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Smart Building Technology on a Smaller Scale
Implementing smart building technology can help facilities of all sizes become more energy efficient and cost effective. One widely held perception is that smart building technology is cost-effective only for large commercial properties of more than 100,000 square feet. But through a recent project the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee (MAAC), a San Diego County (Calif.) non-profit that supplies life-changing services to individuals and families, has found a quicker and easier way to save energy and money at its San Marcos Head Start Center.
Energy use – including HVAC monitoring and control – represents the largest operating expense for commercial buildings, and smart building technologies promise to help lower those costs. But until recently the complexity and cost of connecting, monitoring, and managing many different types of equipment in buildings put these efficiencies out of reach for anything but the largest buildings and budgets. Even with the recent availability of advanced IoT technologies, for non-profit organizations like MAAC, time and resources are stretched thin and the reality of implementing smart technology can seem out of reach.
Recognizing this, CANDI worked with partners to donate devices and implementation support to help MAAC affordably retrofit its San Marcos child development center. The facility, located in San Diego County, is open 12 hours a day, operates a kitchen with walk-in freezer, and includes offices, classroom, and day care areas. Air conditioning is critical most of the year to maintain a comfortable environment for the staff and many small children. CANDI donated an Intel® BMP gateway and two powerful eGauge meters, and RCS Technology donated three ZigBee-connected thermostats. Those donations saved the non-profit about $1,450. MAAC funded project management, the remaining equipment, installation labor, and fees for a total investment of about $4,500.
Simple, one-day installation
CANDI provided technical guidance for the simple one-day installation at the San Marcos Head Start Center. Oscar Matos, MAAC facilities manager, oversaw the project, and local integrator Velociti executed the installation. On installation day, power was dropped in half of the building at a time to install the energy meters and replace existing thermostats. The meters monitored the building’s main electrical circuits, HVAC, and refrigeration equipment. The thermostats controlled split-unit heat pumps. MAAC’s IT department was consulted but needed minimal involvement, as the Intel BMP gateway is network-ready out of the box. The smart thermostats and energy meters were configured through the CANDI PowerTools application. Before the day ended, data was already flowing to provide new insights into the building’s energy use.
“With about 400,000 square feet distributed across 17 sites throughout northern San Diego County, MAAC is always looking for ways to reduce energy costs and improve operating efficiency so that budgets can be optimized for programs that benefit children and families,” Matos says. “The installation at our San Marcos facility was so easy and effective that I didn’t even need to be onsite. After about an hour of training, we were up and running and able to easily access energy and HVAC data and settings at any time from a computer or smartphone.”
Benefits apparent from the start
Within a month, the installation started to pay off. For example, when a higher-than-expected energy use over a weekend was observed, the multi-channel energy monitoring capability made it fast and easy to drill down into the data to diagnose and identify a specific heat pump responsible for the off-hour energy consumption. That data prompted a discussion with the facility’s staff, revealing that a staff member had manually overridden a thermostat. The dialog resulted in an agreement on an automated setting that is both comfortable and efficient. Having detailed information is helping the facilities team reduce ongoing costs by remotely monitoring anomalies and energy waste caused by manual overrides, doors and windows left open, equipment problems, and the like. Longer term, the benefits of reduced energy costs, fewer site visits, remote equipment monitoring and control, and a more consistently comfortable environment for the on-site staff and families combine to make a strong case for affordable, easy-to-implement smart buildings.
“When we realized that MAAC’s values were completely in line with CANDI’s values, this made it even more appealing for us to help MAAC save money to put back into resources that touch the lives of so many people,” saysSteve Raschke, CEO of CANDI. “The perception that implementing smart building technology is too complex, too expensive, or too disruptive to day-to-day operations may be holding companies back. But if a small non-profit can do it, then it should be a breeze for bigger commercial operations.”
For more information, visit: https://candicontrols.com/fast-savings-smart-buildings-even-non-profit-can-do-it/