October 2006
  
AutomatedBuildings.com

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Energy Conservation with a Conscience
Decisions on where to apply resources cannot be made unless the value of both the building’s efficiency and its comfort are equally represented.

Kenny SibleyKenny Sibley
Technical Manager
Automated Logic Corporation/United Environmental Services

Automated Logic Corporation

With the rising cost of power, building owners, operators, and energy managers will be looking for energy conservation measures (ECMs) for their buildings. At the same time they must maintain a comfortable environment because there have been numerous studies indicating that as the building environment degrades so does the ability for students to learn and the occupants to be productive. They will have to establish the delicate balance of reducing energy cost while maintaining a comfortable environment.

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There is additional complexity for those managers with multiple facilities. Not only must they evaluate the energy efficiency and comfort level of each facility, but they must also use objective data to compare each building’s performance against the other. These comparisons require objective data that allows statistical comparison. In the end they must be able to apply their limited resources toward projects that have the greatest opportunity for improvement. Decisions on where to apply resources cannot be made unless the value of both the building’s efficiency and its comfort are equally represented, and the following questions are answered:

  • How do I determine which building is truly the least efficient?

  • How do I monitor if an ECM is actually saving the money that was estimated?

  • Did the ECM cause the building environment to get worse or improve?

  • Which building is the most uncomfortable?

  • Am I willing to sacrifice a comfortable environment for energy savings? To what extent?

In the past the answers to these questions were, at best, a guess. The energy consumption or environmental information, such as individual trend data, may be accessible in a building automation system, but the time to investigate and make decisions based on the granular information can be impractical.

New programs are now available where the granular information can be collected and “rolled up” into easily understandable reports based on different criteria. The power of these reports is that they are timely, intuitive, and revealing. Using this information allows the user to easily identify where they can receive the most bang from their ECM or retrofit buck.

Control Solutions, Inc Automated Logic, known for its ability to present large amounts of data in a simple and understandable way, is now introducing M-Power. M-Power extracts the building’s environmental conditions and utility data from their building automation system (WebCTRL) allowing the user to sort and compare their buildings, based on operator selected criteria. M-Power continuously grades the building’s comfort level by comparing real time conditions against the individual set points for each zone’s temperature, humidity, and CO2 level. M-Power also allows the user to compare buildings based on a combination of factors such as Environmental Index (comfort), utility usage, utility cost, building square footage, building runtime, and number of occupants. With this “rolled up” utility and comfort data the building owner, operator, or energy manager can easily identify which building is the least energy efficient and/or is the worst at maintaining a comfortable environment for the occupants. Using both of these criteria for making decisions promotes energy conservation with a conscience.

Equally important to the decision making process is the feedback loop. The M-Power system has reports that monitor the effects an ECM has on the building for energy savings and comfort. Using data stored in the WebCTRL server, the M-Power system reports on the energy usage and building environment before and after the ECM’s are implemented, normalizing the saving based on the building’s runtime and energy rates, so a fair comparison can be made.

With the advancement in automation systems, building owners, operators, and energy managers can now easily access the information they need to make informed decisions as to where to spend their energy conservation or retrofit budgets while maintaining comfort standards. Today’s focus should be on energy conservation, with a conscience.


About the Author

Kenny Sibley is the Technical Manager for Automated Logic Corporation/United Environmental Services and has over 28 years of experience in commercial temperature controls, direct digital controls and building automation systems.   For more information contact him at kennys@uescontrols.com

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