October 2009


Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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The Niagara Framework® and Energy
The biggest challenge currently facing existing buildings in reducing energy usage is the lack of manageability for efficiency and critical information about operating systems.

  Marc Petock
Vice President
Global Marketing & Communications
Tridium, Inc.

With rising energy costs and the move toward more sustainable buildings, increasing energy use in buildings has both financial and environmental consequences. So it’s critical for building owners and facility executives to determine if their buildings are operating as efficiently as they can and if not, having the ability and control to do so.

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Currently, U.S. buildings consume two-thirds of our power supply and emit 40 percent of the greenhouse gases. This is a staggering statistic, especially when you consider that right now we have the proven technical capability and applications to cut these numbers in half, at a very reasonable cost. But, in order to accomplish this, we must change the approach to how we manage and control our buildings.

Let’s look at some facts:

  • Commercial buildings are the largest single consumers of energy in North America.

  • Buildings consume two-thirds of our power supply and emit 40% of the greenhouse gasses.

  • HVAC accounts for 40% and lighting accounts for 28% of a building’s total energy load making them the biggest opportunities for energy savings strategies.

  • In addition to raw energy savings, HVAC and lighting also have the greatest impact on occupant comfort and productivity.

  • Energy costs represent about 30% of an office building’s total operating costs (excluding staffing costs).

  • Energy efficiency is the quickest, the least expensive, cleanest way to extend our global energy supplies.

  • Energy management and control can provide 4x the environmental impact compared to producing new sources of renewable energy.

  • Nearly 2/3 of the building owners that have invested in energy strategies and energy technologies for their existing buildings have received positive ROI, including, but not limited to, higher lease and occupancy rates.

  • Increasing energy efficiency in buildings and other non-transportation sectors could yield a 23% drop in energy use by 2020, save the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 gigatons annually.

  • Existing technology and energy programs reduce energy usage by as much as 50% over conventional buildings, with the most efficient buildings currently performing up to 70% better than conventional properties.

Real World Applications

Upscale Retailer
An upscale retailer with multiple locations is using a NiagaraAX-based energy management system for controlling costs; monitoring fuel usage and sub-metered loads for high energy use equipment; and seeking energy savings from more efficient operation of the store’s equipment and limiting usage during peak rate periods. Within 24 months, they’ve experienced more than $8 million in energy savings.

Convergence Retailer
By using energy data from Niagara to determine future equipment selection and store design as well as shaping loads to reduce power costs, a major convergence retailer with 550 locations is reducing energy usage and receiving cost savings of 5-10%.


A 10,000-acre K-12 school system had three classroom buildings, 109 student homes, a performing arts center and more with their own controls and devices, and no central monitoring or system. By uniting the campus through a NiagaraAX-based energy management system, monitoring and control became much more efficient and the school system reduced annual utility spend by over 25%.

A leading university with outdated HVAC equipment in many of its buildings was very limited in its ability to monitor and manage energy usage. Through a NiagaraAX-based energy management system, the university integrated cost-effective control upgrades into one system, achieved the Web-based management it desired, and lowered its monthly utility costs by 20%.

Office Buildings
A multi-site, multi-location, national financial institution gained savings of 10-15% — translating to millions of dollars annually. Energy consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions have decreased by 11% and maintenance costs have been cut by 12%. In addition, the institution enjoyed reduced service calls, fewer truck rolls and increased
performance of HVAC and lighting systems.

A large aerospace company not only wished to reduce energy costs in its production facility, but also had specific needs for managing flexible lighting zones for a safe working environment. The chosen NiagaraAX-based energy management system provided Web-based control for managing lighting and environmental schedules as well as load shedding during peak periods. The result was reduced electric consumption by 20% during peak usage and 50% on weekends.

Integration of multiple systems and meters through a single Web-based interface was a requirement for a large pharmaceutical company, as was a tool for shedding loads and verifying reductions. Through the updated Niagara based energy-management system, the company integrated legacy systems with new BACnet® systems for real-time control
from any onsite Web browser. The company can now shed a 1.5 MW load within 30 minutes and has measurement and verification tools in place to better manage and control energy use.

Managers of government buildings are receiving real-time energy and operational data and sending commands to and from different devices so they can take immediate action — managing energy consumption and reducing costs — from anywhere.

