No improvement without measurement


feature of modern business is the need to do more with less; provide the same

service, or capability, with less budget, or improve service levels while keeping costs the same. Today’s building manager or facilities operator, whether as part of the tenant organisation or as a third party contractor, not only has to look for ways to reduce his or her overall costs, but is often expected to do so while minimising the impact on the local environment and the comfort of the building’s inhabitants. With HVAC and lighting amounting to

nearly 60 per cent of energy used in a building, knowing when to turn something off, or down, to save energy requires real- time measurement. This is not always straightforward. An area that is often ignored when factoring in cost savings and environmental impact is the outside of the building, or the space between the buildings (if on a campus such as a university, office park or hospital). This outdoor space is how people get to and from the building, where they park their car or lock their bicycle, and it includes lighting and footpaths, signage and planting. All have to be maintained at a minimal cost, while also ensuring regulatory compliance for health and safety and environmental impact. However, away from the ubiquitous power and IT networks of the inside of the buildings, measuring gets even more challenging, and that is before you factor in the impact of the weather. What is common to both the internal

space of the building and its surrounding area is the challenge of instrumenting the physical world in a cost efficient way. There are a number of devices available for sensing and controlling the built environment, but how they communicate with a Building Management System (BMS) can be complex. Many require a wired connection on a legacy bus system which can be costly to retrofit, and can limit the location of the sensors or actuators. Other wireless devices use a myriad of differing wireless technologies, with a variety of range and power consumptions, as well as limits on the number of devices per gateway. Devices may use a repeater that can require

significant radio planning, deployment of multiple gateways and the challenge of getting the data into the BMS. The most simple solution would be to upload the data to the internet and feed it into the BMS from there, being that everything can be integrated in the cloud. However, most communication systems are managed by the tenant and the IT department, and with security being a major concern, asking to have access through the firewall will be met with a simple ‘no’. Any locally installed software is unlikely to have the ability to take data from unknown devices, making it very difficult to integrate the data into the BMS. What would be very useful would be to

have a low power wireless network that can cover the outside space, as well as the inside. Ideally, it could leverage the existing infrastructure, such as mains power supply and the existing fittings. Nearly every commercial building has this capability already in the form of the external lights illuminating the car parks, pathways and flooding the walls of the building. It makes good financial sense to upgrade these lights to lanterns that consume less than half of the energy they do today. This can reduce the maintenance costs by 50 per cent due to fewer fault or lamp changes. Ensuring that the new lighting also creates a self-healing low-power mesh network, provides additional management, remote diagnosis of the lights, and also provides data transport for all the sensors and actuators you may want to deploy. Measuring the data from these sensors

can improve areas such as parking. Most commercial buildings have a car park, or some allocated spaces, and a considerable amount of time is wasted by employees driving around looking for a space, not to mention the wasted fuel and increased emissions it causes. Simply counting the cars in and out of a bounded area, and displaying the number of available spaces on an LED display at the entrance, could eliminate this waste. For more precise

information, sensors can be stuck on, or embedded into, the spaces themselves and users can be navigated directly to an available space. This application is justification alone for a lighting upgrade as it addresses two pressing needs - cost reduction and user comfort. It is also possible to put a whole host of

sensors both in, on and around a new light fitting. These can measure air quality, dust levels, temperature, humidity and air pressure, as well as listen for specific sounds (like breaking glass) or measure the temperature of the road or pavement - all from the lantern itself. Other devices can be mounted in the base of the lamp post to provide early warning of localised flooding, or can be mounted higher up the post to count cars, bikes and pedestrians. Perhaps the biggest implication is that the new network can connect to other devices that can help monitor and optimise the internal environment. Monitors can be mounted in distribution cabinets to measure the electricity consumption of each individual circuit. IO control modules can be used to control, or monitor, equipment that has no in-built communication capability, and induction motor sensors can not only measure the power consumption of fans, pumps and drives, but can also tell whether the rotor is spinning or not, so that equipment can be turned off before the motor burns out. If we circle back to the data upload

challenge discussed earlier, we can use the gateway capability of the mesh network to send data directly into the cloud, bypassing the network manager’s firewall, where a secure API (data pipe) delivers the data into your BMS of choice. This data can be merged with existing information about HVAC systems, and access control, to provide a more accurate picture of the estate. The data itself won’t work miracles on cost savings or user comfort, but it will enable the manager to make more informed decisions, resulting in improved user comfort or less labour-intensive maintenance. As the title states; if you can’t measure

it, you cannot improve it.

External light fittings can be the key to cutting costs and improving multiple services




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