What are the barriers to install Monitoring-Based Commissioning?

What are the barriers to install Monitoring-Based Commissioning?

The Market

                We all know the cost of our utilities are not going down, we all want to reduce our consumption and improve the occupants comfort as well as improve our maintenance operations.  Many corporations have long term sustainability goals to reduce their carbon footprint, energy usage, GHG (Green House Gas) or any other category they want to define.

One example, is Dell/EMC’s sustainability goal to “Reduce global absolute GHG emissions, Scopes 1 and 2 (MTCO2e) market-based, by 40% from a FY11 baseline”  (GHG Emission -29% is generated from Electricity and 27% from Transportation  – Source – EPA – https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions.

Many, like Dell/EMC, have started their journey with LED lighting retrofits, installing variable speed drives, renewable energy like solar panels; as well as, many other low hanging fruit projects.  Those changes have made great strides in attaining net zero– but how do they make sure they get all the way to their goals and maintain it?

What are the barriers for these companies? Here is what I hear:

Are acronyms and technology terms confusing?  BAS, BIM, EMS, BIS, BEMS, RTEM, EMIS, FDD

Many vendors and industry analyst are trying to establish new terms to identify this market for Monitoring and Analyzing the performance of Buildings and their Equipment.   This tends to confuse the buyer. Is it an Energy Management System – which is just data collection from the meters with trending and dashboards?  It is a Building Information System that includes data collection and integrates controls of HVAC and Lighting?   Is it a demand management system?

The Smart Energy Analytics Org defines an all-encompassing category of EMIS – “Energy Management and Information Systems are the broad and rapidly evolving family of tools that monitor, analyze, and control building energy use and system performance. These technologies include benchmarking and utility bill tracking software, energy information systems (EIS), building automation systems, fault detection and diagnostic tools, and automated system optimization software.”

Do MBCx Systems provide real ROI?

Monitoring Based Commissioning Systems (MBCx) have been around for many years and early on there was a benchmarking study done by Lawrence Berkley Lab in 2009.  Quoted from Evan Mills report “Median energy cost savings were $0.25/sf-year, for a median simple payback time of 2.5 years. Significant and cost-effective energy savings were thus obtained. The greatest absolute energy savings and shortest payback times were achieved in laboratory-type facilities.”  They also determined from that same report regarding the costs – “We observed a range of normalized costs from $0.37 to 1.62/sf, with a median value of $1.00/sf for buildings that implemented MBCx projects” and that was back in 2009.  Now with costs of these Cloud-Based Solutions like FacilityConneX it ranges from $0.10/sf to $0.50/sf which considerably improves the ROI to less than 1 year in many cases.

Results are REAL – from the Lawrence Berkeley Report by Evan Mills shows:

  • “From these interventions flowed significant and highly cost-effective energy savings For the MBCx cohort, source energy savings of 22 kBTU/sf-year (10%) were achieved, with a range of 2% to 25%. Median electricity savings were 1.9 kWh/sf-year (9%), with a range of 1% to 17%. Peak electrical demand savings were 0.2 W/sf-year (4%), with a range of 3% to 11%.”

Industry Analyst Predict Large Growth in this Market Space

So How Can Facility, Sustainability, Energy Managers get prepared and get started?

The journey will have many steps, but simply:

  1. Data Gathering – Documentation – Yes, the most difficult part sometimes is to have the proper documentation on your operational sequences (how it was designed to work), as-builts, equipment, BMS control sequences and the tag listing of all the points in the systems with their descriptions. If you have all this, not only can you get better pricing, but the startup and commissioning is reduced significantly.  Work with your Control Systems Vendor to make sure you have their partnership in this and it will go smooth.
  2. Connecting – IT – Collaborate with IT because they can be your friend in this project, if not they can be a road block to getting the installation and security set properly. Having IT involved from the beginning also helps with a smooth start up as well as supporting the technology.
    • Make sure the vendor can connect to all your control systems – not just your main BMS – but your electric or water meters, or boiler or chiller control systems – that may be on a separate PLC (Programmable Logic Controller). The vendor will need to have the ability to connect and collect that data.
    • Collecting other pertinent information; such as, occupancy schedules (which may be in an Excel spreadsheet file (.xls or .csv) will be helpful for correlating data to occupant requirements.
    • Also, consider if there is manual data entry that is relevant in the analysis of your building’s energy use or if data needs to be pushed to the field; such as, standard operating procedures, regulatory data collection, etc.
  3. Collecting – How long will you need to keep the data you are collecting – 1 year – 5 years? This will also determine additional costs but discuss this upfront and be clear.  What type of granularity will you need – 1 sec, 30 sec, 15 min?  Can this be done and what will that cost?  What advantage will that have for me to have that history?
  4. Mapping – Now that you have all the tags being collected from your equipment, they need to be mapped to a model of your equipment and buildings. Discuss and strategically map this out for the easiest way for Maintenance and Operations to understand when navigating the system.  This will drive how the analytics and alarms work in your system (i.e. by building, by floor, by tenant, by department, etc.).
  5. Validating – The results of the visualization and analytics will need to be validated by your team to verify that the results are not giving false positives. Sensors and equipment in the beginning are going to need to be calibrated because the analytics will be using this data to provide results.  This will take time and your team will need to be very involved to make sure this is accurate.  You may need to add more sensors to help the analytics improve over time and the payback on that is usually very quick.

    FacilityConneX Voice Trending and Analytics Results
  6. Analyzing – Be Educated on the solutions – Industry Leading Analytics that identify the root cause of the problem and the faults that are causing system problems is critical to the long-term success of the project. The right analytics can point your operations and maintenance team to the equipment to be fixed or the control sequence that needs tweaking and this optimizes the energy savings and improves the asset life expectancy.  Don’t feel you need to enable all the analytics at first – most likely you will not have all the digital sensors in place, but plan to install them over the next few years.  It is not required to have all equipment with sensors to realize value from the system, but it will help improve the ROI of the system as equipment is more thoroughly instrumented.

    FacilityConneX Voice Severity Distribution
  7. Consulting – Each month, review the dashboards and analytic results with your customer experience engineer that is very familiar with your facility. Provide feedback, come prepared to each meeting with repairs that have been done and engage in the process.  This will help change your culture to be more proactive, preventative and predictive.

This process begins the maintenance and capital planning cycles of measure, analyze, implement/repair, and plan.  The Monitoring-Based Commissioning system will continue to prioritize faults and provide actionable insight to fix the costliest repairs, which will improve the efficiency of your operations and maintenance.  You will also have the ability to provide justification to both ownership and the utilities for incentives and rebates.  In turn, that will allow you to improve the life of your assets, lower your energy costs and help you achieve your GHG and Sustainability Goals.



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