3  FM quick reads on building management system

1. Metrics, Data Goals Should Guide Selection of Facility Management Software-based Tools

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Angela Lewis of Facility Engineering Associates: Knowing what data to collect and what metrics to use is key to selecting the right software-based tool to help take advantage of facility data from the building management system and other sources.

The past few years have seen the introduction of powerful software based tools for benchmarking, energy dashboards and energy analytics. Although the tool selected is important, the processes that drive the use of the tool are perhaps even more important. A large part of this process is determining what data to collect and what metrics will most effectively support decision-making. Start by determining about five metrics and collecting the data needed to quantify those metrics. If the facility team seeks to collect too much data or identify too many metrics too early, there is a risk of being overwhelmed with the amount of data.

The goal is to transition to using the metrics as part of day-to-day decision making. For example, a college campus laboratory building was used as a pilot to test an energy dashboard with five metrics: whole building energy consumption (BTU/SF/year); energy consumption per source, electricity (kWh/SF) and natural gas (BTU/SF); overall building cooling (kW/ton), limited to chillers only; overall ventilation (CFM); and peak electrical demand (kW). After the dashboard was successfully implemented in one building, it was deployed to several other buildings on the campus.

To determine what metrics to select, identify the most frequent or largest decisions that are made. When considering energy consumption, metrics that compare total building energy consumption at the whole building level can be very helpful for a campus with multiple buildings to determine which buildings are the most energy intensive. However, to determine how to reduce the energy consumption, more detailed information is needed, such as energy consumption of lighting and cooling per square foot. Metrics that quantify energy costs are also important. Regardless of the metrics selected, it is important that meters with the appropriate level of accuracy are installed and that meters are properly calibrated.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

Wireless Option for Building Management System Has Pros and Cons

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Josh Thompson, of Point Source, LLC: Be familiar with both the pros and cons of wireless building management systems.

Here are

  1. Most BMS systems now afford integration with wireless solutions. Those that are not "native" to a certain technology can be translated with gateways that are readily available and affordable.
  2. Wireless devices allow BMS devices access to challenging and hazardous spaces, including historic/renovation spaces where cables simply cannot be used.
  3. Because there is no need to re-route cabling, there is flexibility in design and facility re-purposes.
  4. In deployment, wireless solutions are often less expensive than hardwired alternatives, particularly when the cost of conduit and copper are factored.
  5. Wireless systems are electrically isolated, making them immune to lightning or other electrical damage.
  6. When properly configured, wireless systems are more secure than a wired equivalent, both in terms of data security and protection from physical damage to infrastructures/cabling.

But beyond those benefits, there are other factors that must also be considered.
  • Wireless solutions require frequency planning coordination and potential IT coordination in design and integration.
  • The bandwidth of a wireless system is limited when compared to wired equivalents.
  • All wireless systems are subject to random interference, with no protection from future encroachment due to an unregulated spectrum.
  • Wireless solutions should never be deployed as part of a life-safety system.
  • Many require a consumable power source (batteries) which requires maintenance (at a cost) or line power, which defeats the benefit of using a wireless device; however, EnOcean devices do not require batteries. If you can get power to a location, you can generally get a signal wire there.
  • Not all spaces are accessible or are shielded from radio frequency transmission.
  • Many sensitive spaces and government facilities do not allow RF radiation of any kind.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

Building Management System Analytics and Diagnostics Can Aid Facility Staff, If Properly Programmed

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor for the magazine: New building management and energy management system have analytics and diagnostics capabilities can save time for facility staff, but they need to be properly programmed.

In the past, facility managers often had operating staff who could tell or sense when a building system was faltering and knew instinctively what needed to be done to fix it. However, these seasoned facility engineers are now retiring.

"People entering facilities management don't have that real-world experience," says Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings. "And there's more technology in today's buildings. BAS/EMS today needs more analytics software tools to support the new generation of facility engineers."

Those tools are often designed to make it easy to learn to use them. "The prevalence of easy-to-use Web-based interfaces, email alarm notifications, pre-made report forms and basic fault diagnostics can enable the typical overworked building manager to do more with less," says Robert G. Knight, senior associate with Environmental Systems Design. "That building manager no longer needs weeks of specialized off-site software training, or a degree in mechanical engineering, to keep a building running comfortably and efficiently."

Nevertheless, new building management and energy management systems are built on advanced software. To use that software optimally can be a challenge for traditional building operators. In response, Knight is encountering more customers who are adding in-house systems integration capabilities. That capability may come from the corporate IT department, from a systems integrator on the facility management team, or from the energy manager.

"The honest truth about all this powerful software," says Knight, "is that it still can't do the thinking for us. Somebody needs to write and tweak the fault diagnostic algorithms, model new energy management scenarios in the analytics software, refresh the content on the LEED kiosk, modify the management dashboard when the CIO wants a new metric."

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.


building management system , building automation system , metrics , dashboards , energy consumption

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