Building automation, control and GPS

HVAC service contractors familiar with building automation and control have lots of opportunities to expand traditional energy service offerings by adding the installation of information and analytics hardware and accompanying software to their mix. A growing number of software developers offer solutions that address building systems monitoring and optimization. One of them, BuildingLogiX, offers a suite of applications which HVAC contractors can offer clients looking to maximize facility-wide building performance.

BuildingLogiX, www.buildinglogix.net, is a system of three components: hardware, software applications and the services that tie the entire system together. The solution is powered by the Niagara AX Framework, a software technology designed to integrate diverse systems and devices that supports a wide range of protocols including LonWorks, BACnet, Modbus, oBIX and Internet standards. It is an open source system, which enables inclusion of a broad scope of software and hardware systems from multiple manufacturers and providers.

BuildingLogiX provides the software and controllers to manage any and all equipment that runs a building and its systems. The software falls under two general categories: HVAC control applications and information and analysis applications.

HVAC control applications include an air system optimizer program and a chiller system optimization program. The air system optimizer allows a contractor to enable advanced features for any VAV air handling unit in order to add capabilities such as supply air reset, demand ventilation, and outside air reset. The chiller system optimization typically provides sequencing and scheduling of the chiller plant and allows for capturing, saving and printing an automatic diagnostic or operating log, retrievable at any time by service personnel.

There are several BuildingLogiX monitoring applications a building manager can use to troubleshoot building irregularities down to the component level, a capability that enables incremental changes that can increase savings and efficiency facility wide.

For example, EnergyLogiX is a web-based dashboard which allows real-time monitoring of energy and compares multiple buildings against each other in a user-friendly animated chart. It can track any utility or meter-able point, including steam, hot water, chilled water, electric, gas, irrigation, and consumption water. It includes the capability of translating the data into units per square foot, enabling comparison of consumption in spaces or buildings in equal settings (regardless of their size) into cost per square foot or consumption per square foot. This type of information can locate an otherwise undetected problem which needs addressing or clarify the larger extent of what may have been seen as only a minor issue.

TrendView, which records information for the entire building, allows the user to compare data over time, with the information used as a diagnostic tool to determine mechanical or programming issues. It shows the trends on a colorful graph. Users can adjust the recording intervals for every point of data or control information. For example, personnel can trend use at every air handling point, every chiller point, every rooftop point, as well as every lighting control, access control, irrigation, elevator or escalator, any place data is collected. According to the developer, it can correlate many different kinds of events back to the impact on the performance or operating cost of the building.

The EcoRate application is a web-based performance dashboard that tracks electricity, gas and CO2 emissions and overall building rate.

BACbone is an analytics platform that enables search engine capabilities for a Building Automation System (BAS). It translates BAS operating data into a database environment that enables searchable queries customizable by the operator to search for exceptions in performance, verification of activity and validation of performance.

Dashboard of a Different Sort
Here's another type of dashboard solution. This is for tracking fleet vehicles: where they are, how and when they got there, and what they're doing along the way. Benefits of all that data and the ability to act on it can result in lower fuel and labor costs, improved productivity, extended fleet life, improved driver safety, and a greener operation.

Here's one entry in that category: The GPS Insight Fleet Tracking Solution (GPS Insight, www/gpsinsight.com) is a web-based software for real-time monitoring, dispatching, and managing fleet vehicles. Accessible from any computer or mobile device, including smart phones, with Internet access, it enables users to view a real-time dashboard that is a snapshot of a fleet's activity. Moveable windows provide insight via real-time maps, vehicle location lists, configurable alerts, graphs, messages and other details.

The software supports browser-based full screen, hybrid and satellite mapping with configurable vehicle group icon shapes. It also provides real-time traffic data and the ability to one-click to a zoomed location, landmark creation (which enables management to set parameters to trigger alerts if breached), driving directions, messaging and activity trails.

Optional routing capabilities can be used to proactively assign the best routes for the day or the next stop.

More than 30 fleet tracking reports that are accessible online, by email, or viewed in Excel include all reported locations for each vehicle, first and last stops for any or all vehicles, summary of fleet driving statistics, odd-hours violations, idle time for each vehicle, details about fuel card transactions and DOT-style graphical driver logs, diagnostics including fuel usage and MPG, run time, and maintenance service reminders, plus notifications of speeding instances with location data for each, and various kinds of stop details.

Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].

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