The tax deduction offered in the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 thrilled many building owners. However, the legislation’s change to Daylight Savings Time (DST), effective in 2007, may have turned those gleeful feelings into dread. While it’s not exactly Y2K all over again, the change to “spring ahead” 3 weeks earlier and “fall back” 3 weeks later will undoubtedly cause problems with building equipment that is functioning on a time clock. In years past, clocks were moved ahead one hour on April 1 and moved back one hour on Oct. 28. The new dates are March 11 and Nov. 4.
This change will dramatically impact energy use in the 48 states where DST is observed (Hawaii and Arizona don’t participate). With longer periods of daylight available each evening, less artificial light (and the energy it consumes) will be used. The government estimates a savings of 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
Building owners and facilities professionals should prepare now for how this change could impact operations in buildings nationwide. According to Coopersburg, PA-based Lutron Electronics in a recent press release, “Since the spring change will occur 3 weeks earlier than in the past, lights in parking lots, stairwells, and other critical occupancy areas would come on 1 hour late until April 1, when the system makes its DST adjustment. On Oct. 28, the system will make its DST adjustment and turn lights off one hour early until Nov. 4.” Lighting systems won’t be the only equipment impacted.
Take a proactive approach and assess which building systems (e.g. security and building-management systems) will be affected. Washington, D.C.-based Lee Technologies, a full-service solutions provider of mission-critical data center infrastructure, offered the following warning on Jan. 31, 2007 on (www.datacenterjournal.com): "If facility systems were to lose synchronization with the new time standard, there could be a period of 1 to 3 weeks, twice a year, where they would be out of sync with the actual time of day,” says Bob Woolley, director of technical quality management for Lee Technologies. "We urge facility, data center, and IT managers to inventory their equipment to determine what systems need attention in order to develop a plan of action that will ensure a smooth transition when the time change takes effect on March 11, 2007.
In the same release, Lee Technologies identifies the following as possible outcomes resulting from the DST change:
- Building-management systems that rotate or automatically exercise equipment by time of day could perform tasks at unexpected times.
- Security systems that control access by time of day may inappropriately deny or allow access.
- Logs and time stamps could be incorrect. System events will be difficult to relate to one another.
- In rare cases, serious issues may result if events are performed out of sequence.