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Optimising energy costs in existing buildings
Intelligent upgrading to the most modern technology is possible
The energy balance of older buildings is significantly worse than that of new builds.
High levels of energy consumption offer great potential for energy savings - through
intelligent upgrade measures, existing installations can be enhanced with the most modern
building management systems (BMS). But how do we use the BMS "tool" to enable
building operators to make the right decisions for reducing energy consumption to a
minimum and for retaining it at this low level, without compromising on comfort?
The formula is simple: The individual subsystems must be run in an energy-optimised state, in
conjunction with an energy management system that encompasses all of the subsystems. For
experience shows that energy consumption is significantly reduced when an energy management
system is in place. With pre-existing installations, the challenge lies in determining suitable
parameters, and having a specific impact on the consumer. The necessary interfaces need to
either be upgraded or existing systems need to become integrated.
The collection of consumption values forms the basis of any form of energy management. To
this end, a suitable metering infrastructure must either pre-exist, or be created. This metering
infrastructure requires careful planning, which must have as its guide the level of detail
necessary for subsequent analysis and optimisation. Only if values are measured can they later
be utilised for analysis and optimisation.
The recorded information should not only be used for analysis, but also with the strong
aim of reducing energy consumption. The approach used for optimisation needs to allow for the
possibility of adjusting the process. In the first instance, this could entail overriding schedules or
the alteration of specified values. Further values that could be adjusted are the control and
regulation parameters.
Fig. 1: Building automation systems play a significant role in reducing energy consumption.
Legislation recognises this, and a framework of general conditions has been put in place
in different countries. It is also a legal requirement that a building must have an energy rating.
As is often the case, the challenges lie in the detail and in the costs incurred. The expenditure
will quickly be recouped however, when you think that two percent of the investment costs for
building automation influence over 25 percent of life-cycle costs.
Integration of existing system components
In order to minimise the costs of upgrading an existing building, and to recoup the
investment as quickly as possible, existing systems need to be extended and integrated into the
energy management system. An effective means of modernising is the integration of existing
systems with the extension of metering points to measure energy consumption.
In terms of integration, it is not only the HVAC systems that should be taken into account, but
all systems. The integration of lighting and security technology can prove to be especially
useful, as the individual components are often inadequately coordinated with one another in
terms of energy usage
Typical "problem scenarios" are:
In periods of fluctuating weather, heating and air conditioning systems run at the
same time.
Ventilation systems in conference rooms are switched on and off according to
usage schedules, but lighting control is not considered.
The building (or parts of it) is unused; security technology is in operation, and the
HVAC systems and lighting controls are still running at their usual set rates.
Due to the lack of monitoring points, "energy guzzlers" cannot be capped, and the
relevant action cannot be taken.
Aim: an integrated operating system covering all subsystems
Most modern technical systems in buildings are equipped with communication
interfaces. Indeed, within building automation systems there are a range of communication
protocols such as Bacnet, OPC, Lon, Modbus, M-Bus etc., which are being further developed in
parallel to one another. In addition, different manufacturers support different protocols. The
complexity of the data transmitted also influences the choice of communication protocol. The
ideal concept of a homogeneous bus system spanning all subsystems had, until recently, only
been achievable at an unjustifiably high cost.
Fig. 2: A homogeneous bus system, such as BACnet would be optimal. At the moment,
however, this is not feasible.
The requirements for communication between the systems within a building stem from
the goals and functions of the building technology:
Optimal operation of individual sub-systems in terms of energy
Cross-system operation and operational control
Energy efficient, "total-system building"
Building automation includes all installed subsystems - and optimisation also
encompasses all subsystems. An essential component of a functioning building automation
system is communication. The integration of multiple gateway solutions is, however, complex
and cost intensive.
Fig. 3: Complex integration via gateway solutions.
A solution already currently available is integration platforms such as CentraLine's
HAWK. This integration platform has an integrated web server, and is not tied to a PC. In this
way, no complicated operating system modifications and updates need occur. Thanks to this
web-based solution, those responsible for the system can access the connected subsystems at
any time and from anywhere, using standard browsers via the integration platform HAWK or
also via the control centre ARENA AX. The platform therefore boasts low operating and
maintenance costs, as well as excellent access availability in terms of time and location. At the
same time, it can easily communicate with PC-based IT systems and databases such as SAP,
Oracle or the Microsoft SQL server.
Systems like these support both the necessary hardware interfaces, and the relevant
software for integrating the individual protocols. This is the initial stage in bringing the
subsystems together, exchanging information such as load requirements, or using shared timer
programs. Measurement data and alarms also run on one system, therefore a single operating
system embracing all subsystems can be implemented.
Fig. 4: External systems can be integrated into a single system via an integration
platform, such as the HAWK by CentraLine.
The advantages of such a solution are clear: There is only one hardware platform for all
protocols. Additionally, service costs are reduced as only one configuration tool is used, which
reduces the overall complexity whilst increasing transparency.
