Class A building's green roofing materials, for example, provide an R-value (the measure of its resistance to heat) of 41.1-much higher than most conventional roof installations. The result-a projected 58 percent savings in energy costs and 4.6 tons less carbon emissions on an annualized basis-is also designed to accommodate future installation of a photovoltaic panel array for generating solar energy.

Other sustainable features include bio-filters for processing site run-off to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and low-Watt lighting and energy-efficient LED signage. Energy-saving air quality monitoring systems with advanced, energy-efficient HVAC units provide temperature monitoring and automated start-up and set-back control. Additionally, the units use EPA-recommended R-410 refrigerant instead of ozone-depleting R-22.

Submeters Help Facilities Go Green, and Stay There

Supplementing the building's designed-in green features are a few energy-saving systems of Dulles' own devise, including a motion sensing and time clock management control panel to conserve lights and wattage. At the enterprise level, it was decided to install a network of electric submeters to track the facility's demand (kW), consumption (kWh), power factor (PF), Amps and Volts in order to get a better handle on controlling peak demand and shedding load, particularly in the company's large commercial and industrial lighting showroom.

Dulles electric counter Dulles Electric's friendly electrical parts counter fronts a 25,000 square foot warehouse comprising about half the facility's total floor space. Electric submeters monitor the building's energy-intensive operations to ensure its kWh and demand profiles remain within parameters, along with providing useful building envelope diagnostic functions.
Dulles Electric Lighting Showroom At morning start up, Dulles Electric's new 12,000 square foot lighting design center was partially responsible for an electrical demand spike that was profiled by the facility's submetering system. Subsequent staggering of lighting and RTU start times allowed Dulles to dodge a large utility rate penalty.

When it came time to select the meters and have them installed, "Dulles chose Loudoun Electric based on our close vendor-supplier relationship that goes back many years," said Lee Piazza, president of Loudoun Electric Company of Sterling, Virginia (www.loudounelectric.com).

Now in it's 28th year of operation, Loudoun is consistently listed by the Washington Business Journal as one of the area's Top 25 Electrical Contractors. As such, Loudoun provides complete, turnkey electrical contracting services to commercial clients in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland. In addition to electrical service and maintenance, Loudoun offers expertise in energy management/green building systems, critical power systems, predictive, preventative and corrective electrical maintenance and electrical construction.

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As part of its energy management service offering, Loudoun provides submetering equipment sales and installation, as well as start up and commissioning. For the submeter system at Dulles, Loudoun recommended E-Mon of Langhorne, Pennsylvania (www.emon.com), a recognized leader in submeters and automatic meter reading (AMR) products and services. "The E-Mon D-Mons were purchased through us and, although we do offer these services, on this particular job Dulles Electric worked directly with E-Mon's folks on commissioning the system after we installed it," noted Loudoun's Lee Piazza. put in over a period of three days, the submetering system consists of 14 Class 3000 E-Mon D-Mon meters of various 277/480V configurations for monitoring 100A, 200A and 800A lighting, HVAC and other circuits throughout the facility./p>

Loudoun's Piazza noted that "Dana Hildebrand, our foreman, and Goff Ingram, project manager and director of construction, worked closely with the Dulles team to ensure all of their project milestones were met on time and that the unusually dense power requirements and diversity of light fixtures and advanced systems of a lighting showroom all came together without a hitch." Piazza also said the install went very smoothly and that he was very pleased to have been involved in the build-out of Dulles Electric's new showcase facility.

In operation for a year now, John Milotte is very satisfied with how the submeters are working. Early on, an unintended benefit surfaced. "Thanks to our submeters, we were able to identify a major spike caused by all the building and showroom lighting coming on at the same time each morning." When asked to quantify the potential in terms of cost, Milotte admitted that "It would have driven our demand factor up which would have resulted in a significant demand factor penalty on top of our standard usage. I'm not sure exactly what those numbers are, but you can figure it would have been at least a 15% increase."

With a $40,000 annual electric bill, such a demand penalty would have significantly impacted the facility's bottom line. As a result of the submeters identifying the condition, swift corrective action was taken in the form of adjusting the facility's timers to stagger the start times of the lighting and rooftop HVAC units.

Meter Dashboard Helps Sell Submeters

Web-Mon dashboard

Another interesting angle is how the Dulles sales force is promoting the hardware that their own building metering system employs. "We're using the Web-Mon meter dashboard as an effective sales tool to sell submetering products," said Milotte. "To promote the business, we use our own facility parameters to demonstrate the capabilities of Internet-based energy monitoring. "What better demonstration of the submetering system's capabilities, Milotte reasoned, than a real-time demo of an actual working facility. "It's an effective way to prove the value of submetering by showing how it all plays together in a real-world scenario," he said. Through Web-Mon, the data is tied into Dulles' internal network for monitoring from any local desktop.

Internet-based meter dashboards are gaining traction among facility personnel for making monitoring facility energy parameters easier than ever before, whether on site or from any Internet-accessible remote location. units like the Web-Mon meter dashboard from E-Mon can interface up to 24 metering points including electric, water, gas, steam, BTU meters and others. As shown, the E-Mon D-Mon Class 3000 submeters are daisy-chained to the Web-Mon via RS-485 daisy connection, providing a total possible line length of 4,000 feet if needed.

Webmon meter data

These devices require no programming or external software to provide a "dashboard" display of various realtime energy parameters alongside historic readings from the previous seven, 30 and 365 days. Simply entering the IP address of the device into any Internet browser brings up preconfigured graphical screen templates showing electrical consumption (kWh), peak demand (kWh), power factor, volts, amps by phase and more. A "carbon footprint dashboard," also standard, provides a one-page snapshot of any metered device or circuit in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions-while automatically displaying those levels in comparative terms of replacement forest growth needed, miles driven, gasoline used, etc.

Moving Forward

"We believe that over the course of time tenants will realize significant savings from being located in a green facility," said John Hughes, chief executive of Fairfax-based Hughes and Smith, Inc, builder of the 85,570 square-foot flex facility at 22570 Shaw Road. "So ultimately, we feel going green is good business for everybody." John Milotte, General Manager of Dulles Electric Supply, agrees. "In a market where foreign companies are buying more and more local electrical distributors, it feels great to be an independent, local distributor who can not only compete, but grow our business." As an anchor tenant in the new green facility, Dulles leases more than half the available space, a wise strategic move considering the possible need for future expansion in response to the burgeoning commercial sector growth in the greater D.C. metro area. The sustainability features built into Dulles' new facility contribute significantly to the company's profitability be ensuring optimal building performance, complemented by other measures like the submetering system that has already earned its spurs by revealing a potentially costly demand spike that would have resulted in a substantial utility rate increase.

Moving forward, Dulles Electric currently has no plans to apply for a rating under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), but if they should decide to do so at some point, the submetering system that Dulles already has on line will earn points toward LEED certification for measurement and verification, system optimization and other point requirements.

And, finally, speaking to the importance of the supplier-distributor relationship, Dulles Electric is proud of its 15-year track record as a stocking distributor of E-Mon D-Mon products. The confidence that Dulles has in this relationship is literally on display every day. Whenever a customer is in the market for meters backed by a reputation for reliability and services, Dulles sales people have only to walk the customer back to the facility's electrical room to show them how the meters operate in a real-word scenario. None of this is lost on the customer, who understands that there is no better testimonial than to see the distributor fully invested in the very products that they are promoting to their best customers.

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