How Ecopilot Works
What's the issue?
The control of HVAC systems in an office, school or hospital are generally designed to generate an indoor climate of 21-22 degrees. To deliver this, many control systems are set-up to follow the outdoor temperature or work on the basis of a fixed model, with set start and stop times and fixed temperature settings. The controls form a predicted, simplified model of a complex and fluid real environment inside and outside of the building being controlled. Ecopilot is a software which integrates with the BMS, aligning it with the more complex reality. This is achieved by using real time indoor data, raw weather forecasts, in depth knowledge of the thermodynamics of buildings and utilisation of internal free energy.
What are the challenges?
Deliver and maintain an optimal indoor climate with minimal consumption 24/7
1. Stop heating and cooling at the same time, it’s costly and wasteful.
2. Find a more effective guide for your BMS to follow rather than the outside temperature. 3. Anticipate the heating and cooling demands of the building. Develop a proactive methodology, rather than reacting to changing circumstances that may require manual fine tuning of the BMS.
The paradigm shift
The building balance point temperature is the outdoor air temperature when the heat gains of the building are equal to the heat losses. Internal heat sources due to electric lighting, mechanical equipment, body heat, and solar radiation may offset the need for additional heating although the outdoor temperature may be below the thermostat set-point temperature. It is the base temperature necessary to calculate heating degree day to anticipate the energy demand to heat a building. The balance point temperature is a consequence of building design and function rather than outdoor weather conditions.
What is the thermal characteristic of my building?
A building’s thermal characteristic may be described as either internally load dominated or envelope load dominated, each having a characteristic balance point temperature. Each building has a unique thermal characteristic that can be leveraged.
What does Ecopilot do?
Ecopilot’s function and what it does is ultimately very simple; It offsets the BMS from its prescribed set-points, in order to align with the building balance temperature rather
than the outside temperature.
The “how” is not so simple – Ecopilot uses mathematical algorithms to assess the static and fluid elements to calculate the ever-changing building balance temperature, in order to maintain optimum comfort levels while using only the necessary heating and cooling resources to do so. The result is a better indoor climate and reduced energy consumption.
Is there an alternative to achieve this?
You can hire a team of very talented engineers that intimately understand the thermal characteristics of your building and can calculate the speed with which heat radiates into and from that building. Their day starts by assessing the current internal load, solar incident radiation & direction, outside temperature, precipitation, wind speed & direction and humidity, as well as other fluid elements and comparing them to the static thermal characteristics to determine the buildings current balance point temperature. They then offset the BMS set-points for heating, cooling and ventilation systems, to align with the balance temperature at the right level to achieve optimum comfort levels and repeat the process for every zone.
Dealing with the ever-changing internal load
... but then, people arrive and the dynamics of the internal load change. They fluctuate throughout the course of the day, depending on the number of people in the building, the activities they perform and the equipment used. With each change, in each zone, on each floor, the engineer re-runs the calculations and manually changes BMS set-points, ensuring the climate is ideal for the buildings inhabitants and eliminating any unnecessary overlap in HVAC systems. SUCCESS!!! Your engineer has achieved the goal, optimal indoor climate with minimal consumption.
Take it to the next level
Next, they need access to raw weather forecast data for the coming week. With this data, they run through the same process, but with an understanding of what the buildings future requirements will be. They're now proactively ecodriving the building. They're able to utilise the effects of free cooling to further reduce the need to consume energy the day before a heat wave and because they know in advance how cold it will be in 3 days’ time, appreciate that it will in fact cost less to maintain the heating at a low level, utilising the buildings thermal characteristics to effectively store heat, than to turn the heating off completely, only to ramp-up to maximum output when the perceived need arises.
Assuming your facilities/engineering department doesn’t have the time or the resources to dedicate 24 man hours a day to achieve the above, you may want to consider integrating an Ecopilot to work with your BMS to do this effectively and automatically.
Ecopilot uses algorithms, assessing the static (thermal mass) and fluid (outside temp, solar incident radiation, wind speed/direction, internal load, precipitation, humidity, etc.) elements in the equation to constantly calculate the variable balance temperature of a building, based on the current and future conditions that will affect your property. It then offsets the BMS from its prescribed set-points to follow the balance temperature rather than the outside temperature.
The result is elimination of unnecessary system overlaps (heating and cooling in the same day, or even at the same time), a reduction in fluctuation, which equates to a reduction in consumption and therefore costs, while maintaining an optimal indoor climate. The integration of Ecopilot into a BMS delivers a consumption reduction of 20-40%.