4 FM quick reads on BAS
1. Make the Most of Your BAS: Use Automated Demand-Response
Today's tip is about automated demand-response, a strategy gaining in popularity and use among facility managers, and a strategy that can result in big energy savings.
You're probably already familiar with demand-response. It's a simple way to shave a few bucks here and there off of your monthly utility bill by undertaking temporary and voluntary reductions in energy use - lowering lighting, increasing the set point on the HVAC system slightly, or turning off a couple of elevators.
But in many cases, demand-response is still a manual function — facility managers choose which things to turn off or turn down, and then use their BAS to do so, or still in some case, go out and manually hit switches. Oftentimes, notification from the utility of a demand-response event, which usually coincides with the afternoon peak hours when electricity demand is very high and expensive to produce, comes via text message, e-mail or phone call. Facility managers then implement those demand-response plans and notify occupants that the facility is in a demand-response event for the next several hours or so.
These days, a strategy called automated demand-response is becoming increasingly popular, especially as facility managers continue to take advantage of the increasing expertise and technology resulting from continued emphasis on making the grid smarter.
Automated demand-response allows the utility to send a notification to a facility's building automation system, at which time, the BAS automatically initiates a pre-designed demand-response plan. So, with automated demand-response, the process of responding to an event is much easier, indeed it's automatic. You have the fancy BAS system, now why not take advantage of all its capabilities?
In addition to automated demand-response, which some experts estimate make up only about 10 percent of all demand-response programs, soon, facility managers will have more options about how to take advantage of real-time pricing and how to run facility equipment based on the specific cost of a kilowatt hour at a particular time.
2. How Fault Detection And Diagnostics Reduces Energy Costs
Today's briefing comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor for Building Operating Management. Microsoft has seen significant energy savings from deploying fault detection and diagnostics across its campus. In 2012, more than 4 million square feet of space on the Redmond campus have the smart solution in place, and Darrell Smith, director of energy and facilities, expects to save $1.5 million in energy costs for fiscal 2013. That savings is coming from "casting a net" of fault rules across the buildings to identify assets that are wasting energy because they are not working as designed or have incorrect set points. The payback is less than 18 months, which is particularly noteworthy since the state of Washington has rock-bottom power prices. "We have the third lowest utility rate in the country," Smith points out.
It's not that the buildings were designed inefficiently. A number of the worst performing were built to LEED Gold and LEED Silver standards. But under the old system, each building was retro-commissioned once every five years to make sure it was operating as designed. It was simply impossible with so many buildings to get to each one any faster.
That lag led to problems. For example, a sewer pump developed issues so the exhaust fan was taken off the carbon dioxide sensors and run at 100 percent. The override remained that way for a year before it was found and reversed.
Facilities personnel used to go and look to see what was broken. "Now, I know the actuator's broken before you tell me and I know how much it will cost if I don't make that repair," observes Smith.
But the intelligent building management system does more than indicate a $50 variable air volume fault versus a $20,000 air economizer problem.
"It also lets me drill down to the floor so I can evaluate the asset value and determine the priority," explains Smith. "It may be a $300 fault, but the impact on our business [could be] such that it's actually more important to fix the $300 fault before another fault that could represent $15,000 in wasted energy."
In addition to fault detection and diagnostics, Microsoft's system also manages alarms and assists in energy management functions. Smith estimates 2 million data points are currently connected across the campus. When all Microsoft buildings are on the new system, it may be handling 500 million data transactions every 24 hours.
3. What Is An Intelligent Building?
Today's briefing comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor for Building Operating Management. There is no single template for a smart building. The important capabilities or elements for smart buildings depend on "what brings value," says Paul Ehrlich, founder and president of Building Intelligence Group.
But one thing that intelligent buildings often have in common is linking multiple building subsystems to building automation systems, often using middleware to move the necessary data from its source to a common platform.
"Initially, building automation systems addressed only HVAC systems," explains Jack McGowan, president of Energy Control Inc., an OpTerra Energy Group company. "Today, there are technologies to incorporate fire/life safety, access controls and other building subsystems." McGowan says that intelligent technologies are so prevalent that they are becoming commodities.
Intelligent buildings feature three levels of integration, says Jim Sinopoli, managing partner at Smart Buildings. The first layer is physical integration at the cabling and infrastructure level.
Next is integrating various building systems, such as HVAC, fire, access control, elevators, lighting, pneumatic tube systems and other conveyance equipment, etc.
The third level of integration takes building information beyond simple facility management into asset management, preventive maintenance, external energy market data and beyond, using analytics and fault detection, says Sinopoli.
The new headquarters of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is a poster child for integrated building systems. The 13-story structure, which is aiming to achieve LEED Platinum status from the U.S. Green Building Council, has a sophisticated BAS that is connected to a wide range of building systems, including exterior sunshades for daylight harvesting and glare management, solar panels, water management — including on-demand water heaters and faucet sensors — wastewater treatment and rainwater harvesting for irrigation. The BAS at the 277,000-square-foot building provides demand response for various energy curtailment levels, building performance analytics with ongoing commissioning, alarm management for all subsystems, occupancy sensors, preventive maintenance elements and public information/education.
4. Microsoft Finds That Fault Detection Saves Energy
Today's briefing comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor for Building Operating Management. The value of intelligent buildings compounds when applied across a corporate or governmental real estate portfolio. Microsoft has about 125 buildings totaling roughly 15 million square feet on its Redmond, Wash., campus, as well as another 15 million square feet spread across the globe. The Redmond campus is the size of a medium-sized city, says Darrell Smith, director of facilities and energy for real estate and facilities.
Buildings were built at different times and design standards were not initially set. So the campus had many disparate BAS systems. "Nothing was talking to each other," says Smith. "Reporting was labor intensive." To prepare a quarterly report on energy use meant physically going into several tools to extract the information from every meter, which took weeks.
Ripping out and replacing $60 million of BAS systems to make everything the same was not feasible for a company with literally millions of data points. The company was looking for off-the-shelf solutions built on Microsoft technology that would provide fault detection and diagnosis, alarm management and energy management on one platform.
The company expects to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent. Microsoft began studying its options in 2009. By 2011, the company decided on three potential smart solutions from three different vendors and began installing and monitoring them in 13 buildings, representing about 2.6 million square feet of space. Some of the buildings were nearly brand new while others were more than 20 years old. The analytical layer from each vendor was installed above the existing building management systems.
Following a year of study and evaluation, Smith says all three program components performed well, "but fault detection turned out to offer the largest value. We saw a 17 percent savings in one building in just one week," he says. Now, Microsoft has selected one vendor from the three and is deploying the solution across its whole Redmond campus.