Facility managers aim for energy efficiency and occupant comfort in high-performance buildings, from the time the building enters design all the way through day-to-day operations. High-performance operation is increasingly tied to effective use of data. Integration of a BACnet-based control system pulls together multiple systems to offer powerful tools to achieving these efficiency goals.
BACnet enables a building's data to circulate within and among such systems as HVAC, lighting, and life safety. But, without a defined set of analytics — software that uses algorithms to analyze building system data to locate operational issues — it can be difficult to access this valuable information. Analytics take advantage of BACnet data to show facility managers how their buildings are operating from day to day, allowing them to ensure that high-performance design translates into high performance operation.
"Analytics is about ensuring that you have enough data and enough of the right data being collected for analysis," says Kevin Callahan, product market manager at Alerton, a Honeywell business. "Analysis is looking for patterns and should be used to ensure that any programs created to reduce energy, or whatever the objective is, are actually doing what you intend."
As most facility managers are aware, BACnet enables interoperability among control systems from different manufacturers. The free-flowing data provided by BACnet is a prerequisite for implementing control strategies that drive high performance. BACnet also assists in maximizing performance through its standard data definitions and interface, providing access to a broad set of building information.
"BACnet, in and of itself, will not create more or less performance in a building, but its implementation may create easier methods for communication and thereby reduce engineering costs, as well as the need for gateways and other devices," explains Rocky Moore, director of business development for American Auto-Matrix.
As Andy McMillan, president and managing director of BACnet International, sees it, these days BACnet no longer is just an option if facility managers want to operate an efficient, high-performance building. It's a necessity. "Just like it would be difficult to build a high-performance transportation system without highways, it would be difficult to build a high-performance building without an information highway provided by BACnet," McMillan says.
The data generated by BACnet systems is easily accessible for review and analysis because of the protocol's common data model and open communications that can be used to normalize information from many different sources. Analytical algorithms aggregate this information to identify trends and run system status and history reports to help the facilities team make important operating decisions.
"Because BACnet systems are based on an open protocol, they offer the flexibility to mix vendor solutions and employ a third-party analytics system, which can provide insights on lighting, HVAC, security and building management systems," says Jon Williamson, communications officer, systems line of business at Schneider Electric. "Building managers can pull data from these systems and run it against algorithms to compare current operations against an optimal range for a piece of equipment to drive greater performance."
Once data is readily available in a common format, it then is possible to combine and compare information from multiple sources to define automated responses, identify trends, and run simple, yet comprehensive, system status and history reports. "This allows facility managers to make smart decisions," says Chris Hollinger, senior product manager at Siemens. "The big win is that predictive maintenance and efficiency calculations can then be enabled by comparing as-designed operating parameters to actual runtime parameters."
Analytics also enable users to store data to create benchmarks for historical comparison and to track systems on a consistent basis. This data can be used to encourage occupants to become more aware of consumption and to reduce energy use. It also can help determine facility goals and measurement procedures.
"Basic trend data can provide historical context for keen insight," notes Ben Dorsey, senior vice president of marketing for KMC Controls. "Further, dashboard representation of data analytics can provide higher levels of insight."
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