Home // Building Analytics – The Next Phase of HVAC Operational Efficiency

Building Analytics - The Next Phase of HVAC Operational Efficiency

HVAC Preventive Maintenance functions on the philosophy that proactive inspection and repair of equipment can drive greater long-term value of the HVAC equipment investment, and reduce system downtime associated with equipment issues.

Building owners or operators desire for a system to operate at optimal levels throughout its lifecycle. Just like any equipment or system, optimal functionality is only possible with ongoing maintenance and proactive equipment repair and replacement. The difficulty comes in assessing the amount of time necessary to inspect and maintain every piece of equipment on an ongoing basis.

THE BURDEN OF LABOR

To truly maintain an HVAC system at optimal efficiency throughout its lifecycle, the labor hours necessary for ongoing inspection becomes excessive. Budget constraints have historically forced facilities to reduce the necessary HVAC maintenance allocation to less than ideal levels. In this process, maintenance teams have had to prioritize where attention and labor were directed, based on what they perceived the greatest needs and concerns to be.

Facilities teams have done excellent jobs maintaining systems in the midst of this needs gap, and as this gap has continued, technology has advanced and solutions to help better manage facilities have developed.

THE VALUE OF ANALYTICS

As technology has become more available and pervasive in our society, it has provided the opportunity to gain greater insights into every aspect of our equipment and environments. Technology’s value, however, is defined by the user’s ability to understand it’s purpose and apply it correctly.

Analytics have been integrated into almost every aspect of our lives and businesses. Analytics in our phones tell us the trends in our battery power, how we are using our mobile data, and even how our step counts are contributing toward our fitness goals. If we choose to interpret and utilize the data provided through phone analytics, we can prolong battery life between charges, adjust our data use to reduce the cost of data plans, and take proactive actions toward improving our health.

Analytics for our building systems are no different. They provide valuable insights into equipment health and can be used to improve control over the building environment. The value, though, is in the user’s ability and willingness to use the data provided.

While building analytics provide enough inherent value to exist as a stand-alone solution for optimizing a building, it has also been effectively deployed to supplement existing Preventive Maintenance programs. Hands-on preventive maintenance and inspection have been necessary to maintain efficient systems, but the value of maintenance is partially defined by how often it is done. Perhaps a technician inspects and services a system once per week to ensure operation. That would equate to 8 hours of dedicated system assessment time out of 168 hours in a week. Onsite inspection time is valuable, but it is difficult for any team to maintain event daily inspections of a system.

The value of integrating building analytics into an existing preventive maintenance plan is its ability to provide 24/7 assessment of an HVAC system. It not only assesses the equipment, but provides fault detection and monitoring, energy usage data, operation efficiency trends, and actionable recommendations to optimize a facility.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PEOPLE AND TECHNOLOGY

Building Analytics is not intended to displace the need for personnel, but rather to help optimize their time. The use of technology elevates the value of personnel and elevates the value of their skill sets.

It also allows new maintenance personnel to immediately bring value in the process of maintaining a facility. No longer are they obligated to learn the unique eccentricities of equipment in a facility that is only gained by years of equipment interaction.

The operational target for building analytics deployment is a partnership relationship between technology and people. The technology does nothing more than observe and analyze the HVAC equipment, and make recommendations based on the data it compiles. The personnel can then analyze the data and recommendations, make the best choices based on the information at hand, and use their systems and equipment expertise to execute projects which help avoid future equipment failures and improve system and equipment efficiency.

The greatest benefit gained by the partnership between technology and personnel is the efficiency gained in both system equipment and operational manpower. The labor invested in managing a facility is utilized toward maintenance efforts that make the most sense for the organization, rather than toward repeated visual assessments of the operational function of equipment and systems.

Additionally, equipment issues are never isolated in their impact and can have trickle-down effects throughout a system. At best, the trickle-down impact may drive higher costs in either energy or water usage. More often, however, one issue causes many issues, and when unaddressed, and equipment lifecycles are shortened as equipment deterioration and failure is expedited. The value of building analytics is in its ability to identify these issues well before they create larger problems.

The relationship between technology and personnel is invaluable when shifting a maintenance program from reactive to proactive or predictive maintenance. Both technology and personnel are vital to a holistic plan to operate a facility at optimal efficiency throughout its lifecycle.

IMPROVING THE OCCUPANT EXPERIENCE

As has been discussed and reinforced in several recent CM3 articles, when assessing the value of any activity and investment, the impact on the building occupant must be considered. Prioritizing occupant comfort changes how decisions are made, but the return on investment for efforts that improve occupant comfort can be exponentially higher than the first cost.

Building occupants are traditionally the highest organizational expense. While the process of effectively maintaining efficient building operations saves money in the long run, the impact of proactive investments toward occupant comfort has a direct impact on their productivity levels which can translate to greater revenue and performance.

Technology can be a great asset in improving and maintaining building operations if we allow it to. Building analytics can help building operators make proactive and well-informed decisions to better maintain the building environment. These decisions can lower utility costs, increase equipment lifecycle, increase system efficiency, and increase occupant comfort and productivity.

There are many benefits to incorporating building analytics into a building maintenance program. Contact CM3 today to discuss how incorporating analytics into your facilities to help you achieve your operational goals.

Stay In Touch With
Our Newsletter!