Tag Archives: Building automation

Overlooked Low- and No-Cost Energy Effiicent Opportunities

What is an often overlooked low- or no-cost technique for saving energy in building systems?

Tenant engagement is a valuable tool to educate and get occupants on board with a building wide energy and sustainability program. How a space is designed and occupied plays a big role in the overall building energy performance, which is reflected in a building’s Energy Star rating. We are also working on Tenant Star, which will recognize energy efficient leased space and provide a voluntary platform to benchmark tenant spaces. Another building wide solution to consider are demand response programs which reduce peak energy demand through pre-cooling and load shedding and which are incentivized through many utility programs.

Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.

Source: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/energyefficiency/article/Overlooked-Low-and-NoCost-Energy-Effiicent-Opportunities–14996?source=part

Ensuring the Most Energy Efficient Equipment

How can facility managers make sure they’re getting the most energy efficiency out of new or upgraded building equipment?

Ongoing energy use measurement and diagnostics will help optimize energy performance and keep building systems operating smoothly. There are new building energy management applications which bridge between data collection to diagnostics, alerts, and work orders, but an excellent facilities manager is the key to success. It’s also a tremendous asset to have tenant billed for actual energy consumption. Sub-metering tenant spaces with easily accessible, simple energy reports allow both building owners and tenants to understand energy use and costs. This transparency makes it easier to keep things running as planned and adapt as necessary.

Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.

Source: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/energyefficiency/article/Ensuring-the-Most-Energy-Efficient-Equipment–14995?source=part

Big Strides in HVAC and Lighting Efficiency

There have been big strides made recently in efficiency in HVAC and lighting. What do you see as the next area that offers the potential for improved energy efficiency?

Tenant spaces typically account for 50-70 percent of a building’s overall energy use, and building owners who effectively engage with tenants to build out and operate energy efficient leased space will improve the building’s overall energy performance and comfort while both sides can benefit financially. Office equipment plug loads are the primary energy driver in leased space and managing these ‘phantom loads’ through outlet switches and computer energy management software can be cost effective strategies.

NRDC’s High Performance Tenant Demonstration Project is focused on energy use in leased commercial space, and the economic benefits of building owner and tenant collaboration, and the projects are realizing strong returns of 25 percent IRR and payback periods well under 5 years.

Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.

Getting Back On Energy Budget After a Rough Winter

Most of the country had a pretty rough winter, and that led to a lot of people going over their energy budget. What can facility managers do now that the weather’s improving to help make up for some of that spending?

Spring is an excellent time to take stock of a building’s annual utility expenses and map out an energy saving strategy, at an asset and portfolio level. A walk through energy audit, retro-commissioning, and project identification are steps which will help a facility manager understand how building systems interact and where the ripe targets for energy savings are. Reviewing the building’s sequence of operations, and making adjustments to schedules, temperature and flow rate set-points in HVAC equipment are easy opportunities. A comprehensive energy efficient lighting and plug load reduction projects are also cost effective ways to reduce energy waste in buildings.

Mild spring temperatures and longer daylight hours also offer good opportunities to make HVAC and lighting adjustments. Outside air economization and free cooling, as well as for variable frequency drives on HVAC equipment serve to reduce cooling energy, and this is the best time to use operable windows. Don’t forget to make sure that the heating systems are shut off and the appropriate controls are functioning so that steam or electricity is not wasted unnecessarily. Capturing natural daylight by raising shades and adjusting lighting controls and timers to take advantage of longer daylight hours is an easy energy saving strategy.

Source: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/energyefficiency/article/Getting-Back-On-Energy-Budget-After-a-Rough-Winter–14993?source=part

Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.

Tridium Broadens Market from Building Automation to the Internet of Things

DiCosmos makes DataEye announcement.

The senior leadership of Tridium laid out its strategic vision for the company to expand its presence in the Internet of Things this morning during the opening of the 2014 Niagara Summit in Las Vegas. While maintaining its commitment to its core market in commercial building automation, the Richmond, Va.-based technology firm outlined plans to move into adjacent markets involving building and infrastructure facilities such as data centers, industrial buildings and smart cities.

