Tag Archives: Building management system

5 Ways Going Green is Great for Buildings

A recent study of facility management executives found that 5 percent had certified a green building before 2012, but that 29 percent plan to certify one in 2013. That growth in the market for green buildings will ripple through the industry. Over the next ten years, buildings will become more grid-responsive, resilient, efficient, energy-positive and networked.

Grid Responsiveness
A survey indicted that 14 percent of U.S. building organizations currently participate in demand response programs. Building energy consumption can be continuously adjusted throughout the day to reduce demand at critical times.

Resilient
To withstand natural disasters, there is an important role for distributed energy systems and smart building controls.

“The new approach would define policies and technical requirements for how to incorporate smart grid technology, microgrids, building controls and distributed generation, including CHP, with two-way flow networks into the grid. … This approach would allow building controls to provide a minimal level of service such as basic lights and refrigeration during emergencies,” the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding strategy noted.

Efficient
Building efficiency improvements in lighting, HVAC and controls are the most popular improvements and more than two-thirds of organizations have addressed these in the past year.

Energy-Positive
There is a growing trend in building design to go net zero or energy positive. In fact, California has included net zero as an energy goal for 2030 for commercial buildings. The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Army have also set energy-positive goals.

Networked
Smart buildings provide data and information needed to measure, monitor and manage building performance.

View Full Article in: Rocky Mountain Institute

Focus On Building Core, Common Areas To Sell Owners On LEED-EBOM In Multi-Tenant Facilities

When starting a LEED-EBOM project in a multi-tenant facility, focusing on the core areas of the building offers opportunities to building owners. First is the obvious monetary benefit to the building owner through things like more efficient lighting in common areas, more water-efficient landscaping and starting the building later and shutting it down earlier, if possible. Second, LEED certification is certainly a nice selling point for a building, especially as sustainability becomes a more regular requirement for companies looking to lease space.

Another benefit is the ability to turn the situation around: If the building is sustainable on its own, then when tenants are looking to do their own LEED projects, the building can help them achieve certification.

“In many instances, we’re finding that our buildings provide upwards of three-quarters of the points necessary for a tenant to reach or achieve a base-level LEED certification for their office space,” says Jay Black, director of sustainability, SL Green.

Black’s team has done base building projects as part of LEED-EBOM initiatives. When SL Green was pursuing Gold certification for one of its buildings in White Plains, N.Y., Heineken USA, one of the building’s major tenants, was looking into renovating its space at about the same time.

“Because of our discussions with them about our pursuit of the LEED certification,” Black says, “we were able to work with them to help offer information as they were redeveloping their space that also convinced them to say, ‘We’re going to go after a LEED certification for our own commercial interior office space.'”

As it turns out, Heineken’s project ended up qualifying for Gold certification itself, in large part due to the extra points earned from the base building being Gold certified.

By: Casey Laughman, Managing Editor: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

Building Information Helps Drive High-Performance Operations

When it comes to high-performance operations, one of the first places to start is with building information. This information can help drive better operations and better building performance.

As demonstrated in a recent energy management study conducted by the NRDC at three buildings owned and operated by The Tower Companies — a real estate development and management firm in Washington, D.C. — those smarter approaches at the core of the BOMI International High-Performance Program (see “BOMI’s High-Performance Program” on this page.) can produce tangible, sustainable results. The study showed how a better-informed building operations team could work together to provide actionable recommendations that optimize energy use.

The initiative, which involved three large, multitenant commercial buildings Tower owns and operates in Washington, D.C., focused on operational improvements — measures that do not require construction, disruption to occupied buildings, or substantial capital investment. The goal was to discover what could be gained by a closer examination of the building automation systems in real time. What resulted, as detailed in a recent case study released by NRDC, was a model for building owners, tenants, efficiency programs, and others to conduct their own energy management initiative.

Two outside firms were brought in to help analyze the buildings’ automated systems, pinpoint problems, and recommend fixes and improvements. Note Phillip Henderson and Meg Waltner, authors of the study, “The three buildings in this case study were high-performing buildings before the energy management initiative began — the buildings had high Energy Star scores and were good facilities.”

