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Why Your Energy Management System Isn't Working

Jul 20, 2017 5:29:00 PM

When was the last time you performed a diagnostic check on your Energy Management System (EMS)? Have the complaints about heating, cooling or ventilation increased? Are they manageable? Can you see HVAC and lighting schedules and usage on one user-friendly dashboard?

Many buildings use EMS technology created in the 1990s or early 2000s. This limits building management and automation capabilities, exposes your business to avoidable cyber security risks, and frustrates building occupants. You don't have to deal with lackluster EMS performance when cost-effective, smarter solutions are available.

EMS Isn't Working

The answer to why your EMS isn't working is that it has never fully "worked." The typical modern EMS is still a rather dumb system. It checks a small fraction of the data points available with newer, smarter building management systems (BMS) that gather hundreds of data points per minute.

Additionally, the typical EMS is initially commissioned to reflect loads for each building space that are calculated based on climate, time of day, humidity, CO2 levels and more. When the environment matches all presets for all variables, the system functions well. However, the typical EMS usually only has two presets like this (one for summer months and one for winter months). When just one variable is different, imbalances create inefficiency and discomfort in your building.

Your EMS probably doesn't offer real-time mobile monitoring either, unless you call a system status notification every two hours "real-time." Clearly, this is limiting. It likely doesn't offer remote control over temperature, lighting and equipment scheduling either. What do we mean by "remote control?" The smart BMS enables facility managers to have real-time insight and control over temperature, lighting and equipment scheduling from anywhere in the world with cellular service or a Wi-Fi connection.

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Facilisight building management system remote monitoring and control

What Makes the Smart BMS Work Better?

Facility managers and tenants know we have the technology to manage building systems better. They have some of the technology in their homes. So, they're demanding it at work, in retail stores and in restaurants too.

Another factor is that HVAC systems may be either mismanaged by HVAC technicians or just don't function properly. We have encountered many nonfunctional or disabled rooftop economizers and dirty air filters on rooftop units (RTUs). Kristin Heinemeier, Principal Engineer at University California Davis Energy Efficiency Center, found that failure rates of economizers in the field average about 60%.

When an economizer is stuck in one position or disabled, it's either pulling outside air into your building regardless of its temperature or quality, or it's not taking in enough outside air (possibly not any if the outside air damper is fully closed).

  • Outside air damper stuck open: A disabled or nonfunctional economizer with an outside air damper stuck in the open position forces your heating system to work on overdrive in the winter and your cooling system to do the same in the summer.
  • Outside air damper stuck closed: An outside air damper stuck in the closed position misses the opportunity for the "free cooling" provided by taking in cooler outside air to cool a building when the temperature is right, rather than expending energy on air conditioning. It also recycles more indoor air than is optimal for maintaining indoor air quality.

These issues generally cause your related energy costs to increase by the amount of cost savings you would otherwise experience if the economizer and outside air damper were functioning properly (usually 20% to 30%).

Outside Air Optimization (OAO) and Dynamic Airflow Balancing Make a World of Difference

An economizer can be linked to wireless sensors within each zone of your building, a local weather feed and smart dampers (which allow air temperatures to modulate by zone) placed throughout your ductwork, leading to each diffuser. Cloud computing, Internet of Things and machine learning technology optimize your system for comfort and/or energy efficiency.

A dynamic BMS fits the dynamic needs of your building and its people. It adjusts automatically to the current weather, forecasted weather and solar levels throughout each day.

Sense Temperature, Humidity, CO2, Weather. Monitor, analyze and control with predictive, proactive capabilities.

Cloud computing and machine learning allow the smart BMS to create a thermal map of your building, understanding its unique characteristics, including geographical orientation, heat and energy loads, and usage patterns. The system's optimization of outside air intake and airflow balancing allows it to provide peak quality supply air at the right temperature exactly when and where it is needed. It then makes efficient use of return air in the system and can increase free cooling days in warmer months by approximately 200%, according to 75F customer data. As a result of heating and cooling savings, a smart BMS that continually commissions your HVAC system can save you between 30% and 50% in energy costs.

How Good Are Your Lighting Controls and Scheduling?

Did you know that commercial smart lighting solutions for interior, exterior, parking lots and signage can be entirely automated and controlled by you from anywhere in the world via the Internet? Significant time and energy savings gain be gained through photocell integration that ties your lighting zones to indoor and outdoor light levels. Additionally, the smart BMS provides energy savings through dimming and scheduling that can also be remotely controlled with real-time visibility across a portfolio of buildings.

Everything on one user-friendly, mobile dashboard makes the latest technology for building controls and energy management systems a must-have for today's facility manager.



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