VP of Information Technology, Rob Glance, Featured in Project Haystack’s Connections Magazine

BuildingFit Vice President of Information Technology, Rob Glance, is featured in Project Haystack’s Fall 2020 issue of Connections Magazine, where he discusses the complexities connecting with Building Automation Systems and the benefits of deploying analytics.

Finding Our Way: Take the Established Success Path for Implementing Building Analytics

“While many Building Automation Systems (BAS) products are becoming IP-compliant, many existing buildings have older legacy and proprietary BAS systems. This creates big problems for those charged with managing buildings. Semantic tagging is a key part of the solution.”

I sometimes feel stuck in the past regarding building automation systems (BAS). This is because I hear
a consistent grievance from building owners, their

engineering staff and service providers who share the same set of problems. While most industries have adopted and are aligned with industry standards relating to IP networking and enterprise data management, building automation is stuck in catch-up mode. Owners understandably want to manage their sites with the latest technologies and information management systems. While many building automation systems (BAS) products are becoming IP-compliant, many existing buildings have older legacy and proprietary BAS systems. This creates big problems for those charged with managing buildings.

The result of this is that applying analytics on building performance, building owners are locked into a cycle of needing to upgrade outdated BAS while knowing that outright replacement and attaining the capital needed to justify ROI are often insurmountable. Many of these BAS are incapable of offering much more than simple trend data and weren’t designed to provide any real operational diagnostics beyond basic alarms.

When BAS Deficiencies are a Legacy

Operators of older, legacy BAS face a major impediment: They’re working with systems that don’t easily share information, generally lack the ability to communicate with other systems, and upgradability is restricted.

These factors in concert, present a common challenge: How to view and use different system source data in one unified software view? Many facility managers try to function in an environment in which they can’t see how each system is performing and how they interoperate.

In addition, many of my customers have administrative and compliance reporting requirements that demand
real information and analysis about energy, costs, and regulatory compliance. BAS hold much of that, but unfortunately, not in a manner that allows them to access it, let alone actually use it.

Modernizing Legacy BAS: You don’t have to Hit “Reset”

So, the refrains we hear include: “How do I modernize my legacy systems? And how can I elevate BAS capabilities to get me what I need, while preserving the investments already made?”

Another challenge: How to make necessary upgrades to existing assets that make the data accessible and usable – all without breaking the bank? Serving that data up into a single information and analytics platform is the next step.

Integrating the right data analytics tools to access
these insights is a longstanding source of frustration
for building managers. Compounding the angst is the advent of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that offer opportunities for enhancing operational performance but add additional, integration issues.

The result of all this is that building managers are forced to tend to systems individually. It’s wildly inefficient and ineffective as technicians limit their operational scope to a singular system rather than gaining a holistic view of how these systems operate in unison and what adjustments can be made to achieve greater efficiency. No system operates in a vacuum. These systems are interrelated and need to be treated accordingly.

While smart systems are the ideal launching point for building managers to make necessary adjustments within

their facility operations, this isn’t sufficient to provide the insights into how, where, or when to integrate such improvements. Building managers need systems that communicate seamlessly and display essential data in a uniform and meaningful manner.

Standardization is the Key to the BAS Castle

The good news is recent advances are lowering barriers to implementing analytics. In days gone by, building systems were simply gathers of data, making it available for facility managers to analyze. The problem is that each data set tends to speak its own language. While it may be easier to access the information today, building managers are missing the ability to review it unitarily and use common metrics to make impactful decisions.

Thankfully, significant progress has been made to solve this problem. A great example is the Haystack schema that aims to standardize semantic data models and simplify interpretation of data collected across operational systems. Professional analytics tools, like my company’s BuildingFitTM, have further demystified the puzzle of how to achieve greater energy efficiency through technological features. For example, the BuildingFit preferencing tool is powerful because it uses machine learning to standardize diverse data across different platforms. This approach normalizes data points to enable “apples-to-apples” comparisons, ultimately unifying system data into easy- to-understand insights.

This approach to standardize data and analytics helps facility management make smarter decisions and make them faster. As an example, it enabled Banner Health to leverage facility data that yielded a cost savings of $3.8 million in annual energy savings across a multitude of facilities.

Leveraging Service Providers and the Secure Cloud

Enlightened facility managers are taking advantage
of two market trends to accelerate the successful implementation of smart building technologies. Many are realizing a quick and effective way to adopt analytics in their facilities is partnering with competent service providers with a focus on providing building analytics solutions. Innovative energy engineering, commissioning, and systems integrators, in turn, are providing data analytics as a core service offering. Meantime, enhanced security software tools allow cloud access to dashboards and building data that keeps information secure while providing increased access to building operations across geographies and diverse team members.

SaaS Lowers Barriers

There are significant benefits by working with an analytics vendor with a software as a service (SaaS) model. With SaaS, instead of paying for expensive, upfront licensing

costs, users pay a lower subscription fee. With software costs spread over time, users see a much faster ROI. This model offers other benefits, such as automatic and easy software upgrades and improvements, which are usually included with the subscription. Many of the barriers of implementing data analytics software are simply removed with SaaS.

Getting it Right

Looking into the future of smart systems and buildings, the myth that needs busted is that meaningful data analysis requires individualized attention to each facility system. To get it right, the appropriate software platform that proactively standardizes the data collected across systems to make analysis more readily decipherable and actionable must be chosen. Those that recognize this will reap significant benefits later.