The biggest challenge currently facing existing buildings in reducing energy usage is the lack of manageability for efficiency and critical information about operating systems. Traditional building systems are characterized by highly proprietary offerings with limited ability to connect and interoperate with each other and manage them collectively as a fully integrated system. As a result, conventional buildings suffer from the inability to communicate and intelligently manage the data that they possess and use this information to drive energy efficiencies and reduce energy costs.

The vast majority of energy management activities are based on the financial impact they will have on the company. Today’s rapidly evolving energy markets are forcing organizations to consider new ways to centrally manage the energy portfolio of the company. These two real-world conditions are causing building owners and energy managers to look for solutions to integrate and coexist with the rest of the enterprise building information network. Energy managers are looking for an Internet friendly, integration framework that bridges the gap between the business layer and the operational layer of the enterprise.

Low/reduced-energy buildings are being built by developers and business owners across the country with a zero or marginal cost premium. This can also be said for retrofitting existing buildings with energy saving technologies. Market leaders have already figured out that high energy and operational costs are affecting the profitability of their buildings and portfolios and that these costs are rising. They know that tenants want environmentally friendly features and successful businesses care about employee comfort and productivity.

By managing energy and facilities as investments, companies gain control of energy use and achieve high rates of return in the form of energy savings and better performance with their buildings. Benefits from this investment approach can include double digit energy reductions, as well as improved building performance, lower operating costs, increased worker productivity, and environmental responsibility.

Perhaps no other technology has had as profound an impact on smart energy solutions, making more energy efficient buildings and reducing energy usage and costs than the Internet. The success of the internet is largely driven by open protocols and standards that enable all sorts of applications and hardware to interact. We think the same principles of openness that have made the Internet a thriving ecosystem should be applied to help all of us save energy, save money and contribute to a sustainable environment. Tridium’s NiagaraAX Framework® has and remains at the forefront for doing this.

The Niagara Framework has been a major player in making buildings more energy efficient, reducing energy usage and driving down costs for over 12 years. Today, there are over 162,000 instances of Niagara operating in 45 countries worldwide in office buildings, manufacturing plants, mission-critical facilities, hospitals, educational and government campuses, military bases, hotels, retail stores and airports.

Niagara helps both small and large organizations integrate, measure, manage and reduce energy costs through enhanced integration and systems management and provides energy management capabilities for large campuses and geographically dispersed enterprises.

Built on an open architecture, the Niagara Framework merges multi-vendor automation systems and real-time integration into a single, extensible platform that monitors, manages and controls the power consumption of all building systems and drives energy efficiency and reduces energy costs. Niagara takes into account all critical areas that form the subsystems that make a building function including lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), security, and energy management. It allows devices to share information with each other and streamlines them into a common system where management can control and monitor the buildings’ operations.

Niagara has removed the barriers to assess the proprietary and legacy data from different systems in a facility. It is the bridge between systems and devices and simplifies the process of connectivity and integration that makes building and facility management easier.

Niagara is a scalable platform that delivers measurable ROI enabling users to capture the benefits of integration, automation and energy control of their buildings and maximize the value of information in real-time contained within them.

In addition to integrating energy consuming devices and systems within a building and getting them to work together to be managed, controlled and operate at optimum levels, Niagara also includes energy measurement and verification tools options that allow users to implement the most efficient and sustained energy strategies in a building today.

As a real-time integration platform and automation infrastructure, Niagara allows users to deploy optimal energy and environmental management strategies that notifies about events before they occur and provides users with the tools to execute control such as schedule and temperature adjustments or activation of on-site generation. Niagara interacts in real-time, with the systems that control the energy consuming and generating equipment in a facility.

The technology also enables users to collect information and benchmark buildings to expose operational inefficiencies. From a green building perspective, Niagara allows users to capitalize on accurate and concise intelligence relating to the energy performance of a building in order to achieve lower energy consumption and enhanced efficiencies.


Niagara Creates Better Buildings
Niagara is an actionable platform enabling building owners and managers to proactively achieve significant energy savings. With its easy to use features and proven energy saving capabilities, the Niagara Framework is successfully addressing today’s energy challenge. The solution not only allows for complete integration, manageability and control but also allows for predictive as well as preventive detection in buildings anywhere, anytime.

By integrating today’s diverse building systems such as environmental controls, security, lighting, energy, video, fire and life safety, The NiagaraAX Framework is creating better buildings---ones that are smarter, use less energy, are more efficient, have lower operating costs, are safer and contribute to a sustainable environment.


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