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Successful Energy Management integration with building Management Systems

Facility and property Managers are faced with managing greater volumes of technology in their buildings as the pressure increases

Robot man with a question mark

for buildings to perform to improve sustainability. More technology means more computers on the desk, or does it? More black boxes to understand and more vendors to be held captive to.

Its a negative view and its held by many whom are at the helm of driving the building, but its not that bad, in fact, it better now than it ever was. Why? There are a greater number of vendors, a greater number of systems and a more competitive market place, not just for your dollar but also to provide a service that ensures a “cradle to grave” client.

Integration:

“Integration” of your systems is not an expensive task and is the key to optimizing existing and future technology to deliver results. We define results as reducing manual data handling from the building, making building management easier, effective and more proactive. The key word being effectively, as you can integrity a huge building system and it does nothing (I’m sure a few of our reader have these!).
Integration completed effectively and in consultation with the FM can save time money and a lot of stress, its only limited by our imagination in solving problems. To demonstrate, we’ll use a few examples. (all of these are considered for existing operational buildings)

Energy Management System (EMS) and the Building Management System (BMS):

Should we add an additional EMS over and above the BMS? Should we extend the existing BMS to include EMS? Should we replace the BMS and refurbish the system with a combined BMS and EMS? Technically, you should get the same results in terms of monitoring your energy, but there are some hidden gems of economies in the different methods.

Additional EMS:

There are several reasons for this consideration:

  • 1 there is no existing BMS
  • 2 the existing BMS is obsolete and using a proprietary protocol
  • 3 the existing BMS is a “captive single vendor System”

Robot man with a graphic chart for Energy Management integration building Management Systems
To eliminate these reasons and integrate a combined EMS and BMS whole building system means a greater capital expense, than just an EMS, which might not be available for some time. There is a way to help and assist with “future proofing” your EMS for when the capital becomes available.

Any consideration of the EMS should be an open protocol System:

The “open” systems will means the EMS can communicate with a BMS without the need for a gateway (gateways are often a sources of errors in communications, don’t go here). Integration between the two systems, which are both of the same open protocol, becomes seamless and effective as the BMS can talk to the EMS and vice versa.
Beware! “proprietary open” (WTF!!) we have been caught out on this, its “vendor1 Bacnet” or “vendor2Bacnet” or “Vensor1 Lon” , etc, it complies to the specification, but doesn’t like other vendors and will not communicate to them. (nasty!!!)

Integrating the Existing BMS and an EMS:

For this discussion we assume the existing BMS (or EMS) is an open protocol; the integration is straight forward in terms of extending the existing BMS network to include Energy Monitoring devices. This works a gem if all the devices are of same protocol, that is, all devices are available in the same protocol and all are competitively priced. This doesn’t happen! Vendors of energy monitoring devices have different pricing for different protocols and if you need a very specific and unique device there will be a very narrow market and less opportunity to receive the device using your existing protocol.

energy management

Trend logging energy performance of appliances and equipment is integral to successful energy management

To resolve this, an open platform web server, which, can communicate seemliness to different protocols and be accessed via an IP address. In a nutshell, the web server lives at the top of the network tree, the sub-networks, in open protocol such as Lon, BACnet, Modbus, etc, all communicate seemliness back to the web server and exchange data at the web server.
Once we have all devices communicating either on the same open protocol network or via web server, it’s a matter to program the systems’ inter-operability. What this means, is to program the exchange of relevant data between the systems. We want data that is useful, not junk, for effective integration. An example; when the EMS sees a set point of power consumption exceeded and the outside air temperature is within limits (as sent from the BMS), the compressors are delayed to start (the EMS flags the BMS to activate the delay part of the code for the A/C unit). There are literally infinite strategies like this, the only limitation is our imagination to solve the challenge.
The EMS and the BMS to be effective need the ability to trend log, if a system doesn’t have this. Its either very obsolete or something you should run away from…..soon as possible.

Metering and sub metering:

Lets assume the EMS is installed, all this data from different electrical energy meters is now available, what now? What do we do with this data?
There are two options, the first, is to add an additional software package the will display graphs that are programmed to show you relevant information via the IP address. The programming of these graphs is critical to their usefulness. There is no point producing the graphs without a comparison or verification bench mark to see results are occurring, to see the strategies are delivering data which verifies the return of investment of the strategies. Ultimately, the results reflect in the power bill and the Nabers rating of the building, ideally the FM (or supplier) should be tracking energy usage in-line with the strategies.

The second option is to export the EMS data to excel or similar program. The Energy Meters can be separately exported to your excel file. Contact your energy supplier as they can e-mail a daily power usage in excel form to you showing not just the power consumption per feed but the power factor also (this is a whole other discussion about power factor, but if your is not near parity do something about it.)

energy parrameter trend log

Energy Management

Interrogate the BMS for outside air temperature, room temperature and other data trend logs and export these to excel. Bring these files together and using your expert excel skills you can interrogate the data to see where you can make improvements.

The time to do this might not be available, if your BMS and your EMS is well set up with trend logs, it just a matter of training the building Manager or use an external supplier (like us, sell sell sell) to help out.

Other System Integration advantages:

Systems integration on site can provide a proactive opportunity for the building Management, for example, the BMS is interfaced into the vertical rise system, a fault has developed in one of the cars and its 7:00am. The System sends an e-mail to the FM’s phone (who is at the Café ordering his designer skinny soy latte’) the FM has a pre-set e-mail broadcast to all tenants to let them know the FM is aware of the problem and the service supplier has been notified to rectify the situation. No nasty calls to the Building Manager, the supplier is on their way, and the tenants see a proactive building management company. (for sake of discussion, the cost to implement something like this would be circa $5000 subject to the site system).
There is an additional benefit for adding value with the sub-metering and that is NABERS looks favorably upon this when an assessment is completed, for more information about this, please contact NABERS.

A final Note that might save you money:

We talked about the market and the number of vendors earlier in our article, Your existing System might be with a large vendor and there is a “feeling” of either loyalty or captivity with that vendor.
There are a lot of system vendors, big and small, that can offer great services and competitive pricing for your existing system and new systems, both BMS and EMS. This is whole point of open protocol Systems, to open up to the market and negate the single vendor captivity. In Sydney alone there is at circa 35 control and EMS vendors. How many have you called?
Nigel Wraight
Principle
Forte Asset Services

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