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Thermal Control at South America’s First Year-Round Water Park
By Therese Sullivan, Tridium, Inc.

Control Solutions, Inc

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Energy and comfort management for a entertainment facility powered by a geothermal heat source


The Acquamotion Park, located in the city of Gramado, in Rio Grande do Sul, is the newest park of the Gramado Parks Group. Gramado is in the Serra Gaucha region—the mountainous southern highlands of Brazil that has grown into a popular tourist destination with renown restaurants, hotels and spas. Its suitability for a world-class water-theme park was enhanced by the proximity of thermal waters from the Guarani Aquifer reserves.  Park planners recognized that they could tap into the thermal spring that passes under the soil of the Serra Gaucha. By directly extracting waters from the hot spring 2,919 feet below the park, they could maintain swimming pool temperatures of about 96.8 °F (36 °C). In addition, with this geothermal energy source, an indoor park would be able to efficiently function across the four seasons of the year. The big challenge that remained was how to keep inside air temperatures and humidity levels safe and comfortable for visitors.



poolTo realize its geothermal energy concept for the 12-acre park envisioned, Gramado Parks Group brought the challenge to MP Automação, a regional leader in industrial automation and HVAC-R system design and integration. For building management system (BMS) expertise, MP Automação looked to Tridium Niagara partner, Mercato BAS Supply. The project team determined the driving goals for this ambitious controls system to be:

·       Precision temperature and humidity control over all zones in the park, which were especially strict after Covid 19

·       Optimal efficiency ratio for thermal energy and electricity usage

·       Uninterrupted operation of the control system

The automation control system needed a redundant, high-availability configuration such that operators would have visibility into equipment capacity and any anomolies at all times and be able to take action when required. There could be no disruption to air-conditioning and humidity control 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The HVAC design called for 21 air handling units (AHUs) to control temperature and humidity of the various air-conditioned areas. The packaged AHUs were specified to include mixing boxes for enthalpic utilization, capable of constantly renewing the air breathed by the park occupants without wasting the thermal energy of the treated air.  In addition, 24 hydronic cassette fan-coils and nine chillers were added to further condition the air.  Four of the chillers have cycle reversal (hot and cold water) capability, and the other five chillers can operate as heat pumps for situations where the thermal demand is very high.  The system design also includes three natural-gas-powered water heaters.


MP Automação used Mercato’s Climate PRO line for equipment control, which enabled full customization of the automation logic. The technical team programmed all the routines needed to monitor and manage the various applications that run the park’s pumps, chillers, boilers, air treatment units and exhaust fans, including the geothermal pump that extracts heated water from the Guarani Aquifer reserves below. In order to fully integrate the controlled equipment, the project team relied upon multiple communication protocols such as Modbus RTU, Bacnet IP, Bacnet MSTP and Carrier CCN in RS-485 and Ethernet physical media.

Mercato’s Niagara Framework-based PowerB BMS software enabled the customized development of screens and performance graphs for the user interface. The PowerB supervisory software is also capable of monitoring the network communication status of all PLCs belonging to the automation system. The chillers, for example. are monitored by the BMS through a gateway that performs the conversion from the Carrier CCN protocol to the Bacnet MSTP protocol.  In this way, it is possible to integrate the entire system. From this central console, the park’s maintenance team can monitor the desired parameters (e.g. location of machines in the plant, temperature, humidity, etc.) and view logs of alert and alarm records. They can overview the behavior of the whole system and take action when required. They can be agile and assertive in addressing any failures, significantly reducing the risk of equipment downtime and the possibility of compromising the park’s thermal comfort.


The automation system has a record of successful performance to date. In its role of maximizing the heat-exchange from naturally occurring thermal springs, it has saved approximately R$ 200,000.00 (US$36,240) in electric energy per month of operation. The data collected is displayed graphically in real time, constantly demonstrating the variation from required BAS parameters, leading to maintenance of uninterrupted comfort in all indoor areas. The use of Niagara Supervisor software has been instrumental in managing the system with safety, reliability and precision, avoiding labor-hours spent in unnecessary trouble-shooting and maintenance.


MP Automação has extensive experience developing complete automation projects—from the installation of simple electrical panels to automation of production lines— for customers in Brazil’s advanced automotive, manufacturing, packaging, food processing and other industries.



Tridium is a global company with established key strategic alliances with leading corporations in the energy services, building automation and data management sectors. It markets its products to a wide range of control manufacturers, HVAC equipment manufacturers, and a network of Tridium system integrators.


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