In fact, 1707 L Street had an Energy Star score of 71, 1828 L Street had a score of 78, and 1909 K Street had a score of 86 in September 2011. Yet, at the end of the study period, the scores for all three buildings had improved substantially — to 91, 87, and 88, respectively. The fact that these already high-performing buildings realized substantial savings during the initial 12-month study period suggests that even greater gains can be achieved in typical buildings. In fact the buildings have continued maintain and even improve performance as Tower approaches the end of the second year of this initiative.

What the building operations team realized through the analysis and improvements was significant electricity savings: 23 percent in 1707 L Street, 7 percent in 1828 L Street, and 17 percent in 1909 K Street. Electricity use was reduced by 13 percent across all three buildings during the study period. The reduction in electricity expenses averaged $72,901 per building ($218,703 across all three buildings) in 2012.

A key element of the initiative was detecting and correcting operational stray. When a building is well managed, there’s an assumption that stray is not happening. But, as the study revealed, in even the best-managed buildings, building systems stray from optimal; Tower’s initiative showed how better information can minimize stray and reveal it quickly. For example, the review of electricity use in 1909 K Street uncovered an unusual pattern. Both of the building’s chillers were cycling on for a few minutes at a time, then shutting off. The building engineer was alerted and, working together, the team found and corrected faulty variable air volume controls that were signaling the chiller to turn on even though the building management system called for the chiller to remain off. Write Henderson and Waltner, “While this problem might have been discovered eventually without the comprehensive energy-use analysis, it could have continued undetected for months. This delay would have resulted in wasted energy, wear and tear on the building equipment, and possible disruption to tenants when equipment failed.”

At the same time, recommendations were made to implement best practices, such as regularly auditing controls to confirm that the temperature deadband is set at 4 degrees. This means the HVAC system would cool the building to, say, 72 degrees, then remain off until the temperature rose to 76 degrees. A larger deadband allows the HVAC system to remain off while the building is in the “comfort zone,” resulting in energy savings and reduced wear and tear on equipment.

Another important element of Tower’s initiative was creating a detailed alarm service for building systems. Procedures were established to remotely monitor certain system settings, such as chilled water temperature, and to send messages to the building engineer if system conditions were outside defined parameters.

The total cost of the project for the three buildings was $144,320, and the electricity use savings was $218,703. And because the costs in 2012 included the installation of the new systems and procedures, the annual operating cost to achieve those same electricity savings going forward will be significantly lower: $65,520. The assumption that these improvements are expensive to implement was refuted by the study’s conclusion that they can be a profitable venture for the owner or operator.

Article By: David Borchardt

Electronic Design Europe News Brand Building A Path To Better Building Efficiency

Europe’s energy-inefficient buildings consume 40% of available energy. Lighting, air-conditioning, and heating are the main culprits.

Buildings in Europe devour a prodigious 40% of total available end-user energy (see figure above). Obviously, curtailing that inefficiency becomes imperative, particularly in light of the European Union’s (EU) goals to reduce CO2 emissions by 20%, improve energy efficiency by 20% and achieve 20% renewable power generation by 2020.

One of the EU’s prime strategies toward achieving these environmental ambitions involves the use of information and communications technology (ICT). It believes ICT will be able to facilitate a “whole building approach” in design and building operation through simulation, modeling, analysis, monitoring, and visualization tools. ICT also can play essential roles in simplifying the implementation of energy policies, and in measuring their effectiveness.

To support this course of action, the EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings was instituted to provide a methodology that calculates the energy performance of buildings. If successfully implemented, the data provided would assist in identifying common inefficiencies, best practices, and opportunities to improve energy usage.

Such a meritorious stance from the European Commission must be applauded. However, these proposals will only develop into pragmatic reality by enlisting expertise from the electronics industry.

With this in mind, 26 industry companies from five European countries will partner over a three-year period in what is hoped will be trailblazing research on environmental sensors and sensor networks. The mission is to develop energy-efficient solutions aimed at cutting power usage in buildings.

The “Environmental Sensors for Energy Efficiency” (ESEE) project is led by German chipmaker Infineon Technologies and supported by the EU through its European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC) Joint Undertaking, as well as by national and regional funding of the participating nations. Among others, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports the ESEE project under its “Information and Communication Technology 2020” program.

