Analytics Options Are As Varied As Buildings
There are many types of analytics and many ways to use them, notes McMillan, adding that the answer to what types are available is not a simple one. "Creative development of new analytics and creative interventions based on analytic results are areas where innovation likely will flourish over the next few years," he says. "What is clear already is that analytics will provide powerful justification for strategies that are known to be effective but are hard to measure."
Employing analytics helps ensure facility managers have the right data being collected for analysis so that they can find patterns within their buildings. Because building systems generate massive volumes of data, it is important to focus on the most important areas.
"For example, you should make sure you are not heating and cooling at the same time or that the lights aren't on for convenience, but need, such as only during normal operating hours," Alerton's Callahan says. "Analyzed data should tell you if energy is being wasted and where."
Analytics can also be useful to support data generated by alarm conditions. "It's important to analyze alarms and understand if certain areas of the facility are consistently out of the setpoint range or in fault condition," says Nancy Stein, director, systems and room control, Honeywell. "These are low-hanging fruit, indicating conditions that warrant closer analysis."
Another key area is analyzing occupancy schedules relative to actual occupancy patterns to ensure they still meet the needs of facility occupants. Analytics can also be used for regular monitoring of equipment that is in an operator-override condition. "Many building automation systems have the ability to run reports to identify equipment in an overridden condition, which can prompt the building operator to evaluate if the overridden condition is still appropriate," says Tom Rule, business line manager at Honeywell.
For example, if a building occupant overrides an airflow system and sets it to maximum airflow, the system will run the fan at full speed because it thinks that zone needs more air. "An analytic can detect the issue — that the fan is running faster than it should in those conditions — so that someone is notified of the problem," says Gene Shedivy, controls product leader at Trane.
Dashboards can take the data from these types of analytics and make it easy to study and digest. An energy dashboard, for example, can show performance and costs per system and per facility, providing an at-a-glance indicator of what's working well and what's not. Dashboards also can show conditions for key systems of interest.
No matter what kinds of analytics are used and how they are interpreted, there is something else for facility managers to consider: For analytics to perform well, BACnet device selection and system configuration are key contributors to success.
"Analytic packages rely on gathering large amounts of data so they can study trends throughout the building," says Schneider Electric's Williamson. "Choosing BACnet devices that support change of value (COV) data transfer is essential to avoid flooding the networks with traffic.