January 2010

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How efficient is your building’s resource use?
Reviewing a building’s utility usage can improve accountability and help develop more efficient strategies.

Sarah Erdman,
Marketing Director,
QA Graphics
serdman@qagraphics.com
 

According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in the United States alone, buildings are one of the heaviest consumers of our natural resources, responsible for 72 percent of electricity consumption, 39 percent of energy use, and 38 percent of all CO2 emissions. As the push for green building increases, so does the efficiency of existing buildings. In the current economy and competitive environment, facility managers must be responsible for the knowledge and management of their building’s resource use.

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More building automation systems are providing this important data, but reviewing the individual data points can be difficult. Dashboards can be used to display this information in a more accessible format, showing the big picture through charts and graphs that can easily be understood by those that don’t have specific knowledge about facility operations. Today, everything is driven to be more efficient; reviewing a building’s utility usage can improve accountability and help develop more efficient strategies. Maximizing a building’s efficiency not only improves the return on investment, but can also decrease operating costs, reduce natural resource use and improve the occupants or publics’ perception of the building.

QA Graphics, a graphics development company that specializes in control system graphics and energy dashboards, provides a cost-effective solution to easily communicate a building’s utility data. The solution is the Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard (EEED). It’s used to track energy or water consumption, allowing facility managers to determine how effective their systems are and monitor strategic initiatives.

We work in conjunction with building integrators to incorporate the EEED, as an affordable option to display and review building utility data. A recent example of this is a facility team utilizing an energy dashboard at Chemawa Indian School. Environmental Controls Corporation worked with QA Graphics to integrate the dashboard with the school’s BAS. “The EEED gives the owner immediate and easy access to all of the monitored systems to include real time and historical data,” said Don Lawrence, project manager from Environmental Controls. “The owner can use this information to manage their systems in a variety of ways to conserve energy, such as peak demand, demand limiting, and water conservation measures. When a dashboard is not in place, the owner is required to gain access to the control system’s trend log data.”

Chemawa Indian School

Reliable Controls The EEED is used by the facility team to review the school’s dormitory, gymnasium, woodshop and kitchen’s domestic water flow, electricity and gas use in real-time daily, weekly, monthly and yearly statistics. The school had noticed a high spike in energy use in the mornings. “We had an idea where the high spike was coming from, but now that the new control system and EEED is in place, we’ve been able to verify that this spike is from the dormitory,” said Shaun Naranjo, Chemawa facility specialist.

The school is working on small steps to encourage efficiency and now that the usage can be viewed in real-time and for specific locations, Chemawa will be able to develop additional strategies to help conserve water, gas and power.

Facility managers can work with their internal IT professionals to determine how a dashboard is integrated into the facility’s network, eliminating network security vulnerabilities. It’s used as a supplement to communicate building data that is being collected. The EEED uses specially developed hardware to read communication networks’ language. It’s capable of displaying information communicated through BACnet IP, BACnet MS/TP, LONWorks and Modbus devices. If a BAS is in place, the EEED can easily display any utility data that the BAS collects. The hardware takes the data and cleans it up to display the information in an easier to understand format. If a BAS is not in place, as may be the case for older buildings, the hardware compiles the information from the devices used to monitor the building’s utilities and then calculates the data to display it. The data can be viewed online or on a hardware device, such as a touchscreen. Dashboards are also commonly used to showcase a building’s efforts to the public. It’s an interactive way to educate others about efficiencies or sustainable features already in place.

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