Essential Component

An essential element within modern building-management systems is a sensor-system network. Unsurprisingly, the focus of the ESEE project is to create new low-power connected sensor systems based on semiconductors and heterogeneous 3D integration.ESEE plans to target applications that require extremely reliable information about environmental conditions to identify measures that will help reduce energy consumption. When combined with solutions for air-quality management, the project believes the potential to inner-building energy savings could go beyond 30%.

All of this sits very comfortably with the European Commission’s Europe 2020 initiative to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency. One key enabler, though, surrounds the development, design, and manufacture of sensor- and energy-management systems in Europe at competitive costs.

The ESEE project is timed to conclude in March 2016. It will be interesting to see what technological progress is made, considering sensors and controls continue to be profoundly overlooked despite the critical roles they play in building energy management.

In addition to the environmental imperative to minimize energy use, there’s considerable financial incentive to develop building control networks that fully exploit interconnected sensor-based systems. Industry analysts suggest the sensors market in the U.S. and Europe is set to grow nearly 20% annually from now until 2020. In value terms, the U.S. market would be worth $2.14 billion by that time, while the Europe sector would reach $1.93 billion.

Lux Research’s recent report “Sensors and Controls for Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS): Providing the Neural Network to Net-Zero Energy” sheds another light. It indicates that key to sensor sector growth will be a profusion of advanced non-invasive, cost-effective, and quick-to-install sensor and control technologies that can overcome existing cost constraints.

It is certainly true that wireless-based, energy-harvesting, network-enabled sensors, switches, and associated media technologies will lower installation costs.

In summary, it appears that the overall environmental prospects look positive in terms of more efficient building consumption. More so when taking into account those companies involved in the research and development of capable sensor control networks are fueled by the dual incentives of reducing global emissions and substantial commercial reward.

Article By:  | Electronic Design Europe News Brand

Singapore Takes the Lead In Green Building in Asia

Singapore's Parkroyal on Pickering hotel displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system, its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high-performance window glass and hot water pumps. (Photo credit: Patrick Bingham Hall)

Singapore’s Parkroyal on Pickering hotel displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system, its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high-performance window glass and hot water pumps. (Photo credit: Patrick Bingham Hall)

 

Singapore Takes the Lead
In Green Building in Asia

By encouraging the adoption of innovative architectural design and energy-saving technologies, Singapore has emerged as a model of green building in Asia — an important development in a region that is urbanizing more rapidly than any other in the world.

by mike ives

At street level, 313@somerset looks like any other glittering mall in downtown Singapore. But on closer inspection the eight-story building has skylights, solar panels, energy-saving elevators and escalators, highly efficient air-conditioning units, and software that monitors the building’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Across town, a new hotel, Parkroyal on Pickering, displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system,  its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high- performance window glass and hot water pumps. Entering the wood-paneled lobby, which has a wall of tropical mosses, a visitor is reminded of a rainforest — no matter that the building lies in the heart of the banking capital of Southeast Asia.

These structures underscore Singapore’s commitment to greening its built environment through generous incentive schemes and a building-rating tool that encourages such improvements as sun-shading exteriors, water-efficient fittings, computer modeling of energy flows and carbon emissions, and highly efficient air conditioning and ventilation systems. Since the rating tool launched in 2005, Singapore’sBuilding and Construction Authority (BCA) has certified 1,534 new buildings and 215 pre-existing ones. Together they account for more than a fifth of gross floor area in this island city-state, which has a population of five million and is roughly half the size of New York City.

“As we become more and more urbanized, we want to make sure our built environment is sustainable,” says John Keung, the BCA’s chief executive.

There is wide agreement among development specialists that promoting green building in Asia has the potential to produce large energy savings and make polluted cities more habitable while partially mitigating the impacts of global warming. The United Nations reports that 40 percent of people in the Asia-Pacific region already live in cities, and by 2050 the figure could reach two thirds. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that in the coming decades Asian countries will lead increases across the developing world in building-sector emissions from energy use. In China alone, according to the global consultancy McKinsey & Company, the urban population may expand from 572 million in 2005 to 926 million by 2025, requiring the construction of four to five million new buildings.

