Building analytics play key role in system optimization

A building’s operating costs, including utility usage, accounts for a significant percentage of a building owner’s costs — as much as 75 percent of a building’s total cost during its life. In addition, commercial buildings account for roughly 36 percent of all electrical consumption in the United States. Data taken from previous studies, audits and retro-commissioning activities show that as much as 30 percent of that consumption is lost to inefficient systems and operational practices.

Many facilities have an automated building management system (BMS) that integrates and monitors the various systems that control and manage operations in the structure, including HVAC, security, access control, elevators, fire alarms and lighting systems. While these building management systems have provided improvements to building system performance, often the information gathered only provides snapshots of current operations, recent trends in energy consumption and/or alarm notifications related to failed equipment.

However, recent expansion of BMS, along with the addition of third-party software, has greatly increased the collection and analysis of building data, moving into the area of true asset management by examining patterns, correlating data from the various systems and combining it with real-time data. These upgraded systems use building analytics to identify operational issues that that are causing inefficiency and waste, often converting the data into actionable intelligence. Many refer to this process as continuous, monitoring-based commissioning.

Use of the collected data in programmed algorithms can provide automated fault detection and diagnostics (FDD), predicting when systems are “out of tune” and identifying the culprit. In addition, many of these systems gather data from additional internal and external sources, including weather forecasts, building occupancy profiles, utility rate structures, etc., for use in their analysis and predictions.

The most sophisticated building analytic systems are adaptive and self-learning, not only identifying corrections and/or improvements that need to be made, but implementing them without human interaction.

Along with preventative maintenance, building analytics (incorporating FDD and automated energy management) have become critical to maintaining optimized operation of today’s building systems.

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