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Building management system with big energy savings for old HVAC systems

City of Dandenong office

Property technology company Blue IoT’s virtual intelligent smart building management platform has led to a 47 per cent reduction in energy usage in the City of Greater Dandenong’s Melbourne office building, 39a Clow Street.

Installed with minimum need for hardware replacement and no capital expenditure for new HVAC replacements, the platform remotely manages the building’s seven 20 year old HVAC systems, giving what the company claims is unprecedented visibility and control to its facility management teams.

Building management systems (BMSs) traditionally sat in large unwieldy boxes on site and typically required a programmer to physically interact with it to make changes.

“They were cumbersome and expensive,” Blue IoT’s founder and chief innovation officer Bob Sharon said, “and the software was proprietary.”

By contrast, Blue IoT’s system is contained in a small translator box that speaks wirelessly to its ecosystem of small sensors throughout the building. It then communicates that data back and forth remotely to any internet enabled device connected to the program.

“All the intelligence sits in the cloud,” Mr Sharon explained. “It’s 100 per cent digital, and can be accessed anywhere at any time. So facility managers could make instant adjustments straight from their phones, for example.

“Now all changes made are simple and fast, not to mention free as part of subscription maintenance.”

An example of a change IoT Blue has made remotely for the City of Greater Dandenong is the addition of dead band control. Put simply this is an economy cycle function, adding a leniency of two degrees Celsius to the set temperatures before the HVAC systems turn on and off.

A conservative estimate suggests this amendment alone will lead to an annual saving of 30,000 kilowatt hours.

The wireless nature of the network also means the sensors can sit in the most appropriate locations throughout the building, rather than remaining reliant on existing wiring. They each run on batteries that last for up to five years and enable tighter zone control throughout the building.

The system can also communicate specific anomalies and issues to the management teams, which was immediately useful upon installation.

“We identified problems straight away,” Mr Sharon said, “and reported these back to the council. We were put in contact with their mechanical contractor who was able to remediate the problems within two months.”

Building control on steroids

The system measures temperatures and energy usage and feeds this data to a custom application suite that members of the City of Greater Dandenong staff can access and control through a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, when and where necessary.

In addition to the information gained from local sensors, the program also takes into consideration weather forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology. It then translates this information to the HVAC systems using artificial intelligence.

“If it’s going to be a mild summers’ day, for example, the platform might turn the fans at 8:30 but leave the airconditioning off until necessary.”

The City of Greater Dandenong appreciated this new system so much that it has contracted Blue IoT to install the BMS in another of its buildings nearby.

“The next system will measure gas, CO2 levels and signs of mould,” Mr Sharon said. “Not just a building management system, it’ll go into health and wellness, safety and OHS. It’ll basically be building control on steroids.”

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