Against this backdrop, Singapore has emerged as a model of green building for planners and developers across much of the Asia-Pacific region, where poor design reigns and developers have historically seen little incentive to invest in sustainability, according to Asia-based architects and sustainability experts. Singapore’s BCA is now marketing its rating tool,Green Mark, as a brand in Southeast Asia, China, and parts of tropical Africa — even in countries, such as neighboring Malaysia, where local rating tools offer competing certification systems. Some consultants say the rise of Green Mark is a direct challenge to LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, the rating tool of the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED also is expanding in Asia.

In the fight to reduce carbon emissions, the economic boom in Asia underscores the importance — and the limits — of reducing energy use in commercial and residential buildings. Even with Singapore’s aggressive push in the green building sector, non-industrial electricity consumption in Singapore increased by roughly 23 percent between from 2005 to 2011. That growth was due largely to robust economic expansion, with Singapore’s GDP doubling during that time. The government aims to achieve a 35 percent reduction in the energy intensity of its economy by 2030, which — depending on the rate of economic growth — does not necessarily mean the city-state will be using less electricity overall by that date.

The phrase “green building” suggests basic universal characteristics, such as an attention to energy use and attempts to bring a building in tune with its environment. However, it is also a somewhat fluid concept, and certifiers define green buildings differently in Singapore than in the United States or Europe. Notably, Green Mark places a comparatively larger emphasis on installation of technologically intensive cooling units, arguing that reducing energy consumption is essential in a tropical city where air-conditioning represents a large part of electricity demand. But some experts wonder if Singapore’s approach will eventually encourage an unsustainable dependence on air conditioning as an essential design component. Country-specific rating tools under development in Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries, they say, may be more effective at promoting vernacular designs that emphasize passive technologies — such as optimization of shading and ventilation — and a sensitivity to a building’s carbon life cycle.

“Ultimately the goal in these tools is to reduce the (environmental) footprint,” says Deo Prasad, a professor of architecture at the University of New South Wales in Australia who has studied sustainable building policies across the Asia-Pacific region. As Green Mark matures, he adds, an open question for Singapore is: “Are you getting hooked into the energy consumption being absolutely necessary for comfort?”

Singapore, which gained independence from Malaysia in 1965, has long styled itself as a “garden city.” The city-state was built on swampland that has few energy resources, and its founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, made a point of prioritizing environmental conservation. In 2005, the government extended its hands-on urban development policies to its building sector. The centerpiece of that policy shift was Green Mark, a rating tool modeled partly on LEED guidelines. But unlike LEED, which emerged in the private sector and is based on a flexible set of sustainable design principles, Green Mark was launched by a government agency and designed largely to reduce energy and water consumption.

The BCA markets Green Mark as a win-win for businesses and the environment. A recent study by the government and researchers at the National University of Singapore found that a sample of office buildings designed to meet Green Mark standards shaved about 11.6 percent off total operating expenses on average while boosting a building’s capital value by 2.3 percent. The BCA also reports that while new Green Mark buildings typically cost up to five percent more, most developers recoup their initial investment within seven years through energy savings. It helps that in 2009 the agency pledged 100 million Singapore dollars, or about $80 million, to landlords over five years to pay for efficiency audits and install energy-efficient cooling units, motion sensors, and shading devices.

Singapore-based CapitaLand, Southeast Asia’s largest developer, says investments in green-building technologies have played a central role in reductions since 2008 of 11.7 and 16.1 percent, respectively, in the company’s energy and water consumption, and a 16 percent reduction in its carbon emissions — all for a savings of about $28 million. “Our sustainability objectives are guided by the belief that lowering the environmental footprint of our developments through innovation creates value for our stakeholders,” says Tan Seng Chai, CapitaLand’s group chief corporate officer.

The BCA says it plans to certify 80 percent of the city’s buildings by 2030, and several consultants say the goal is realistic. However, the BCA has struggled to incentivize efficiency upgrades in existing buildings, and Green Mark’s success may slow when its five-year incentive scheme for those buildings ends next year, according to Ng Eng Kiong, president of the Singapore Green Building Council, a consortium of 450 building professionals and suppliers of green products and services.

