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Software solutions for contractors looking to optimizing energy use, locate equipment

Jan. 7, 2014
BuildingIQ, www.buildingiq.com, is a web-based SaaS (software as a service) solution platform designed to optimize energy use in commercial buildings that have a Building Automation System, an Internet connection, and the support of the maintenance team. HVAC Equipment Locator for the Apple iPhone and iPad by Carmel Software, www.carmelsoft.com/HVACEquipLocato, is a mobile app that allows users to input information about all of their HVAC equipment, upload the data to a safe and secure remote server in the cloud, and share information about that equipment with other technicians within the company equipped with web-enabled mobile devices. Fieldlens, www.fieldlens.com, is a mobile field management app that offers a central place for construction project participants to track and manage various issues that arise on the jobsite.

BuildingIQ, www.buildingiq.com, is a web-based SaaS (software as a service) solution platform designed to optimize energy use in commercial buildings that have a Building Automation System, an Internet connection, and the support of the maintenance team. The solution aims to save on energy costs while maintaining or improving comfort and improve the carbon footprint of the buildings.

The software, which works with a building’s control system and uses real-time consumption and demand data from the utility providing the service, automatically fine tunes and controls HVAC systems by making small changes in temperature and pressure set points throughout the day which, says the developer, could save customers 10% to 25% in HVAC energy costs and potentially add up to 20 points to their LEED scores.

Based on specific inputs — data on the local weather forecast, the occupancy of the building, energy prices, tariffs and demand response signals — the software runs thousands of simulations to arrive at the most efficient HVAC operating strategy for the next 24 hours. BuildingIQ then communicates to the BMS to make changes at the air handling units (AHUs).

Depending on prevailing energy rates and building attributes, the installation of BuildingIQ can, notes the developer, yield positive cash flow immediately upon installation.

The software uses artificial intelligence algorithms to learn about a building’s energy characteristics. After the initial system is deployed and operating, the software continues to listen and learn and improve the building’s performance.

HVAC Equipment Locator for the Apple iPhone and iPad by Carmel Software, www.carmelsoft.com/HVACEquipLocato, is a mobile app that allows users to input information about all of their HVAC equipment, upload the data to a safe and secure remote server in the cloud, and share information about that equipment with other technicians within the company equipped with web-enabled mobile devices.

The app, which adjusts the user interface according to the device used, identifies equipment by GPS coordinates, with the GPS coordinates becoming the equipment's globally unique identifier, allowing the user to input and retrieve information about it just by standing next to or near it.

Users can input all basic and maintenance-related information about a customer’s HVAC equipment so as to keep a centralized record of this data, take pictures and assign the pictures to the equipment or individual maintenance events, and store the GPS coordinates of the equipment so that when the user returns to it, the information will automatically appear on the screen.

Equipment information can be uploaded to a centralized web server (the Carmel Building Equipment Model Server, www.carmelsoft.com/EL) so project managers and others can view it for further analysis and/or edit it on desktop computers using a standard web browser and then download the updated information, in turn, to other permitted users' mobile devices.

Inputs on the HVAC Equipment Locator can include basic information such as, for an A/C unit: equipment name, description, make, model No., serial No. and more detailed information including volts/phase, age, unit type, compressor type, refrigerant type, filter and belt sizes, and a series of specific notes on the tasks performed.

Equipment information can be exported in a standard format so it can be inputted into a company’s back-end accounting and financial software system.

As of this writing, this app and the corresponding cloud service are free to use. Carmel Software notes that eventually there will be a “modest monthly fee” to use the cloud service.

Fieldlens, www.fieldlens.com, is a mobile field management app that offers a central place for construction project participants to track and manage various issues that arise on the jobsite. General contractors, sub-contractors, owners and others can communicate and collaborate in real time using time-stamped communications inputted into the app. Cost is $15/user per month if paid annually, $20/user per month if paid monthly.

Users can issue tasks, safety items and deficiencies, and create field reports utilizing any of several multi-media tools including photo-markup, video and voice-notes. All users can create project observations and issue custom reports to anyone via PDF, spreadsheet, or a link to a web-based report that can include rich multi-media.

The app, which includes a directory of project contacts, enables a trackable audit trail for easy retrieval of project-related communications and documentation.

Because Fieldlens works on iOS, Android, and the Web, it can be used on any smartphone, tablet or computer. The app works fully online and any updates made offline will automatically upload once the user has a connection.

DeWalt Mobile Pro App, http://www.dewalt.cengage.com/mobilepro/, available free for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, is a calculation and reference tool designed for construction pros. In addition to serving as a general construction calculator it is customizable with calculations and corresponding reference materials for a specific trade (for a fee), soon to include HVAC and plumbing. Users can share calculations and results by email and refer to any previous calculations in stored history.

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

About the Author

William and Patti Feldman

Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products.

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