June 2017

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Filling the BeMS Training Gap

Companies who truly understand the systems they have installed and their relationships are able to make best of use their Building energy Management System and help them achieve their objectives of saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.
Steve Harrison

Steve Harrison

Technical Director
Optimised Learning

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The old saying “rubbish in means rubbish out” is probably relevant today more than ever.

Generally, most Building energy Management System operators are aware that they have intelligent building controls installed on their heating and ventilation equipment, and there will be a good level of knowledge to manage this.

But what operators often don’t appreciate is the huge benefit controls can bring to reduce the long-term running costs of their building with very little capital expenditure.

Using what we already have in place, and understanding the relationship between devices sometimes operating independently in the same system means we can ensure there is good “Relational Control” between different manufacturers products. Users who deploy this strategy will be seeing an immediate impact on energy reduction and higher long-term energy saving.

First, what are the rewards?

To understand this better, we need to go back to some basic facts. There is a growing realisation that most of the costs regarding the life cycle of a commercial building are running and maintaining it. In fact, over the whole lifecycle of the building, the figures are approximately 25% for the design and construction of the building and 75% for the operation and maintenance.

Let’s take the initial design and construction, of this just ten per cent of the entire lifetime costs of a building are made up of its construction. And yet, it is here in this small margin that contractors attempt to squeeze budgets hardest. This leads to control systems that are either incompatible or will not communicate with the Building energy Management System. That means even at hand over the building may not have a cohesive energy management strategy.

Of the remaining 75%, it is safe to say that much of the costs are related to building services – heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and lighting. It is only through good building controls that these costs can be managed effectively. By understanding the relationship between incompatible systems, the Facility Manager can directly influence the performance of a company’s profit and loss. This is not only by saving energy in the building but also because of the relationship the built environment has to productivity.

One of the most efficient ways to improve the quality of the environment we work in is by understanding how we control it. To do this, we need to understand “Relational Control.”

How to understand “Relational Control” in Building Services

The rise in demand for controls and intelligent equipment presents the building services industry with a massive integration challenge; to maximise the value from today’s controls, systems must communicate with each other effectively.

The controls sector is going through a change right now, and a shift toward the efficiency of factory fitted controls with “open” protocols and multi-vendor networks. This means there is growing pressure on end users to understand the minefield of communication compatibility. This is not straight forward even for “compatible systems,” but the rewards of integration are huge.

Open protocols can seem confusing, but operators need to be aware of the main contenders such as BACnet, LonWorks, Modbus, and KNX. Using open protocols makes it much easier to build up a relationship between smart equipment, and the BeMS.

A recognised and approved controls company can very quickly ascertain if you have good “Relational Control,” or two systems competing against each other. In its simplest terms, one system could be in free cooling mode bringing in cold air from outside, whilst another system is calling for heat. If we build a relationship between systems, there is less chance of this happening. This is what we call “Relational Control.”

Rational Control

What are the latest BeMS innovations to enable Relational Control?

Building controls are technically a fast-moving sector, and manufacturers are investing in new technologies all the time. We are now seeing more cloud-based data storage; this is an enabler to “Relational Control.”

The data is normalised and held centrally; this means the capability of front-end software of BeMS is also developing, bespoke dashboards allow us to build user interfaces that help us create an efficient energy strategy. It also means end-users can access information on building performance from different systems and assemble it in one place.

The emergence of factory fitted controls, smart pumps, fans, chillers and even sensors with cloud access means that better basic understanding of this technology by end users is needed, this will help them to specify holistic systems and identify what is available now and in the future.

Looming Legislation!

Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme should encourage companies to take note of what they can do to save money; this should lead to more awareness about how cost effective building controls are when it comes to saving energy.

The more significant step forward for the controls industry was the recognition in the new Part L 2013 Compliance Guide of BS EN15232 which offers a methodology for grading Building energy Management Systems.

It is a good time for large commercial property managers to review their building stock to see how “Relational Control” can be improved. Thanks to BS EN 15232, the math’s can now be easily done to highlight inefficiency.

From April 2018, a new legal standard for minimum energy efficiency will apply to rented commercial buildings. This means that it will be unlawful to let commercial buildings with an energy performance rating of F or G.

Large commercial property managers are already reviewing their building stock to see how energy performance can be improved – and effective building controls and building controls training can play an important part in that process.

Optimised Learning means Optimised Buildings

The controls industry has always prided itself on raising standards and professionalism, manufacturers of control systems supply end user training on their own brand of Building energy Management System. This is manufacturer specific and is completely fit for purpose.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]But as discussed earlier, buildings are often delivered with many different manufacturers controls that need a good “Relational Control” strategy.

This is simply explained in plain English by Optimised Learning’s eLearning modules on ‘Understanding BeMS’, these modules cover many of the roadblocks discussed in this article and give End Users and Facility Managers a much better understanding of a holistic energy strategy.

There are four basic courses; the first is an outline of a BeMS, the second covers cooling, the third, heating and finally air conditioning. All are at a basic level that allows the student to gather some of the vernacular used by controls engineers and gives real tips and hints on how to save energy. There is also an end test, a multiple-choice questionnaire to ensure the message has been delivered.

Companies who truly understand the systems they have installed and their relationships are able to make best of use their Building energy Management System and help them achieve their objectives of saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

About the Author

Steve Harrison, Immediate Past President of the Building Control Industry Association has been 28 years in the control industry and is the Technical Director of Optimised Learning.

Rational Control

Open Communications 

Data Aggregation


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