Mark-certified buildings now exist in Asia and Africa, according to the BCA’s John Keung. Officers at four green building associations across Southeast Asia say Green Mark’s success has partially influenced how they developed their local rating tools. “In Singapore everything is driven by the economy,” Ng says, and a future economic downturn as serious as the 2008 financial crisis could potentially reverse some of Singapore’s green-building gains. The BCA reports that some of the city-state’s older buildings have a lifespan of just 10 to 15 years — a fact that could further deter long-term investments in sustainability.

Energy consultants say Singapore, which sits on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, has lately emerged as a testing ground for ventilation and air-conditioning technologies that Western and Asian manufacturers plan to sell in China and the rest of Asia. Green Mark’s success, the consultants add, is also a boon for some local businesses and an encouraging example for neighboring countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam, that are just beginning to green their building sectors. More than 400 Green Mark-certified buildings now exist in Asia and Africa, according to the BCA’s John Keung. Officers at four green building associations across Southeast Asia say Green Mark’s success has partially influenced how they developed their local rating tools.

However, Green Mark is a system designed exclusively for a prosperous urban metropolis, and it may not be directly applicable in countries with different political systems, environmental conditions, and standards of living, say green-building experts. “So if you have a house made out of bamboo, it may be the greenest house ever, but using that particular rating tool, you can’t get certified,” explains Ar Sarly Adre Sarkum, vice president of the Malaysia Green Building Confederation. With this in mind, a few rating tools have emerged in recent years that attempt to capture country-specific nuances. For example, a new tool in Indonesia pays more attention to a developer’s choice of building materials, many of which are typically sourced from within the country.

Sustainability experts say that for the moment it is too early to tell how these local tools will fare, and their success will depend partly on the degree to which local governments offer related incentives to developers. Muiz Murad, CEO of Green Earth Design Solution, an environmental consultancy in Kuala Lumpur, says that in all likelihood there will be a healthy coexistence, with a few developers choosing to certify through both a local and an outside rating system. Green Mark is currently very popular in Brunei, he adds, but in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, the international rating tool of choice is LEED. That, he says, is largely because multinational corporations have internal policies that require them to choose LEED.

 

St. John’s Makes Energy Upgrades To 36 Buildings, Installs Building Automation System

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems.

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems.

State ARRA-funded C&I grant helps fund building retrofit: St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, is constantly seeking ways to improve its infrastructure in the most cost-effective ways. And when the stimulus-funded Commercial and Industrial Grant Program from the Minnesota Department of Commerce came along, it made energy efficiency easy.

St. John’s Hospital received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems. The grant, combined with other energy improvements financed by the St. Paul Port Authority and the Trillion Btu Program, will save St. John’s about $200,000 per year in energy costs. Simple payback for the $1 million project is about five years.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our infrastructure—to improve clinical quality, increase efficiency, reduce risk, and improve safety,” said Jed Field, system director of engineering for HealthEast Care System. “The state grant allowed us to take the extra step or two from an energy-efficiency perspective to achieve the maximum energy savings for our buildings.”

Field said the grant was perfect timing for several large-scale improvements the hospital needed. The work, completed in 2011, included operational improvements and control of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems to attain maximum energy performance. New NEMA premium efficiency motors were installed to replace all non-NEMA premium motors 10 HP or larger. The new building automation system was implemented so that equipment can be turned down or turned off when the spaces served are unoccupied. Equipment adjustments were made and special pump controls and valves were installed for precise control to meet heating and cooling needs.

The energy upgrade work on St. John’s Hospital not only reduces energy costs, it improved the indoor air quality and comfort for patients and staff. It also generated work for at least two full-time equivalent jobs for one year, Field added.

Field said virtually any commercial or industrial facility that is 20 years or older figures to save 20 percent on their energy bill if they make significant energy upgrades. “There are great opportunities for retrofitting buildings,” Field added.

36 facilities realize energy efficiency, cost savings: St. John’s is just one of dozens of commercial, industrial and nonprofit facilities throughout Minnesota that are realizing handsome energy and cost savings, thanks in part to the $4.1 million energy upgrade grant program administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. The grants, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), supported cost-effective energy efficiency improvements at 36 facilities in Minnesota.