It’s not our technology that’s trapped in the 20th Century. The good news is, we already have an established path to success. We can overcome the lack of standardization surrounding BAS technologies and the data they present that make us feel like we are still dreading the Y2K bug.

If you follow the model of embracing a standardized approach to data analytics, leverage service providers, and rely on the secure cloud, building managers can effectively modernize legacy systems and make more decisive and cost-effective decisions in their facilities.

Introducing SkySpark’s New Workflow Application

SkySpark recently released a new workflow solution at SkyPosium 2020 and highlighted in this article.  Actionable insights generated through BuildingFit Analytics will identify issues that can be addressed and managed through SkySpark’s integrated workflow application.  Using notes, workorders and tickets, you can resolve items and realize savings.

Skyfoundry’s new workflow tool enables building operators to collect and manage building data with greater accuracy and efficiency. This is a great value to the BuildingFit analytics platform as the accuracy of the reporting and analytics becomes more precise and more actionable. Good data “IN” means good data “OUT” and increases speed to resolution when issues arise.

 

Download the full PDF here.

Introducing SkySpark’s New Workflow Application

 

Monitoring-Based Commissioning

What is Monitoring-based Commissioning (MBCx)?

With so much invested in and supported by our many buildings, how can we keep them performing at maximum efficiency, while ensuring the safety and comfort of its occupants?  That’s a frequently asked question by investors, executives, property owners and facility managers.   For real answers to these questions, most folks look to the experts – monitoring-based commissioning and energy engineers.

What is Monitoring-based Commissioning (MBCx)?

It is a building services approach to sustain building performance utilizing a technology driven solution that includes energy management and information systems. Understanding monitoring-based commissioning starts with differentiating it from other Existing Building Commissioning (ECBx) practices. EBCx services include Retro/Re Commissioning, Ongoing and Monitoring Based Commissioning services.  MBCx typically follows EBCx and NBCx methods or can be launched as a separate service. An MBCx solution leverages automation which allows all equipment to be monitored on a continuous basis, instead of a sample set.

A monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) technology solution uses analytics to deliver clear insights and recommendations that facility management use to maintain and improve building performance.  Analytics delivered through automated reports and interactive dashboards, enable a data-drive approach that provides the guidance around not only what needs to be done but determines the priority  – like what will deliver the most value.

Monitoring-based commissioning produces many benefits including a reduction in energy waste by up to 15%.  Other key results include extending mechanical equipment life, by identifying and implementing low cost operational improvements. Through the MBCx process, facility operators can monitor their building equipment and systems on a continuous basis using energy and performance data. The process is usually focused on HVAC and lighting system performance but can also be applied to other systems.

 

Here are few of the key benefits behind a data-driven, technology approach:

  • Analytics rapidly analyze thousands of building system components, enabling identification and savings opportunities by eliminating energy waste in a way that is not cost-effective with manual analysis
  • When system performance drifts from optimal, analytics catch the issues so they can be resolved before turning into problems that impact occupant comfort, safety and system reliability
  • Improving Energy efficiency from reducing energy waste, lowering utility costs and extending equipment life result in significant cost savings and higher building profitability.

Monitoring-Based Commissioning Diagram

 

Monitoring-Based Commissioning Diagram

 

Monitor: compile aggregate and visualize data from a variety of a sources (BAS, utility bills, weather, etc.)

Discover: Sift through operational data using analytics, automated software, and machine learning to identify evidence-based energy performance opportunities

Upgrade: Work with qualified contractors to fix, reprogram, replace, or recalibrate your building equipment

Verify: Examine and ensure system compliance, your equipment’s performance and quantify savings using analytics and key performance indicators

Optimize: Continuously monitor KPIs (key performance indicators) and analytics to protect your investment and improved performance using interactive dashboards and automated reports.

Using the correct and inclusive data, analytics can deliver clear insights and recommendations that facility management can use to achieve their goals.  Clarity can be delivered through interactive dashboards and reports, including:

  • Monitoring-based Commissioning Dashboard
  • Energy Report
  • Comfort Report
  • Compliance Report
  • Enterprise or Facility Reporting

 

Sample Facility Report with Energy Usage

Sample Facility Report with Energy Usage

This Facility Energy Report example clearly shows target Energy Use Intensity (EUI) against real building performance and savings opportunities.

The Enterprise Energy Report clearly shows target Energy Use Intensity (EUI) against real building performance across multiple facilities.

Enterprise Energy Report

The Comfort Report helps facility management monitor and track various metrics to help keep occupants comfortable.

Data quality is critical to making any technology solution a success.  The same is true in a monitoring-based commissioning program.  Collection, aggregation and normalization of data from the BAS, utility bills, IoT devices, and weather are usually required.  Upon compiling a list of all equipment needed for diagnostic tasks, ensure all data is accurately identified and captured.  Analytics, key performance indicators and trends should be deployed to align with the goals of the project and building, which typically ensure ongoing sustainability of how the building was initially configured.  Visualization of this data will make it easy to continually measure and monitor the building’s performance, thus reinforcing the value of a data-driven, technology approach to monitoring-based commissioning.

Request a monitoring-based commission demo/consultant/call today »

 

BuildingFit

Building Fit
+1-385-246-3759
contact@BuildingFit.com

1997 South 1100 East
Salt lake City, Utah, 84106

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