9/30/2015 12:29 PM
Bill Cramer, Assistant Director for Facilities at Virginia Commonwealth University, reported more than $36,000 in energy savings and a 7-month return on investment after implementing Events2HVAC in 33 rooms of the Student Commons. The software has exceeded Cramer’s expectations in both ease of use and energy savings.
“It went beyond my expectations,” Cramer said, “because usually I’ve found with software implementations there’s a significant amount of configuration that is required to actually get the thing up and running and get the bugs worked out of it. After we set it [Events2HVAC] up, I don’t think I touched it for the next couple of months. We monitored it to see how it was performing, and it was one of the smoothest software implementations I’ve ever had.”
After Events2HVAC was implemented, Cramer tracked energy savings related to electricity, gas, and water used each month in the Student Commons. Since electricity makes up 75% of the building’s utility bills, it was his primary focus when he presented his results to administrators.
“The university uses a tracking system called EnergyCap,” Cramer explained, “and all of our utility bills are entered into that system. So I was able to pull our energy records from that system and into a spreadsheet. I only chose to compare the previous year to our current year to keep the graph from having too many lines on it.”
The dollar figures in the graph above represent the electricity cost savings for each of the first six months after Events2HVAC was implemented. Cramer said the actual savings are higher than what was estimated by their engineering contractor before the project was approved.
Though these results are impressive for a single building, this is not the whole picture.
“We actually are showing higher overall cost savings when looking at the total energy package,” he explained. “For gas, we’re looking at, from previous year to current year, a decrease of 12.6% for our daily average use. Water, we’re looking at a daily average usage decrease, previous year to current year, of 6.4%. And that’s the previous total year. The numbers would be slightly different if I could pull just the period from December to June.” (Events2HVAC was implemented in December 2014.)
Before implementing Events2HVAC, VCU was doing very little energy management in the Student Commons.
“About 95% of the building was on 24/7,” Cramer said. “We would only really utilize shutting the building down for holidays, weekends – when the building was totally closed.”
Today, Events2HVAC pulls schedules for all of the event spaces in the Student Commons from VCU’s campus-wide Dean Evans EMS system, and sends occupied/unoccupied commands to the Commons’ Tridium controls. General use spaces such as hallways, restrooms and offices are on a daily building schedule. But when an event occurs outside of the daily building hours, overrides are automatic.
“If we are closed on the weekend or over the summer,” Cramer explained, “and there is an event scheduled, I don’t need to go in and create a special opening for that. The system will automatically determine, once that command is initiated to make the space occupied, the rest of the common spaces will also be occupied.”
Though energy savings was one of Cramer’s motivations for this implementation, the complexity of HVAC scheduling and frequent schedule changes also weighed into his decision. He wanted to make the entire system easier to use, so he hired Tridium contractor Mid-Atlantic Controls to add some custom programming. The extra programming added to the implementation cost, but added some ease-of-use benefits.
“We have several different individuals who support our operations,” Cramer said. “It enabled those different teams to have a better understanding of how the system is being controlled, and also how to control the system. That’s in regards to scheduling, and to see how the Events2HVAC software is controlling the system. They set up little things like an indicator light to let us know if the Events2HVAC software has commanded the building automation system for whatever is happening, and also to see if the systems are connected.”
“That programming they set up also helped us with cost savings with the entire implementation,” Cramer added. “Instead of each of the points being connected through the Events2VHAC software, the configuration of those points were done through the BAS system, which enabled greater control in case there was something wrong with the university network or anything. We’re still able to take control over the entire system through those singular points within our system that control the zones. So basically we can turn them from occupied to unoccupied and override any commands that Events2HVAC may be sending.”
But perhaps the most important aspect of this project is that ongoing management of Events2HVAC does not require any additional labor hours.
“One of the best parts of the system is that it operates by itself.” Cramer said. “I’ve only needed to make adjustments to it maybe two or three times – just slight adjustments to some of the timing windows for when the system actually engages based upon the reservation start time. So that’s been one of the beauties of the system – that it operates fully automatically by itself.”
Events2HVAC Event Automation Software (www.events2hvac.com) is designed to save your facility energy, labor, and money by integrating your facility's event/room reservation system directly to the room's environmental controls.
Lighting, door access, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning can all be turned on and off or adjusted automatically based on the scheduled events for that room.
Founded in 1998, Streamside Solutions provides software products, solutions and services for the building automation industry.
Phone: (888) 320-4277
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