Those 36 facilities will realize more than $3 million in ongoing energy savings every year for the foreseeable future, said Mike Rothman, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “This targeted investment of one-time funds will pay for itself over and over again,” said Rothman. “It has helped dozens of facilities dramatically reduce their energy consumption and realize millions of dollars in ongoing cost savings. That’s good for business, good for our environment, and good for our economy.

“Commercial buildings and industrial facilities like St. John’s Hospital consume about half of our state’s energy,” Rothman continued. “That’s why it makes sense to target large buildings like these. Targeted retrofits using one-time investments deliver the biggest bang for our buck.”

The program, which launched in December 2009, received 150 proposals out of which 39 were selected to receive grants. Most of the grants—36—were awarded for direct energy improvement projects, and three were given to nonprofit entities to operate revolving loan programs to help finance energy efficiency projects. For the direct improvement projects, the program required a financial match component. Projects were ranked according to projected energy savings, payback, leveraged additional spending per grant dollar, and job labor hours of work generated by the funding.

Average payback of four years: The grantees included a wide cross section of for-profit and nonprofit entities. Energy efficiency measures achieved included upgrades to lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and controls and improvements to industrial processes. Overall, the projects will save an estimated 440,000 MMBtu per year, or enough energy to heat 8,150 homes per year, and will have an average payback of four years. The projects helped create or sustain more than 25 full-time equivalent jobs.

The Chippewa Valley Ethanol Plant in Benson used its grant to improve the process to recover waste heat from a stream of hot exhaust gases discharged from a regenerative thermal oxidizer. The process captures heat that normally would be exhausted into the atmosphere, runs it through a heat exchanger, and then uses it to avoid burning natural gas to produce heat needed for other parts of the ethanol production process. Chippewa Valley received a $500,000 grant to help fund the $2 million project. With estimated savings of $700,000 in natural gas costs per year, the project will pay for itself in about three years.

Gerdau Ameristeel U.S. Inc. of Duluth replaced two 30-year-old 900 kW power supplies with two new energy efficient 1,125 kW power supplies. The power is used to heat steel bar stock which is cut and forged into steel balls varying in size from 1 inch to 6 inches in diameter. The steel balls produced from the operation are used extensively in the taconite mining industry of Minnesota as well as other ore processing operations globally. The $1.5 million project, which received a $95,000 grant, is projected to reduce Gerdau’s energy consumption by 7 percent and save about $50,000 per year.

Other companies to benefit from the state energy grant program included 3M Company, Aeon, Aitkin Iron Works, Arrowhead Promotion and Fulfillment Company Inc., Caledonia Care and Rehab, Cambria Company LLC, Center for Energy and Environment, City Center Retail/AG 800 Washington LLC, City of Minneapolis CPED, Coastal Seafoods, Community Reinvestment Fund, Davisco Foods International Inc., Douglas Machine Inc., Earl Brown Tower LLP, Fairview Health Services (Maple Grove), FourCrown Inc. (Wendy’s), Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota, Honeywell, J&B Group Inc., Le Sueur Inc., LifeCare Medical Center, Mall of America, National Sports Center Foundation, North Memorial Health Care (Maple Grove), Northern Plains Dairy, Pequot Tool & Mfg. Inc., Prospect Foundry LLC, Resource Inc., Rolco Inc., Seagate Technology LLC, Spruce Tree Center LLP, SuperValu Inc., Walker Art Center, Wausau Paper Mills LLC, YMCA of Greater St. Paul, and YWCA of Minneapolis.

To learn more: For more information from the Division of Energy Resources, visit the efficiency section of our website. Incentives for businesses and residences to perform energy efficiency upgrades are listed in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

This case study was created by the Minnesota Division of Energy Resources, Department of Commerce. Click here to see other success storie
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/25/st-johns-makes-energy-upgrades-to-36-buildings-installs-building-automation-system/#3bHxrAkedzI3Xij6.99

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems.

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems.

Can Building Automation Really Save Money?

Question: Can my building automation system help cut down my utility bill?
Answer: Building automation is a control method for the mechanical systems within your building. You may not have new equipment or VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives) on every motor, but there are likely still savings that you could drive with a new automation system.

