Escalated Complexity

The drive for improved building management systems reflects the increase in the complexity of new buildings. From an equipment or hardware perspective we now have buildings with energy and sustainability systemsthat were not commonplace even five years ago. These include systems like rain water harvesting, exterior motorized shading, water reclamation, renewable energy sources, electric switchable glass, and sun tracking systems.

Figure 17.1

Figure 17.2

Maintaining and optimizing each of these new systems is a challenge, further increasing complexity for building owners and facility management.

Another aspect of increased complexity is related to management decisions regarding building operations that now involve several other variables. For example, assume a building manager wants to respond to a demand response from the local utility grid, (a voluntary program that compensates retail customers for reducing their electricity use). requested by the utility during periods of high power prices or when the reliability of the grid is threatened. In making a decision on how to respond, the building manager has to take into account several financial and operational variables, including tangible and intangible benefits and cost. How much power load can I shed? How can I shed it? What's my typical demand profile during the time and duration of the event? How do I factor in the need to support the ongoing business? How do I implement, monitor, and measure? What's the effect on occupant comfort? How do I communicate to everyone affected by the event? Do I forgo the pricing signal to keep the business in normal operation? Do I use auxiliary energy generation? What's the maximum demand I can curtail?

These types of challenges are way beyond the typical question of "What should the HVAC set point be?” Obviously, some of these issues can be studied and a policy can be implemented by the building owner, but, any final decision would have to take into account real-time circumstances. This is where analytic and automation software tools of integrated building management systems can support the operations and facility personnel.

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