In Part 3 of this continuing series, author Ed Ritchie profiles building automation and control solutions, such as Integrated Room Control, as well as the convenience and efficiency advantages of LCD controller designs in making daily energy management decisions. For facility managers, these integrated solutions provide easier access to a building’s HVAC, lighting and other energy management systems, and the integration of these technologies—including BACnet’s fully programmable controllers—facilitate informed operational decisions and control of energy consumption throughout a building’s systems.
A New Era of Energy Efficiency (Part 3) By Ed Ritchie
BACnet protocol allows HVAC control, lighting control, access control, fire detection systems, and other associated equipment to all speak the same language.
As building owners seek to gain full control of their energy consumption, the requirements for operating in a dynamic mode have challenged BAS manufacturers and the daily management tasks of their customers, but new solutions are easing the burden. For example, Distech Controls, Brossard, QC, offers its BACnet certified, Integrated Room Control (IRC) Solution for the control of HVAC room terminal equipment, lighting, and shades. It’s a modular solution designed for easy configuration to define operating cost savings for local or room applications, such as offices, patient rooms, dorms, military housing, and more.
For facility managers, Distech recently upgraded its ECB and ECL 50 Series BACnet controllers with integrated LCD operator interfaces. Interface design has a significant impact on ease of use, and the 50 Series controllers provide users with the ability to quickly view, edit, and configure an HVAC system’s operating parameters, while color-coded icons and highlights provide at-a-glance indication of alarms and override conditions. The display serves as a local HMI, facilitating system troubleshooting and diagnostics without the need for a laptop, offering maximum convenience and efficiency.
“These controllers are extremely handy,” says Caroline Cadieux, marketing and communications director at Distech. “This controller typically would be installed in a mechanical room to control terminal unit equipment or central plant equipment so most of the time it can be a panel mounted board attached directly to the terminal equipment itself. That makes the LCD even more practical because you have a local HMI regardless of where you are in the building. So, rather than having to unplug your laptop and go down to the mechanical room trying to find an Internet connection, you have access to all the functions of the actual controller.”
The functions allow quick access to operating parameters, and Cadieux notes that because the controllers are fully programmable, they’re not limited to HVAC. “It could be lighting, temperature, humidity, CO2, or anything you want to control. Today, more people are looking to get a fully integrated building automation or unified building automation system, because that’s how you get the most out of your automation—when you can actually make sure your lighting and HVAC and comfort parameters are responding from one central control system.”
Controls and systems such as Distech’s will be handling many new specialized components and the BACnet protocol has accelerated the introduction of these new products, according to BACnet’s McMillan. “There are people and companies that can now enter the market without having to supply complete systems and they can use BACnet as the interface and connect to the other systems. It’s very much like the days of the PC where now you can just make a printer and be OK.”