Three Steps To Successfully Integrating Systems In Existing Buildings

Three Steps To Successfully Integrating Systems In Existing Buildings: By Jim Sinopoli

Many existing building owners find the concept of systems integration persuasive, but they struggle with moving from the concept to actual deployment. Three steps can help achieve successful integration of systems in existing buildings.

1. Gather information about the capabilities and features of the existing systems.There is no such thing as having too much information and documentation about the building’s subsystems. By the end of a systems integration project the facility manager will have to know every system in detail; the sooner that is done, the faster the project will be completed. Information to be gathered includes as-built drawings, control drawings, points’ lists, model numbers, versions, system server locations, network architecture, energy data, a profile of past work orders, etc.

2. Identify opportunities for systems integration that will provide additional functionality and automation. Describe possible systems integration that can add functionality and detail the sequence of operations. Prioritize the recommended systems integrations. Here are four examples:

  • Off-hours system activation. Have the card access system trigger the activation of lighting and HVAC zones during off hours, based on reading and validating the card access information and then issuing override, enable, start/stop, or other commands to the lighting control and DDC system.
  • Demand response. Use a power monitoring and control system to provide data that could trigger demand or energy reduction sequences. For example, the building KW load data from the power monitoring and control system could trigger a reduction of lighting levels via the lighting control system, then issue commands to the DDC system to raise the space temperature setpoints for selected zones to reduce the cooling load, or turn off a selected piece of equipment to represent KW load reduction, or raise the chilled water discharge setpoint for reduced cooling load as an energy reduction sequence.
  • Shades, lighting, and HVAC. If a building has exterior shading, typical lighting controls, and a DDC system, there’s probably a need to optimize several variables within the systems. It’s really about controlling the penetration of sunlight. Too much sunlight may result in heat gain and trigger cooling from the HVAC system. Too little sunlight or daylight harvesting may result in greater use of the lighting system. The position of the shades affects thermal loads in the space via the amount of sunlight the shades let in as well as potential heat from the lighting system. At the same time there’s a need to use daylight harvesting. An integrated approach among the different systems can be used to control active and passive sources of heating, lighting shading, and ventilation via a preset sequence of operations.
  • Event management. Many large buildings or campuses have scores of meeting and conference rooms, and they manage the rooms via an event management scheduling system. If the scheduling system is integrated with HVAC, lighting, access control, and even the AV system, the integrated system can automatically set up the room prior to its scheduled use (turn on lights, unlock doors, change the HVAC set point, etc.) and based on occupancy sensors can return the room environment to its unoccupied state afterwards.

3. Integrate building system data into a database and link to other business systems and facility management systems. The most innovative building management systems read or write to data points in building control systems and create a database of enterprise system data. This allows one software platform and a human-machine interface to access a broader range of building data and more importantly improves the capability to analyze data. The use of analytic tools for building control systems (especially the HVAC system) has been shown to reduce energy consumption as well as to improve operations.

Building system data need to be integrated with the facility management applications for work orders, asset management, preventative maintenance, and more. Also, integrating this data into business systems such as accounting, budgeting, and purchasing enables the financial side of facility management.

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