In my previous post How to do BAS Graphics Right: Part I, I wrote about the 5 basic rules to BAS graphics I learned during my years as a controls system master integrator. If you’ve not read that post yet, I’d encourage you to go back and give a glance as it’ll put the rules below into perspective, and feel free to ask a question if you got one using the comment section at the bottom of the post. Here’s a quick recap of the rules:
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The prospect of reopening schools under the new CDC guidelines in response to COVID-19 can be overwhelming for facilities and administrative personnel. In addition to increased surface cleaning, hand washing, maintaining six feet between classroom desks, and wearing face masks, the schools are faced with making decisions on how to best operate their HVAC equipment. As much as the world is trying to help them with these decisions, the HVAC guidelines from the CDC and ASHRAE are all encompassing; it is difficult to identify which measures are applicable and even more difficult to prioritize the measures under a school’s constrained budget. This may overburden an already burdened school facilitator.
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In this time of global crisis, it can be hard to cope with some of the new realities we’re all being faced with, whether it’s experiencing isolation due to social distancing, fearing for yourself or loved ones, or dealing with the virus’ economic impact. As a business that strives to engineer a future where buildings are better for people and planet, we can’t help but notice the ways this crisis reflects global warming’s looming themes: it’s going to affect everyone, it has dangerous consequences, and it takes a global effort to combat. While I only have the emotional bandwidth for one global emergency at a time, the environment is still in the back of my mind, and I can’t help but think of the ways the virus and our environment are inextricably linked.
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Hospitals are racing to create as many isolation rooms as possible to help effectively care for patients with COVID-19 while keeping healthcare providers and others in the hospital as safe from infection as possible.
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Over the course of my career I have evaluated BAS graphics packages as a function of my daily 9 – 5. I have been doing this since 2002 and in those days, most BAS manufacturers barely had functioning websites. However, the products they sold allowed their vendor networks to create Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) and Graphical User Interfaces (GUI), and these interfaces haven’t really functionally changed a whole lot since those days of pre-broadband internet and before the smartphone was commonplace. Given that we may be stuck with outdated user interfaces for some time to come, it makes it all the more important that proper care is given to how the information is displayed and to ensure users can easily absorb the information they need from the BAS.
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After an early morning departure and a snowy drive, my colleague and I arrived onsite to test, among other equipment, a packaged rooftop air handling unit with factory controls. At first, the unit appeared to check all our boxes, but as we dug into the details, it became clear that this would be a very expensive heating system to operate. This blog entry is about factory controls and the importance of getting into the weeds to identify issues like the one we found with this rooftop air handling unit.
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A few years ago, while living in a small apartment in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood, I noticed that the lightbulb in my kitchen had burned out. Naturally, I went to the hardware store to find a replacement. After struggling to read the French labeling on several different packages, I ultimately decided to go for the least expensive box of LED bulbs that the store had available. Once I installed the newly purchased lightbulb, I noticed a difference in the way our kitchen looked. Specifically, I noticed a difference in the appearance of the bowl of fruit that always sat on the counter. While the lightbulb illuminated the space, I remember thinking to myself how unappetizing and dull my fruit now looked. This exercise, though unintentional, clarified the importance of a light source’s color rendering capability.
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As you know, Cx Associates’ work focuses on making buildings perform better for occupants, operators, owners, and for the planet. A common metric we use to assess building performance is the energy use intensity (EUI) which Katie has discussed in her recent blog posts. While attending the recent IEPEC Conference in Denver, I had a discussion with someone familiar with Xcel Energy’s work to be a net zero carbon utility in the relatively near future. We realized that EUI is an insufficient metric for guiding energy program investments at their customer sites. Ultimately, to drive carbon emissions down to a sustainable level that will halt and begin to reverse the climate crisis we are currently in, we need to track energy intensity while also focusing on carbon emissions intensity (CEI) at a building level. Cities and states that have adopted carbon reduction goals will do well to focus on reducing the CEI of their building stock through energy efficiency, fuel switching, and renewable energy generation.
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In a previous blog post, I discussed the energy benchmarking service we currently perform for a healthcare network using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM) tool. This tool is used to monitor the energy usage of a building over time. It allows a user to set energy goals, compare the overall energy use intensity (EUI) to a baseline year, and compare the building in question to other buildings with similar use-types and characteristics. In addition to continuing this specific service for the healthcare network, Cx Associates uses the benefits of benchmarking in other areas of our work too. This blog post will discuss what other areas of our work utilize benchmarking and then provide a brief update on changes ESPM has made to their scoring metrics over the past year.