HIGH PERFORMANCE BUILDINGS SERIES: AUTOMATED ONGOING COMMISSIONING (AOCx)
As an energy engineer for AtSite, Inc., I’m constantly aware of the energy reductions that come from optimizing your buildings. Turn off your lights, save energy. Set back your thermostats, save energy. On its own energy savings can usually make a compelling case for investing in smart building solutions like Automated Ongoing Commissioning (AOCx). But in my career of optimizing buildings I’ve also observed tangible benefits beyond energy savings. These include: Maintenance Optimization, Tenant Comfort and Lifecycle Optimization.
DATA DRIVEN DECISION MAKING
To optimize a building, AtSite follow a process of continual improvement to drive results and improve building performance. This process starts with data and ends with improved results, whatever one determine those goals to be:
Collaborate with Key Stakeholders
Create Actionable Recommendations
Regardless of what type of data is available, the same process holds. Each step is important and flows to the next.
WHAT IS AOCx
To optimize buildings, AtSite uses the data driven process described above. AOCx specifically utilizes a building’s existing Building Automation System (BAS) and Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) as the primary data source. It is possible to optimize a building with limited data like monthly utility bills, daily energy reports and energy audits by following a data driven process. However that visibility is limited. AOCx combines all this data with BAS and CMMS data to create recommendations and drive building performance.
A rule of thumb in the Commercial Real Estate industry is that an organization spends $3 on utilities, $30 on rent and $300 on salaries. When viewed in this light, utilities are a very small piece of the pie. Energy savings are absolutely important, but there are many costs to an organization beyond just utilities. If building performance can improve upon other costs like rent or payroll, that brings significant value to an organization.
A DIET FOR YOUR BUILDING
Another way of looking at the full value of building performance, is thinking of it like a healthy diet for a building. A person may decide to go on a diet simply to lose weight. But once they start eating healthy, other benefits emerge. More energy, better mood and even increased life expectancy are arguably more important than just the weight loss.
For a building owner, they may jump into an energy efficiency program to shave money off their utility bills. Once they start the program, other benefits emerge: Maintenance Optimization, Tenant Comfort and Lifecycle Optimization.
AOCx VALUE PROPOSITION
Automated Ongoing Commissioning drives value in many ways for an organization. To show the value, AtSite does three things: Define the value, Define the metric, and gather the data. Energy Savings provides a simple example:
Similarly, AtSite can show value for the other categories. Utilizing AOCx saves time for the building staff. By sorting through all the data in the BAS for them, AOCx identifies the root cause of an issue quickly. Building staff can spend their time fixing issues instead of looking for them. AOCx can prove the benefit by looking at total work orders performed and how long the tasks take. An organization can reduce maintenance costs or increase worker efficiency.
For any organization, the comfort of their tenants and employees is extremely important. AOCx can track areas that tend to be too hot, too cold, poorly ventilated, etc. By addressing these issues before a tenant or employee complains, they are happier and more productive. AOCx tracks how many hot and cold calls come in through the CMMS. Other data sources, like tenant surveys can show how tenant satisfaction improves over time, or compares to other buildings:
Finally, equipment lifecycle will significantly affect an organization’s bottom line. Capital investments can be millions of dollars, so equipment must last as long as possible. AOCx keeps track of equipment stop/starts and will flag when the equipment cycles too often. The value here is increased equipment life and eventually reduced capital investment.
To summarize, energy savings can make a strong case for investing in building performance. And beyond energy savings, the benefits are just as apparent. Maintenance Optimization, Tenant Comfort and Lifecycle Optimization all affect the bottom line. AOCx uses data to improve all these metrics, and visualizes the effects to validate them.