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In Focus: Intelligent Services Enable High-Performance Buildings

Paul McMurphy, Product Strategy Manager, Trane (August 2012)
It is impossible to overstate the importance of developing and implementing effective operating, service, and maintenance strategies required to sustain a new building's original design performance expectations over its decades-long occupied life. In fact, according to the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), operating and maintenance costs account for 65-80 percent of a typical commercial building's total lifecycle costs.

Building owners and operators have relied for decades on a traditional preventive maintenance approach, servicing heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) and other building systems by performing prescribed tasks at recommended intervals. The actual benefits associated with this model are mostly implied, with no direct and measurable correlation to preventing degradation of performance or efficiency or even failures.

"Smart" Services

Technology innovations and the increasing accessibility to real-time system data are enabling a new data-centric approach to building services in which outcomes can be validated. These "smart" services provide tools and resources to help building operators manage energy use and operating costs in real time, perform required maintenance at the right time, minimize their environmental footprint, improve building system reliability and uptime, and resolve operational problems quickly and efficiently.

For example, the use of advanced sensing technology and proprietary analytics to continuously collect, interpret, and act upon data compiled from building systems and other sources helps to continuously optimize building performance. With a more analytics-driven approach to building operations, critical building areas and the systems serving them are continuously monitored to validate that operating metrics remain within tolerance and risks are mitigated. The system responds automatically or provides specific recommendations to keep the building operating within the performance specifications chosen by the operator.

Service levels are tailored to meet the specific needs of building stakeholders. Service providers can monitor building system performance and alert operators when a problem occurs. Or, they can take additional steps to diagnose suspected operational anomalies or actual problematic events, determine remedial options, and respond appropriately. By using the growing capabilities of technology, many issues can be addressed remotely. Trane's experience shows that up to 40 percent of discovered site issues can be resolved in 30 minutes or less.

Start With an Audit
The intelligent services migration process begins with an operational building audit, which provides the information needed to set an operating baseline and tolerances that are aligned with key stakeholder demands and expectations. For instance, operational standards may be defined for energy and water consumption, indoor air quality, occupant health and comfort, and system reliability and uptime.

Choosing the best operating, maintenance, and service approach can mean the difference between a continuously high-performing building that is an organizational asset and one that degrades in overall performance and occupant satisfaction, and costs more to operate over time, putting the occupying organization's mission at risk.
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