Most buildings were built in a time when energy was cheap and conservation not an issue, and many do not meet today's energy codes. In addition, they are designed to be cooled in typical worst-case situations, on the hottest or coldest days of the year; at most other times, there is only a partial load on the system. As a result, typically 40% of a building's utility bill is for heating and cooling, and those utility bills are only getting bigger.
New buildings can be designed from the ground-up with current energy conservation approaches in mind, but retrofitting existing buildings can be time-consuming, expensive, may require asbestos abatement, and is usually disruptive to existing tenants.
Technical issues are also often encountered which can make it a challenge to effectively manage a building's cooling and heating plants: Many HVAC systems produce a constant airflow, for example, no matter the load or temperatures, and many building management systems do little more than turn fans on or off on a preset schedule, leading to comfort issues and wasted energy.
There are a variety of means employed to achieve better thermal control, with results that can differ rather widely. Most are proprietary systems that implement hardwired control of HVAC units, a form of deployment that can result in significant disruption to a firm's business activities.
Constant volume (CAV) systems can be made more efficient through mechanical retrofits to variable air volume (VAV) operation, however, this represents significant reconstruction and is expensive and disruptive.
An effective solution for dynamic temperature management in large buildings requires a deployment that has minimal disruption to ongoing business activities. When taking into consideration that hundreds of sensors are likely to be needed to provide uniform and consistent temperature control, it quickly becomes evident that a wireless network is required. Mesh networks provide an optimal solution in that they also are self-configuring, and each node acts as a repeater, making deployment a quick and easy task.
Managing temperature fluctuations in real time requires powerful closed-loop control technology capable of making decisions based on readings from dozens or hundreds of sensors, and then directly and dynamically controlling air handler units from a variety of manufacturers. Moreover, the energy management system needs to provide coordinated control over multiple zones to optimize the net affect, and maximize comfort levels, across the entire facility.
Vigilent addresses all of these needs with a system that incorporates advanced, wireless mesh-network-based sensors feeding data to a sophisticated artificial intelligence engine which then provides closed-loop control – using industry-standard protocols – to manage fan speeds, and heating and cooling output for a wide range of air handling units. Learn how our systems provide you increased control, and dramatic savings, easily and quickly. Read more...
AHU – Air handling unit. A system that conditions and circulates air as part of an HVAC system, it typically includes a blower, heating or cooling elements, filters, sound attenuators and dampers.
Mesh Network – A low-power, self-configuring network used to connect sensors. Vigilent uses Dust® Networks for mesh networking technology.
VFD – Variable Frequency Drive. A device that controls the rotational speed of an AC motor by controlling the frequency of its electric power source; an effective technology for machine control of fan speeds in AHUs.
WSM – A wireless sensor (or "mote") used in mesh networks to collect real-time data.
Your facility is an ideal candidate for an energy management system if it is 15 or more years old and hasn't had an HVAC retrofit in the last 15 years, has constant volume air handling units and utilizes pneumatic controls for the HVAC system.