“We’ve been connecting devices from the very beginning. We were building the Internet of Things before it was even called the Internet of Things,” said Chief Technology Officer John Sublett in addressing the crowd of roughly 1,500 comprised of customers, re-sellers and other participants in the fast-growing Niagara ecosystem.

Tridium remains committed to building automation as its core market, said President Nino DiCosmo, as demonstrated by its development of the next-generation Niagara 4 framework. That upgrade, which should enter the Beta testing phase later this year and launch by the first quarter of 2015, will provide ease-of-use upgrades to bolster the productivity of developers and re-sellers, superior visualization and reporting tools, a new user interface and security enhancements.

Although Niagara has been deployed in settings outside of building automation, the company has never made a major push into adjacent markets like the one DiCosmo described. In a collaboration with Geist, a provider of power, cooling, monitoring and management solutions, Tridium is moving into the data-center market, which is expected to see a 12% compounded annual growth rate through 2016. Likewise, Tridium has targeted industrial buildings and smart cities.

Between the electric grid, parking lots, traffic management, water and waste-water utilities, the smart-cities market accounts for a market of roughly $6 billion a year and is forecast to grow 16% annually through 2016. Tridium’s position in commercial and industrial buildings — which interface with public power grids, utilities and transportation systems — makes the sector a logical extension.

Among major news announced this morning, DiCosmo said the company has acquired DataEye, a cloud-based analytics engine for improving energy efficiency; a “brand refresh,” that includes new logo, corporate colors, website and social media outreach; and plans to build a Niagara marketplace to promote solutions provided by all players in the Niagara marketplace as well as to enable companies to share chunks of software.

View original article here: http://www.niagarasummit.com/tridium-broadens-market-from-building-automation-to-the-internet-of-things

Using Smart Building Strategies To Meet Energy, Sustainability Goals

Executive summary: Many organizations are taking steps to make buildings more energy efficient and more sustainable. At the same time, many are implementing smart building measures. The results of a new survey of facility executives demonstrates that smart building measures are being used to improve energy and sustainability performance, and that those measures have in fact proven to boost performance in those areas. But a more strategic approach to smart buildings, combined with even wider use of smart building measures, represents an important opportunity for facility executives to drive further gains in energy efficiency and sustainability.

This white paper examines facility executives’ experiences with smart buildings and shows how smart building measures can enable other key organizational goals.

Topics addressed include:

  • Synergies between smart buildings, energy efficiency, and sustainability
  • Facility executives’ plans for smart building upgrades
  • Value of a broad-based team to develop smart building strategies
  • Role of people in smart building strategies
  • Integration as a key to a smart building strategy


Smart Building Strategies Can Help Reach Energy and Sustainability Targets

It’s a rare facility executive who doesn’t devote significant effort to improving energy efficiency or sustainability. These two issues are now priorities for many organizations. Increasingly, organizations are also seeing the benefits of implementing measures to make their buildings smarter. And as those smart building strategies have been implemented, experience has shown they are key enablers for meeting energy efficiency and sustainability goals.

The synergy among sustainability, energy efficiency, and smart building strategies suggests facility executives should address all three in combination, rather than each separately. For example, smart building strategies can help facility executives ensure good indoor environmental quality leading to occupant comfort, a key sustainability goal, while hitting energy efficiency targets. Indeed, smart building strategies should be seen as key ways to achieve energy efficiency and sustainability goals.

Today, however, the fact is many organizations have failed to take advantage of key smart building opportunities that can not only improve operational efficiency, but also reduce energy costs and buttress sustainability efforts. Many organizations have also failed to link smart building strategies with strategies for energy efficiency and sustainability. But the next few years should see a significant increase in the implementation of important smart building measures.

These are among the key findings of a survey of facility executives conducted by Siemens Industry, Inc., and Building Operating Management magazine, as well as discussions with facility executives and other experts in the field. That research points the way to the wider use of smart building technology to help achieve energy efficiency and sustainability objectives.

