July 2015
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Finding Reality in a Virtual World

Can you feel the pulse within your building’s operating network?

Christopher Larry
Christopher Larry, PE,
Director Energy Engineering
exp US Services

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We don’t talk about it much:  Buildings are things, just machines, only metal, steel and concrete.  However, if you talk to a race car owner, he says things about his car such as, “She purrs like a kitten.”  Some mechanics can listen to their car’s engine and hear what is wrong with it.  I used to listen to “Car Talk,” a radio show where people would call in to ask questions of two brothers who seemed to know everything about cars.  Of course, these brothers, Click and Clack, would joke all the time and often asked the caller, “What does it sound like?”  The callers would respond with all sorts of sounds, some detailed and some not so accurate, but without fail, just by the sounds the caller made, the hosts would determine the issue, outline what was causing the problem, and instruct the caller on the appropriate correction for getting the car back in running order.

Well, your building functions the same way.  It makes sounds, it has a pulse, but not many people take the time to listen to it, or read it. The new science and technology of intelligent building analytics allows operators to read entire rivers of data which were ignored for so long.  This new technology is much like an MRI or doctor’s stethoscope which allows us to see and hear inside a building’s data network to decipher the many messages being transmitted.

By collecting the building systems’ data into an enterprise network, various operators can read this pulse and determine many different things such as:

The data a building provides is a treasure trove of information which can tell you a lot about the health of your facility. Often this data is hidden, not shared by proprietary systems, or isolated within the vertically separated systems.  The goal of intelligent buildings is first to “datatize” the information, interconnect the many systems in an open non-proprietary enterprise network, and then apply analytics to the data to translate that  data into pulses, or heart beats, to determine the “health” of the building.

One of the Click and Clack brothers passed away recently. I know if they were still on the air they would appreciate the analogy, and yes, they would make it into a funny joke like they always did, and I would join them in the laugh.



About the Author

J. Christopher Larry PE, CXA, CEM, CEP, CIPE, LEED AP, is the Director of Energy Engineering for exp, in Richmond, VA. He has spent more than 25 years working to minimize the building industry’s energy and environmental footprint through refining building design, building modeling, performance optimization, and intelligent controls. He won “Energy Engineer of the Year in 2000” from AEE. He has held numerous positions within the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), including chairman of the Chapter Technology Transfer Committee and chairman for Technical, Energy and Governmental Activities. He is a past president of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) and has instructed the certified energy manager training course for AEE. He is the current chairman for the Building Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) within the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) and also is a member of the Zero Energy Commercial Building Consortium.

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