How to make an energy-efficient building for the 21st century

With demands coming from both corporate sustainability goals and government regulations, many property managers are looking for ways to optimize the energy efficiency of their buildings, but for some, the question is not so much why – but how.

Many company work places have been in operation for quite some time. When these facilities were built, energy efficiency standards were not nearly as stringent as they are now, and technology was not at the level that it is today. This has led some building systems to be quite dated, leading many facility operators to seek out energy-efficient solutions that will bring their workplace’s systems into the 21st century.

Designing a smarter building
A recent article in Consulting Specifying Engineer interviewed several professionals involved in the building optimization systems design process to help provide property managers with the proper knowledge to retrofit a building that is not up to new energy-efficiency standards. When approaching a new building, one professional noted that among the important things to consider are the complexities of the system, and how, if at all, the energy consumption of the building is being tracked. Once these intricacies have been noted, the next step is to devise a new solution unique to the building’s specific energy consumption habits.

One of the common problems that professional Peter Zak noted was the lack of interface between systems operating within the building. Much of facility’s infrastructure can work to address similar issues independently. For example, a building’s boiler, lighting, windows and Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems can all contribute to controlling air temperature. However, when this equipment is all working separately, there is now way of knowing how much each system contributes toward air temperature, which can lead to an over expenditure of energy.

Using an effective BAS
One way to address this issue, Zak explains, is through the usage of a Building Automation System (BAS), which controls all of the equipment operating within a facility. With the internet’s growing presence in technology, BASs can maintain greater control of how the various building operations function, and in doing so, control them to optimize their energy consumption.

An article in Today’s Facility Manager explains how BASs are becoming more open systems that provide greater and more wide spanning control. One important control element that these systems provide is in their ability to optimize energy consumption specific to the building. While many of the old workplaces were built with similar system lines applied across multiple buildings, the BAS can tailor the operation of multiple systems to meet the specific needs that the professionals in Consulting Specifying Engineer identified when they first approach a new facility.

Another important function of the BAS is that it can wirelessly track energy consumption through system controls. With the increasing presence of applications that can fine tune these systems remotely, wireless controls are now essential to a BAS. This allows for greater integration and communication between systems, resulting in energy-efficient optimization based on building situations rather than specific systems.

Visit CCI’s website for more information on building integration,  Niagara and the Sedona Framework.

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