Smart Building Strategy Defined

Although there is no single, universally accepted definition of a smart building, widespread agreement exists about some of the key elements of the concept. A key part of the consensus is that smart building strategies improve the productivity of people and processes in buildings and lead to better decisions, based on actionable information, for improvements to the facility.

Technology is also critical. For example, smart buildings tap building automation systems (BAS), allowing facility executives to have the building’s core systems seamlessly integrated. And smart buildings often leverage advanced technology to make their properties as efficient and sustainable as possible.

A smart building strategy “works to ensure that a building can provide timely, integrated systems information to building owners, managers, and tenants so that they can make intelligent decisions regarding operations and maintenance,” explains Ronald J. Zimmer, president and CEO of the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA). This plan “evolves with changing user requirements and technology, ensuring continued and improved optimization,” Zimmer says.

Smart buildings are comfortable buildings for occupants. “Ideally, such a strategy leads to a building that uses both technology and process to create a facility that is safe, healthy, and comfortable and enables productivity and well-being for its occupants,” says Zimmer.

Tom Shircliff, co-founder of Intelligent Buildings, LLC, a real estate professional services company, points out that “strategy is about what is happening to you and what to do about it.” And what Shircliff sees happening involves material changes in building controls technology. Given that perspective, he says there should be three basic outcomes to a smart building strategy:

“1. The Hippocratic Oath: ‘First, do no harm’ when spending capital and operational budget money by avoiding proprietary solutions and disconnected building systems.

“2. Lower Cost Structure: Create a base strategy that lowers your overall and ongoing capital and operational cost structure. This aligns all planned projects and spending with a smart building strategy.

“3. Data-Driven Decisions: Move your organization to a data-driven decision making culture. Big data and the cloud have finally come to real estate, and there are millions of data points that can provide insights, risk reduction, and lower costs.”

Improving and Enabling

According to the Siemens/Building Operating Management survey, many organizations are taking steps to make their buildings smarter, more energy efficient, and more sustainable. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Which of the following improvement measures has your organization taken in the past three years? R=821

Lighting upgrades:83%

HVAC retrofits: 61%

Facility staff training: 52%

Water efficiency measures: 51%
Controls upgrades: 47%
Green cleaning: 45%
Integration for building systems: 39%
Automated monitoring and reporting: 37%
Retrocommissioning of building systems: 20%
Reflective roofing:18%
Renewable energy:17%
Automated optimization:15%
Automated fault detection & diagnostics: 14%
Dashboards: 12%
Continuous commissioning: 10%
Other: 3%

The top two items on the list are measures that often have a very rapid payback or are very low cost — not surprising, given the economic conditions of the past three years. But the survey indicates smart building elements have been under-deployed in comparison to how important facility executives say those elements are.

The survey asked whether a range of measures were important for achieving energy and sustainability goals. Sixty nine percent of respondents say “integration for building systems” is an important smart building strategy to meet energy and sustainability goals, yet only 39 percent of respondents report having implemented integration in the past three years. Similarly, 52 percent say “automated monitoring and reporting” is important, yet only 37 percent report having implemented it. A similar situation holds for “automated fault detection and diagnostics” (31 percent say it’s important but only 14 percent implemented it), “automated optimization” (30 percent vs. 15 percent), “continuous commissioning” (24 percent vs. 10 percent), and “dashboards” (21 percent vs. 12 percent).

One exception to this pattern: 54 percent of respondents call controls upgrades important and 47 percent say they performed controls upgrades in the past three years.

University Taps Smart Building, Water Strategies for LEED

Portland State University (PSU) earned LEED Gold certification for its Northwest Center for Engineering Science and Technology by tapping both smart building technologies and smart water strategies. The building features natural lighting, natural ventilation of its five-story atrium, a rainwater harvesting system that supplies water for toilets and urinals, and geothermal heating and cooling from underground springs.

The facility’s building automation system (BAS) controls geothermal water flow and the rainwater harvesting system’s water flow applications, as well as controlling the motorized operable windows and providing indoor air quality measurements. The BAS also is integrated with building systems for fan controls and shutdown operations for life safety.

