Altura Pioneers Building Performance Commissioning Guided by Operational-Data-Based Diagnostics
The Connected Building Commissioning (CBCx) process of Energy Engineering services firm, Altura Associates, exemplifies yet another approach to whole-building/whole-portfolio energy assessment. This involves on-site connection to the building management system (BMS) to extract realtime data from thousands of measured HVAC, water and lighting points and feeding this to the cloud-based SkySpark™ fault detection and analytics platform from SkyFoundry. From this diagnostic scan, a detailed set of building system-specific rules is extracted. This results in a fast and deep understanding of systems performance and the discovery of improvement opportunities.
Altura’s Matt Schwartz is using this Connected Building Commissioning process for client Pacific Medical Buildings (PMB) of Southern California. Early program results have delivered energy cost savings of over 20% per building, representing annual cost savings of more than $65,000 across just two buildings.
According to Schwartz, “Analytics is not a box that sits on the wall. You cannot get the job done front-to-back with a hands-off remote approach. By plugging right into the BMS, we’re not working on ‘Big Data,’ as much as working on the ‘Right Data’. Our mix of onsite engagement plus cloud analytics includes meeting with staff and tenants so we understand the ‘people’ component. With this combination, we’ve been able to knock these assessments out building-by-building, at an investment on the part of our client that is relatively low, while returns are high.”
The CBCx process has allowed the team to uncover issues which might otherwise have gone unnoticed, or been deemed too time consuming to troubleshoot. The SkySpark visualizations above reveal how a rooftop HVAC system for one of the facilities was experiencing a high frequency of cycling due to poor system tuning and control. With a relatively simple fix (new control logic and tuning parameters), the system was tuned and tested to decrease the cycling frequency. As a result, the equipment is now at a much lower risk of failure, comfort control is improved, and operational costs were significantly reduced.