How DC Does Building Analytics


by Terry Herr, Intellimation

In a densely populated metro like the City of Washington DC, heating and cooling buildings consumes the most energy and makes the largest contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG ) emissions. DC’s built environment contributes 75% of all its GHG emissions, which is almost double the national average of 38%. In 2013, the District’s Department of General Services launched a new energy-efficiency retrofit program for owned properties and engaged an energy consultancy to lead and coordinate the efforts. By summer that year, the BuildSmart DC platform was up, with a page dedicated to almost every District property. This website discloses metered energy data to building operators and the public from local Potomac area utility, Pepco.

While energy data is valuable, it is 100 times more valuable when you add building operational data.

The District’s building energy managers wanted to take their efforts to this next level by bringing the data streaming from Building Automation Systems (BAS) to an open source platform where it can be used to enable ongoing commissioning with automated Fault Detection and Diagnostics software and possibly other dashboard visualization programs in the future. For this expertise, they hired Intellimation LLC.

 We found Trendr from BuildingRobotics for trending and archiving.

Trendr allows us to overcome the capacity constraints of legacy BAS boxes. We can trend most, if not all, available BAS data points—hundreds of thousands of points across the portfolio, without worrying about capacity or the affordability of storage. These comprehensive ‘data lakes’ are what is required to effectively deploy AFDD analytics. Next, Trendr got us past the tedious, cumbersome process of trending points manually.  Without Trendr, it would take us 6 to 12 mouse clicks to create a trend log in a typical BAS.  We can place a Trendr anywhere on the BAS network and, in one click, trend all points in the system. The system auto-polls the BACnet points without having to configure the local BMS, saving us from having to know all the addresses.  So there is no need to involve the BAS vendor at all.

With Trendr, we can be pushing data within four to eight hours of walking on site when the site is native BACnet.

What can take hours or even days to create in a BAS — 1 to 2 thousand trend logs — takes 30 minutes with Trendr.  Also, with Trendr all the data stays within the firewall.  And, Trendr imposes no constraints concerning either BAS or AFDD vendor selections. It sits in the middle and is neutral. The data originates in the BAS system and flows through sMAP and then on to an AFDD vendor via a standard API. Any BAS or FDD vendor could be replaced without replacing Trendr.

Read the whole story in the May issue of

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