Our environment is changing rapidly. As major shifts in our climate heighten awareness and calls for action, it’s up to business leaders to make real change. The responsible use of resources to protect our natural environment is something that resonates with consumers and businesses alike. Employees don’t want to work for employers not committed to sustainability, businesses don’t want to do business with those not hitting benchmarks, and consumers have become better-than-ever at detecting and boycotting unsustainable practices. Business leaders are seeking sustainable solutions with measurable near- and long-term immediate impacts.
One way that businesses are making operations more sustainable is by reducing energy use, maximizing equipment life and performance, and planning a climate resiliency strategy. As we all face climate uncertainty and an unpredictable future it’s imperative that, as leaders in facilities management, we do everything we can to champion sustainability in commercial real estate.
Fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) is one unique way that ISS Facility Services can help your organization accomplish sustainability goals. FDD supports a predictive operating model.
By collecting data throughout a facility, ISS can monitor and drive system efficiencies, employ data in a predictive maintenance model, optimize asset life cycles, and forecast asset replacement. In turn, facilities will run smoothly, use resources effectively, and consume less energy. One technology client, where ISS manages 4.2 million square feet, has seen energy savings of approximately 10%—that’s more than $350k in annual utility cost avoidance. FDD can be used to reduce energy use in office environments, and it can also be used to improve efficiencies in industrial, manufacturing, and highly controlled pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. A robust FDD program even has potential to facilitate employee well-being and foster a positive workplace experience.
Our vision is to amass data to predict future needs, extend asset life spans, and foster climate resilience by laying a foundation of site-specific markers that can anticipate needs in the operating environment. FDD is just one small piece of a greater integrated facilities management offering that ISS can employ to help make your facility more sustainable.
Monitor and drive system efficiency
An important part of any sustainability effort is the reduction of energy use. A common way to achieve this goal in commercial facilities is to maximize the efficiency and eliminate unnecessary runtime of the assets used to control the space. There are many ways to reduce energy use in a facility, but a much deeper understanding is gained with FDD.
A comprehensive understanding of the assets and their daily operations is needed. The initial assessment of the facility sets a baseline for data collection and analysis. The data from the initial assessment is checked against the information in the building management system (BMS) and is updated if necessary. ISS uses BMS sensors already in place throughout the facility to collect critical data that informs operators of energy use. More sensors may be installed as needed to increase visibility.
Employing sensor data, operators can detect faults throughout the facility. By monitoring set points for various zones in the facility, operators can act as they’re alerted to variances. One common fault is the mixed or discharged air temperature outside of a specific threshold. Sensors can also help identify the asset responsible for the fault, like an outside air damper not optimally positioned. Small adjustments to operations like these can result in significant energy savings over time.
Operators can adjust specific set points to meet fluctuations in facility usage, too. For example, a specific zone in a manufacturing building that isn’t used on Tuesdays and Thursdays because of production flow can be set to a lower temperature in the winter and allowed to rise in the summer.
Sensors can also be used to monitor water usage across a facility. This can provide important data that can later be used to predict and control water consumption. As more areas face long-term drought, these insights will be critical in facilitating climate resiliency.
The predictive capabilities of an FDD solution are what truly drive its value beyond alarms in a building automation system. It may seem simple, but the sensor data collected is what makes the analytic abilities of an FDD program possible — measurably reducing energy consumption and driving sustainability.
Centralized data collection
The collection of sensor data will occur on one central BMS. So, in our manufacturing example, that means the sensor measuring the set point for the inactive zone and the sensor measuring the energy consumption by the boiler or chiller controlling that zone’s temperature are feeding data to the same, centralized computer system. As data begins to accrue in the system, facility operators can use historical trends to map energy consumption to specific set points with precision.
Simply put, it takes a lot of time for the necessary data to be acquired, but as the data bank is established, machine learning can be employed to draw correlations. This information can be leveraged in many ways. For instance, the software has the potential to cross reference zone set point and respective asset energy use to identify and inform operators of specific thresholds that maximize efficiency.
Changing the temperature of a commercial space can require significant energy. In our manufacturing example, analysis may uncover that it requires more energy to return the zone to its regular set point than it saves by letting the ambient temperature change extemporaneously. The same concept could be applied to a vacant office waiting to be leased, or even a slight change in ambient temperature at night when employees are home.
It can be thought of like a car getting on the highway. To go from 0 mph to 65 mph, the car may use a half a gallon of gas in just a quarter mile. However, when the car is at highway speed, it may use a half a gallon of fuel to go twenty miles. The engine of the car consumes more fuel getting up to speed because significantly more energy is needed to meet the demand. Where at highway speeds, the engine can sip fuel and maintain momentum. The same idea goes for boilers and chillers, and a specific threshold is analogous to highway speed.
By identifying specific thresholds for situations like these, operators can optimize the buildings energy use—preserving fuels and reducing emissions.