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Gaining visibility into campus buildings’ real-time energy performance

In MIT’s Building 68, the biology building, continuous commissioning led to adjustments in the building’s automation system yielding significant energy and cost savings.
Caption:
In MIT’s Building 68, the biology building, continuous commissioning led to adjustments in the building’s automation system yielding significant energy and cost savings.
Credits:
Photo: David J. Conlon, MIT

Although energy use can account for up to 70 percent of an MIT building’s operating cost, exactly where and why that consumption occurs is not obvious. And when a blip in a building’s internal workings can lead to even higher costs, it helps to know what’s going on, energy-wise, around the clock.

At MIT, Building 68, the biology building, has been the subject of close scrutiny since January 2009. Called continuous commissioning, or data-based commissioning, this monitoring is an ongoing process to resolve building operating problems, improve comfort, and optimize energy use.

“Computer analysis of building data points out operating patterns that fall outside of a determined tolerance level and recommends the affected system components for study by an engineer,” says Peter Cooper, manager of sustainability engineering and utility planning. “In this manner, large amounts of data can be evaluated and sifted to allow us to identify potential energy savings opportunities.”

In the Building 68 pilot project, the pay-off has been significant. In the current fiscal year, more than $3.1 million of the building’s $4.5 million operating expense has been for steam, chilled water, and electricity. Based on the first three months of monitoring, annual savings from changes in Building 68 alone are projected to top $360,000.

To continue reading this article on the MITEI web site, visit http://web.mit.edu/mitei/campus/spotlights/real-time.html


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