What does it take to turn a 1920s woolen mill into the Berkeley County Judicial Center, built for the future? For starters, completely update an over 50K SF addition, as well as include building monitoring and intelligent services capabilities.
The judicial center had antiquated, inefficient HVAC equipment that was costing the county thousands of dollars in energy, which made the operation of the facility nearly impossible to maintain when its budget was drastically reduced. In addition to the equipment, outdated pneumatic controls not only made smart energy use challenging but also caused issues with occupant comfort.
The Berkeley County Judicial Center partnered with commercial heating and air conditioning company Boland, which serves as the exclusive Trane Commercial Systems, Services and Solutions representative in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Boland evaluated the property’s energy use and developed sustainable, smart upgrades for the aging infrastructure. Part of the plan included investing in intelligent services, which allow building owners to monitor and track data from peak energy use periods to changes in air quality.
The innovative solutions and advanced building controls helped save the judicial center more than $98K in energy costs in the first year. The Berkeley County Judicial Center is an example of how more building owners are embracing intelligent services as a way to improve energy efficiency and give occupants more control.
“Intelligent Services are a way to take advantage of the investments building owners have already made in their HVAC and control systems by using the data those systems provide to develop solutions and improve building operating efficiency,” Boland Controls and Solutions Leader Dave Hostetler said. The Internet of Things has revolutionized how people and businesses process data. That information can now be applied to infrastructures like HVAC. Building owners can selectively heat or cool specific rooms based on occupancy and planned use, rather than waste energy. Beyond temperature control, intelligent services can monitor air quality and alert owners to potential system failures or issues.
Boland’s Intelligent Services offer multiple platforms that can be customized to meet the needs of the client. Choices can range from energy metering and data dashboards to building performance reports analysts walk through with the property owner. These experts are on call to provide remote access to systems while active monitoring gives the user 24/7 insight on building operations.
“It’s kind of like having an energy engineer, a control technician, and an equipment technician at your fingertips without having to hire them,” Hostetler said.
Boland’s Intelligent Services aim to help buildings more efficiently fulfill their purpose. Every building has a mission, Hostetler said, and it is critical that the infrastructure supporting activity within the space drives success rather than harms that mission. In a school, for instance, uncomfortable temperatures can interfere with students’ abilities to learn and pass exams. In a hospital, poor air quality can hinder patient recovery.
“Money wasted on energy costs or inefficient equipment can take funding away from those goals. The first step is developing your key performance indicators,” Hostetler said. “Once you have intelligent services, you want to look for a partner that can help you deliver those outcomes, instead of just giving you data and a dashboard. You need someone who can give you actionable recommendations to reach your goals.”
Knowing how to use that data is a crucial part of developing HVAC plans and upgrades. A building’s age, for example, can impact how an owner should employ intelligent services. An older building may have been neglected for a while, creating a lot of opportunities for capital improvements.
Trane Energy Optics presents building data as a 3D energy report that visualizes energy use and compares it to similar buildings, allowing owners to determine where to prioritize spending.
“Tools such as these help owners determine which equipment they should replace first to get the best payback,” Hostetler said. “The data we gather through intelligent services will help them develop a revitalization plan.”
Intelligent services continue to evolve as more building owners adopt the technology. Automation systems can issue recommendations to users without having to sift through data, but providing more detailed plans still requires a human touch.
For Hostetler, the goal remains the same: to help customers fulfill their buildings’ mission and meet needs they didn’t realize they had.
For Boland, technology continues to evolve. The organization strives to be at the forefront of building optimization, proving to building owners that intelligent services are not just the way of the future, but an integral part of their business.