Take for example a small office building with constant volume package units. What could you possibly get for energy savings in this environment? Fan energy, or the energy used to blow air out of the grill in your office, comprises almost 70% of the energy consumption in a building. By controlling the fans more tightly with a schedule you can save up to 15% on your bill every year. To take it one step further, by increasing cooling and decreasing heating setpoints during peak usage hours you can alleviate 5-10% consumption; all with minimal impact to your workforce. That’s up to 20-25% reduction without any mechanical upgrades.

Question: What if I’m tired of my current controls vendor? How hard is it to switch vendors?

Answer: Although any vendor exchange within a site will come at an expense, you can minimize it with the right strategy. Historically, building automation systems have been proprietary to single or sometimes multiple vendors in a given territory. If you didn’t like your vendor, you’d have to strip out all the equipment at your site and start over (an expense typically in the six-figure range for most facilities.)

Now, control systems like Tridium can integrate your old equipment and prevent proprietizing your site to a single contractor. Integrations like this not only open the market to competitive bidding, but can cut integration costs as much as 40-50% versus the traditional strip-and-replace mentality.

Remember, switching vendors in most cases doesn’t simply mean bringing in any contractor and having them work on your current system. Controls vendors may be able to work on a few different systems, but accessing the software necessary to program your facilities’ system may be impossible due to its proprietary nature.

Question: My controls vendor said I need to upgrade my system to make it faster. Is that necessary?

Answer: The unfortunate part about technological advancements in everyday use, through handhelds and cellphones, is they’ve taught us that speed is everything. Faster computers mean increased productivity. Faster Internet means quicker loading times while surfing. But is speed a necessity of building automation? After all, it is part of the technology boom.

Speed in automation is only critical when considering industrial applications. Industrial PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) need to compute information twice as fast to make sure control of variables like temperature and pressure fall within industry standards. These controllers are extremely costly in comparison to a commercial application that is only concerned with occupant comfort.

If you’ve ever watched a temperature increase in an occupied space you could easily compare it to grass growing. Unless a space is overwhelmed with occupants, the fluctuation of temperature is extremely gradual; thereby decreasing the necessity of faster control capability. Basically, speed is not conducive to a properly controlled commercial application and is not a valid reason to spend tens of thousands of dollars for an upgrade.

Question:  How long can I expect my control system to last?

Answer:  Control systems have historically lasted for 10-15 years on average when considering mid to late 90’s installations. Unfortunately, with the pace of technology, your physical controls equipment is likely to outlast the associated software support for the installed product line. Now you are dependent upon the manufacturer to support the product line for up to fifteen years which is highly unlikely.

Take for example the cases of Apple and Microsoft. Windows XP was released in 2001 and remained the staple of Windows operating systems for around 11 years. Many companies are being forced to upgrade now to the new Windows 8 plaftform with the lack of support from Microsoft. The new Windows doesn’t support older hardware and, therefore, companies all over the world are having to upgrade their machines to match the new software.

When considering Apple, think back to the days of the iPhone 3G and when it was released in 2008. By 2011, the last version of Apple Updates was released for the 3G iPhone essentially guaranteeing its hardware obsolescence by 2012 – only 4 years later.

No technology, including building automation, can ever expect to embody the longevity assumed in the 90’s. With the quickened pace of high-tech advancement all owners can hope for is hardware manufacturers that can manage revisioning for at least 5-7 years.

Question:  My vendor said they needed to replace all the wiring in my building because it was old. Do new systems need new wire?

Answer:  Wire install costs within a facility, especially one that’s occupied, embody at least 25-30% of the total project costs. Rewiring occupied spaces comes at a heavy expense in either occupancy comfort or total project cost. If you decide to rewire your building after hours to alleviate tenant dissatisfaction, the overall cost can be expected to increase as much as 30%.

Most controls contractors can utilize either the BACNet or LON protocol to recycle your existing wiring and cut down on expense. In order to reuse existing controls wiring, contractors need to have in-depth knowledge on how to tune or reduce traffic on the system to ensure proper operation.

About the Author – I currently maintain an engineering sales position at Western Allied Mechanical. Our business is consulting customers on energy consumption and reducing costs through a joint mechanical and automation venture. I’m an avid follower of the industry and am always open to new opportunities and approaches. You can reach me at zdenning@westernallied.com or my cell at 650-798-4154.