By Candice Rogers, Paladin, Inc.

As major organizations have raced to embrace “smart” buildings, they have discovered that merely adding sensors, hardware and software are not enough for a building to deliver on its intelligent potential. As designers and installing contractors have attempted to harness the Internet of Things for buildings, they have run up against key obstacles ranging from incompatibility of equipment and systems to unsecured IP networks that leave system controls open to potentially dangerous hacking. The end result can be a building that actually performs worse than one without all the high-tech gadgetry.

A combination of systems integration and careful planning is essential to create buildings that are actually smart enough to deliver enhanced usability and improved economics. Functioning as Enterprise Building Automation Systems experts, Paladin, Inc. has been helping building owners to get a handle on their system controls and their implications (cost, security and comfort) with a combination of sophisticated control experience and meticulous system testing.

A prime example of our approach can be seen in the implementation of the Commonwealth Energy Management and Control System (CEMCS) for Kentucky’s Community and Technical College System (KCTCS).

As a rule, post-secondary centers of learning are comprised of sizable physical inventory with buildings dedicated to administration and varying instructional programs. These diverse buildings represent a unique challenge of energy management with seasonal usage cycles, HVAC equipment of vastly different ages and legacy control systems. The key challenge is to not only standardize the control systems, but to also identify and fix malfunctioning equipment then monitor and control equipment to maintain system performance.

With 16 colleges spread across more than 70 campuses, energy costs constitute a sizable and controllable portion of the KCTCS annual budget, so we accepted their challenge to slash consumption more than 15% through the effective use of the CEMCS platform. To support this vision, Paladin handled two distinct challenges: directing the Implementation of the Commonwealth Energy Management then using it to optimize Building Systems’ Performance.

Paladin’s Implementation Workplan aligned the best efforts of the KCTCS team including their IT experts, their facilities management and key administrators. We drew heavily upon the insights and services of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet Office of Efficiency; the Kentucky Division of Engineering and Contract Administration (DECA); Cochrane Supply; and Interval Data Systems (IDS).

The plan covered critical topics ranging from delineation of roles to deciding which methodology would be used to assess the possible level of integration into the CEMCS for each facility. The guidelines developed provided a common set of criteria for setting baseline measures against which targets could be set and success measured. This approach streamlined the implementation process including data gathering and equipment inventories.

One of the most significant challenges for the program was data management. In review of existing inventory, the team quickly realized there was a data categorization issue. For the CEMCS program to work, each point needed unique identification through metadata. KCTCS had two options for achieving the desired point naming:

  1. hardcoding each individual point name, or
  2. masking the original point name using open source building automation.

They opted for the latter, creating an enterprise effort for implementing enhanced building automation system architecture.

By keeping the KCTCS’s metadata tagging intact when exported outside of the automation system front end, it remains usable by many third-party energy management information system (EMIS) platforms. The metadata/tagging further enabled any application programming interface (API) and makes the entire inventory of data searchable by identifiers such as: college, campus, building, area, equipment, point type, etc.

At the time of publication, more than 50% of the designated KCTCS building inventory has been subject to our detailed process. As a result, the buildings with completed implementations have exceeded the energy reduction goals by nearly 2% (for a total of 17+%), bringing savings to campus locations including Ashland Community and Technical College, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Madisonville Community College, Owensboro Community and Technical College, and West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

The task now exists for KCTCS to use CEMCS for optimization of building systems’ performance to maximize the energy reduction. High quality, comprehensive BAS interval data including comprehensive set points, schedules, control sequences, and areas out of operation give us a jumping off point for remediation.

At the end of the day, the optimization process is about more than finding the issues and recording them. Smart buildings start delivering on their potential when their energy conservation measures are managed with an integrated program structure. The best results flow when everyone can answer the key questions like “Who is responsible for action and funding?” and “What gets implemented and when?” With the KCTCS system and plan in place, the foundation of understanding not only improves targeted buildings, but also provides a fundamental approach that can be applied for every building on campus.

Applying Enterprise Building Automation Systems can be broken down into simplified steps:

  1. Identify the GOALS FOR YOUR DATA
  2. GENERATE A PLAN with Consultation
  3. CREATE A CUSTOMIZED STANDARD for how your data is programmed, displayed, and reported
  4. Begin implementation with RIGOROUS QUALITY CONTROL
  5. ANALYZE results and IMPROVE

As organizations balance shrinking budgets against growing demands for people-friendly spaces, the efficiencies that flow from our process will enable our customers to satisfy consumer demand as they meet budget targets. In our viewpoint, that’s not just smart, it’s brilliant.

Paladin, Inc. is a Lexington, KY based commissioning and technical services company. Founded in 1986, Paladin is a Woman-Owned Business interested in improving the built environment; helping Owners realize game-changing strategies to their common building issues. Our singular focus is to be “Game changers in building systems.™”

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