The use of "open" communications standards is generally recommended for the
integration, i.e. protocols such as BACnet, LON, M-Bus and Modbus.
Wireless solutions offer interesting alternatives to high cabling costs; the activation of wireless
meters is also possible via wireless M-Bus receivers. Proprietary protocols can also be
implemented, however they harbour more risks in terms of the longevity of the integration
system, as every manufacturer is in charge of his own communication standard.
Communication as a basis for optimisation
The function of an integration platform is not only limited to the translation of
information, but rather covers a much broader function range. The individual subsytems must be
in a position to exchange information between one another. This includes:
Status information, such as temperatures, power, valve settings (points with
Show critical meter readings (alarms)
Setpoint values and command variables profiles (time programs)
Status variables profiles (trends, measurement data profiles)
For optimal coordination, one common language is desirable where possible. For certain
subsystems, however, the integration of other bus systems is also required. The long-term goal is
certainly to be using BACnet as the common system language.
A range of classic functions of control units is also covered. This enables a step-by-step
approach during the implementation of integration projects. After the integration of the
individual subsystems into one overall system, the challenge of a "collective operating
philosophy" arises. When considering installations with a high degree of integration, it is found
often that operation is highly complex, and that it differs between the individual subsystems.
The building operator or service technician must, however, also be "integrated". Even when
considering energy management systems, many of the optimisation measures are not fully
automatic, but rather are initiated by the operator on the basis of information gained from the
energy management system.
The energy management system has to monitor the process constantly, and inform the
operator accordingly (report). Ideally the system detects anomalies automatically, and control
options should also be provided, for guiding the process. Key indicators relating to energy are
used for standardising the process information. These make it easier to read and compare the
measured values. A typical KPI, for example, is the energy consumption standardised for the
usable area. In addition, however, values put into a business context are becoming increasingly
popular, so the energy consumption relative to the unit produced is also given (e.g. hectolitres of
beer, or rented server capacity).
Fig. 5: Data cycle of energy management system in a building
Previously implemented projects show that updating an energy management system with
an integration approach has not only had a positive influence on energy costs. Through the new
interfaces (web-based integration platforms), service tasks are perceived to be more efficient and
Coordinate technical systems
Exchange information (load requirements etc.)
Create possibilities for adjustment (superordinate time programs)
Upgrade measuring points
Install energy management (reports, alarms etc.)
Establish process for cyclical review.
The installation and operation of an energy management system is a multi-stage and
long-term process, which on the one hand necessitates the technical components being in place,
and on the other hand also requires know-how and trust between operators and technical
Energy management systems enable the comparison of buildings
Energy management systems that have already been introduced to the market, such as
CentraLine's Energy Management Essentials, help in the collection, archiving, analysis and
visualization of energy data for a building, and can therefore significantly reduce energy costs.
The web-based software helps in the detection of wasted energy, the optimisation of an energy
model for the building in question, in making buildings and properties comparable in order to
choose the best energy contracts, and in raising awareness about energy usage and energy
consumption. Data from a highly diverse range of consumers and data sources is therefore
collected at regular intervals, and comprehensive reports about the energy performance of a
building are created. In this way it is possible to see how much energy is used, and where.
Consumption values can therefore be converted into costs.
User-specific access through mobile devices
Smartphones and tablets can also help people to access BMS components such as HVAC
systems, lighting and energy management, if they are equipped with the HAWK integration
platform or CentraLine's control centre ARENAAX. This can be done through WebApps. These
mobile websites are configured by CentraLine Partners, in line with the needs of the user, so that
every individual only sees what he actually wants and needs. For every user group, optimal ease
of use on all devices is guaranteed. The access to alarms, time scheduling and trend data is very
efficiently designed, providing further value for all user groups.
Practical experience demonstrates that with minimal effort, existing buildings can be
upgraded with the latest technology platforms. An integrated BMS plus professional energy
management enables significant savings to be made, and offers the advantage of a coherently
operable overall system. CentraLine offers complete solutions, ranging from an entire portfolio
of meters, the integration of external meters to a complete range of controllers, workstations and
energy management tools. A facility manager or service partner can operate these solutions
locally and via remote access.
12.476 characters (including spaces)
Ronny Scherf
Product Manager
CentraLine c/o Honeywell GmbH
Images (CentraLine, reprinting free of charge, provided that image source is indicated):
HAWK is a compact platform that integrates
HVAC systems as well as non-HVAC
systems (e.g. lighting control) in a building.
CentraLine's mobile websites are configured
by CentraLine Partners, in line with the
needs of the user. The user therefore only
sees the information he wants and needs.
The web-based supervisor ARENA AX monitors
the systems. This entails the integration of mobile
devices for the most commonly used functions
such as settings, time scheduling, alarm
management and data trends.
ESSENTIALS software, considerable energy
savings can be made. Data from a range of
consumers and data sources is collected at regular
intervals, and comprehensive reports about the
energy performance of a building are created.
For more information on CentraLine please call our infoline on
+49 (0) 70 31 / 637-1 or visit our website at You can also email us at [email protected]
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