Rainwater from the roof goes into a sediment tank to allow large particles to settle out. A sump pump transfers the untreated water from this tank into the storage tank. Water samples from the storage tank are pumped through a flow cell where the automated controller monitors and compares oxidation-reduction potential to a target setpoint, pumping in sodium hypochlorite as needed.

Two ultraviolet systems disinfect water as it is pumped to its usage points and as a sidestream treatment for the storage tank. During the rainwater system’s first eight weeks of operation, no city water was used for flushing toilets and urinals.

By combining smart energy and water efficiency technologies, PSU uses 45 percent less energy than Oregon code and nearly 40 percent less water than it did in the past, according to the university.

More here: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

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How Facility Managers Handle Occupant Complaints

Successfully confronting and resolving the complaints the facility management department is faced with on a daily basis falls in line with a quality management system (QMS) or “the whole plan, do, check, act cycle,” says Kit Tuveson, facility management consultant, Tuveson & Associates.

A key step in a QMS is gathering feedback. Facility managers can start by seeing what other departments within the larger organization might also be gathering employee feedback, so that the facility management department isn’t reinventing the wheel. “HR has employee surveys. IT has surveys,” Tuveson says. “There may be things going on that you can leverage and get support for.” He suggests starting small with some simple surveys vetted with occupants friendly to the facility management department.

Other resources to explore in creating a QMS are other facility managers and property managers, and educational modules from organizations such as BOMI and IFMA.

And, naturally, involve your in-house people and your vendors as well, he says. It is not likely that all the service providers touching the facility are going to align around a common QMS, so facility managers should establish some metrics that providers can report back on. And for any vendors who are not already doing QMS, make it a part of the specs and requirements going forward. “It’s not difficult but it might be complicated,” Tuveson says.

Contrary to a once popular perception, invisibility is not the hallmark of good facility management and will certainly not improve any situation around a complaint.

“The best facilities teams are out there engaging their customers, setting expectations, managing perceptions, and being really clear about what limits are, what affordability, processes and procedures are,” Tuveson says. “They don’t leave it up to the panoply of occupants to figure out for themselves because they will ask for the moon.”

FMs Minimize Time Spent on Complaints

68% of survey respondents said temperature was the single biggest complaint they receive from occupants, followed by restrooms (10%) and parking/grounds (5%).

How much of your department’s time is typically spent responding to occupant complaints or request every month? R = 317
Less than 25% 25% to less than 50% 50% or more
51% 33% 16%


What percentage of complaints or requests would you describe as purely subjective or frivolous? R=318
Less than 10% 10% to less than 25% 25% to less than 50% 50% or more
41% 38% 15% 6%


Filter Out Complaints With Work Order Systems

Have you had success with any of the following steps to minimize the time spent handling subjective or frivolous requests?

Complaints/Requests Very Successful Somewhat Successful Not Successful Not Tried
Automated work order systems R=135 48% 38% 4% 10%
Education of/ Communication with Occupants R=136 34% 62% 3% 1%
Training of Facility Staff R=134 43% 54% 2% 1%


Source for all: Building Operating Management Survey

America’s Funniest Building Occupant?

Readers shared their best complaint horror stories — and some that just made them chuckle. Every week we’ll post a new batch of stories at myfacilitiesnet.com/complaints so you can select a favorite. There’ll be space to share your story too. Here’s the first round.

User Error
“A professor complained about having no water in the building and complained all the way to the president of the college. Come to find out he had changed a faucet the evening before and never turned the water back on.”
“Director complained that locks and keys were not supplied/changed as requested. Mid level manager filed complaint, said lower level admin person had entered requests, and why was it not done. System showed that no requests were ever enteredExposed the weak link which was the person who said it was requested, who in fact didn’t ask for the work at all.”
“I’ve received multiple calls from different tenants regarding having no lights and when maintenance arrives all they needed to do was flip the light switch.”

Which one was your favorite? Vote at myfacilitiesnet.com/complaints