Article - May 2001
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Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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The project will also bring real-time building and energy data into the K-12 curriculum accessible as "read only" data via a web browser.

Edward H. Brzezowski, P.E. President,
Facility Energy Services, Inc.

During the redesign process as part of this retrofit work, the additional space in the mechanical equipment rooms was allocated to be used for "hands on" and distance learning Energy Labs. 

Across the U.S hundreds of billions of dollars in facility needs have been documented for our K-12 public schools.

Historically these needs have been from the point of view of capital outlay for the physical plant, often due to deferred maintenance as part of five-year capital outlay and maintenance plans.

Control Solutions, Inc Over time these plans have taken into account the educational program, demographic and enrollment data and most recently the impact and needs of pervasive technology. This technology component has dramatically changed in our schools over the past several years due to the release of approximately $2.25B per year under universal service, e-rate programs.

Schools today have also been envisioned as centers of the community and a central part of a life long learning process. Our schools are now typically used beyond the typical school day into the evening and throughout the year.

Concept and Application
The integration of facility, technology and educational program (FTEP) needs might be as simple or complex as shown in these two examples:

Example 1 (Simple) 
Project - An elementary school is being wired to network the building and connect to the Internet. 
Opportunity - While running down the hallway to each classroom and office, provide duplex CAT5 data drops in the mechanical equipment rooms for future use.

Example 2 (Complex, multi-site, multi-phase) 
Project - A district has received approvals and funding to modernize and expand its middle and high schools.
Opportunity - Stand back and look at the big picture and ways to meet the combined needs of the district.

Expanding on Example 2 above, a district had a $78M construction program to renovate five of its middle and high schools. The work was to be done in phases over several years. The first building was designed and ready to be released to bid. Looking closely at the drawings showed that life cycle costs, pervasive networking, air conditioning and networked controls were not being utilized or provided.

Working with the Owner, a request for proposal for performance contracting to bring life cycle costs and networked controls into the project was developed and released. An award was made to an Energy Service Company to bring an additional $6M into this process by looking at the buildings operations over the next ten years. This additional step provided for geothermal heating and cooling systems and LonWorks/BacNet networked controls.

During the redesign process as part of this retrofit work, the additional space in the mechanical equipment rooms was allocated to be used for Energy Labs. The intent of these labs was to immerse students, teachers, community and other interested parties into the real-time dynamics and energy flows within the building and other buildings in the district via energy kiosks. It also created opportunities for distance learning labs within these spaces for physical and virtual hands-on opportunities.

We have all seen how technology and its use in our buildings have changed over the last ten years or so. We are still at the beginning of its true potential. In the past our computer control systems generated reams of printouts that went to storage rooms and today they fill gigabyte hard drives. In the past the information was displayed on color graphic screens on computers equipped with "dongles," today they are viewable on any device with a web browser from anywhere.

We have the ability with pervasive wired and wireless technologies to look today at the same information from different perspectives. For example, using a concept LivingLab using a notebook metaphor on a web browser screen, we could have three modes for day-to-day educational, technology or facility operations.

In "educational mode" we might look at the real time information for a building's electric meter to understand and see how much energy we are using and how much it costs. The same information in "facility mode" would have this data, as well as the budget and forecasting resources available on the screen. The user could then drill down via these screens to identify and correct abnormal energy use before the bills are received from the utility company the following month. This step could be advanced one step further using "agent technology" that data mines and analyzes this information behind the scenes and summarizes with recommendations and advisories for the end user.

If a geothermal unit was looked at in "educational mode" it might show the real-time energy flows into and out of the building and supply the calculations to a student. In "facility mode" is could show for a packaged unit the current operation and identify and abnormal conditions. It would then have access to the electronic operation and maintenance manuals, work order data, diagnostics, notes, and agent assistance.

We have laid the groundwork here and have been reaching out to other organizations, groups, K-12 schools, colleges and universities for collaboration and support. The work to date as we continue to blaze this path can be found at the LivingLab and EnergyLab websites referenced below.

Supporting Data
US School Needs
Performance Contracting
Meeting the Combined Needs
Bringing it all together 

-- DRAFT - work-in-progress
(Last Update: 04/19/01 ehb)

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