Persistent Energy Efficiency In Buildings

By Brent Grimm, PE, and Jane Guyer, PE, CxA

The info in this specific article was originally presented at CxEnergy 2021, an annual conference presented by the AABC Commissioning Group (ACG), the power Management Association (EMA), and the Associated Air Balance Council (AABC).

T his article explores effective means of utilizing a monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) program alongside HVAC analytics to generate and keep maintaining a high-performing building. This content comes from over six years of successful deployment and operation of MBCx programs in diverse industry sectors.

We shall discuss why a robust program is required to maintain building performance, and what bits of the organizational structure have to be set up to implement an effective program. We shall also discuss guidelines in leveraging MBCx services with data analytics software to handle not merely energy efficiency, but compliance and occupant comfort.

(Credit: Getty Images/ Xanya69)


The idea of “persistent energy efficiency” here implies a robust monitoring-based commissioning program that utilizes advanced analytics to permit a comparatively small team to monitor the performance of a lot of buildings.

Why do you want MBCx and an analytics platform? Even though commissioning team for a fresh building tests building operation and ensures certain requirements outlined in the sequence are increasingly being met, it generally does not guarantee longterm, high efficiency performance. Actually, it’s very common to see building performance degrade immediately almost. By establishing a long-term MBCx program, you may make sure building continues to use while maintaining occupant comfort and reducing operating costs efficiently.

Stakeholder Roles

When many think about monitoring-based commissioning, they think about analytics software and reporting first. While those are essential components of an MBCx program, they will be useless with out a proper organizational structure and planned workflow. It’s the social people and the procedure that turns analytics into actual savings. There are many key roles in the structure outlined here. This isn’t to say that is the only solution to tackle this nagging problem, but they are the minimum amount of elements recommended.

The website champion generally oversees the complete MBCx process including buy-in from management, the analytics platform selection, and managing program structure.

The website level monitor actually monitors the analytics at each one of the sites. Creating a good relationship and getting buy-in from facility staff is essential to make assembling your project successful. They offer invaluable insight and information not gleaned from software.

The final position may be the Superuser, an external hire for a fresh MBCx program usually. This person should be a specialist with the analytics software and with the capacity of rapidly conducting a niche site analysis. To be able to realize the entire potential of the scheduled program, this position is vital. Their role would be to monitor the facility, help rank priority of work, train others, and use the analytics software to boost it to fit the requirements of the facility.

Another piece is ensuring good relationships with controls vendors, chiller maintenance companies, along with other service providers who’ll be performing the required work identified by the MBCx program.


Once issues are identified utilizing the analytics platform, you should integrate them in to the organization’s current workflow. Most facilities curently have their very own computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software set up, so generally this is a matter to getting data from one software application to another. This is finished with custom connectors that allow data to flow between your two programs, or accomplished with manual data entry. Whichever the technique, it is key to create a path where MBCx issues become work orders which are distributed to plant level mechanics and technicians.

Using Advanced Analytics

With a foundation set up, we are able to begin exploring great things about advanced analytics and the fault detection and diagnostic (FDD) platform. Generally advanced data analytics pull data from the building automation system (BAS), and also other external resources, such as for example meters, compressed air systems, or lab specific systems possibly. Using this data alongside programmed rules, which are condition-based algorithms and custom data roll ups, with the ability to convert a “swamp of data” into something quickly digested by way of a person or group.

One area where analytics excel is FDD to recognize low hanging fruit which has quick payback. Catching rooms operating beyond their occupied hours is a superb example. Without software running analytics it’s rather a manual process to locate these available rooms. Most analytics platforms run a huge selection of these rules, revealing savings quickly. In a single instance, we demonstrated more complex usage of the analytics for efficiency. We used key performance indicators, which are roll-ups of select data over a period. One useful KPI: the sum of the all condenser water pump power enabled us to catch a significant efficiency issue in which a bug in the BAS caused all condenser water pumps to suddenly operate at full speed. Pump power sum rose from 100 kw to 235 kw! This may have led to an annual penalty of ~$95,000, which may pay for around three years of MBCx. This might likely go unnoticed as because the condenser water temperature setpoint has been met long. Using KPIs such as this we can monitor a niche site at a higher level rapidly.

Advanced Analytics for Comfort. While efficiency is normally the way the MBCx program pays for itself, this means nothing if occupants aren’t comfortable! Therefore, selecting an analytics platform that may monitor all areas of building performance is essential. In Figure 1, your client is supplied by us with here is how well spaces are meeting setpoint. In addition, a table is supplied by us that presents the worst offenders to supply facilities staff with action items. The very best five variable air volume (VAV) boxes listed are excellent action what to improve comfort.

Figure 1: Comfort Report (Chart: supplied by authors)

Advanced Analytics for Maintenance. A terrific way to make an impression on facility staff would be to make their job easier, and improving tenant comfort is a proven way we do this. The less cold calls they need to deal with, the higher! The next way we make maintenance easier is monitoring maintenance issues. Monitoring variable frequency drive (VFD) temps can be an example of leveraging the energy of analytics to obtain ahead of a concern before it becomes a tragedy. Analytics are really valuable to greatly help a facility shift from reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance.

Next, facility reporting really helps to create a baseline, goals, and a genuine solution to track progress towards an effective MBCx program. We also use reporting to highlight high values conditions that have to be addressed so we are able to assign more help where needed. Reporting means that everybody in the organizational structure is on a single page with regards to goals and where they’re at on that trajectory.

To be able to maintain high-level building performance achieved through commissioning, a thorough, long-term program ought to be in place. You need key players in correct positions to make sure work orders developed from the analytics become energy savings. Picking an analytics platform which will fit the needs of one’s organization is essential ensuring it could monitor all areas of building performance.