MBCx Detective: Finding Evidence-Based Savings with Analytics

  • Glen Anderson, PE – ETC Group
  • Lincoln Harmer, PE – kW Engineering

Monitoring-Based Commissioning (MBCx) is increasingly recognized as a platform for fault detection, diagnostics and problem solving in existing buildings. The first speaker presents a case study of Banner Health, a large hospital and health facilities system, implementing an MBCx project at the Glendale, Arizona campus to identify and maintain energy savings for completed projects, reversing the trend of energy drift.

The MBCx platform included custom analytics and FDD, while the commissioning firm provided engineering consulting services and project management throughout a year of implementation. This approach streamlined the ability to monitor facility performance, discover savings opportunities, implement upgrades, verify performance, and continue to optimize performance into the future. The project included:

• Monitoring facility performance, bringing together hundreds of devices with thousands of data points
• Discovering evidence-based savings opportunities
• Implementing energy upgrades that control ventilation based on occupancy, optimize the central chiller plant operation, maximize use of airside economizers and reset air handling unit operation
• Verifying performance of upgrades with a chiller plant power baseline model

The MBCx platform continues to optimize performance through monthly reporting and identifying new issues. The project is estimated to save Banner Health $449,000 annually.

The second speaker presents ways that analytics can bring legacy control systems into the future. The performance of a building is highly influenced by the quality of the controls infrastructure being utilized. Naturally, older systems still relying on legacy control systems are more prone to performance degradation than those with more modern controls. Typically, this is because the root causes of system faults are not fully resolved due to the rising cost of supporting older generations of system components and the inability for multiple vendors to exist on the same system. However, while maintenance costs may be rising, with spare parts becoming scarce and expensive, true maintenance savings alone is usually not enough to justify the capital investment involved with upgrading an entire control system.

The speaker presents a cost-effective approach to EBCx and developing a prioritized migration strategy for controls upgrade, using analytics to serve as a framework that Owners and facility managers can use to justify a controls modernization project. Using analytics on the onset of any controls modernization project enables control system migrations to happen at the Owner’s pace, allowing new controllers to be strategically integrated with existing equipment. This allows organizations to develop migration strategies and prioritize controls upgrades without having to “rip and replace” their entire hardware and software systems.

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