Shan Bates’ post on how a tenant could benefit from buildings systems integration struck a chord with me. It’s probably because it is what my Facilities team has been working on for the past 3 years.
I work for Earth Rangers, a not-for-profit that is focused on the education and inspiration of the next generation of environmental stewards – like my four year old son. So it makes sense that our headquarters is a high performance building–LEED Gold certified–and that it is operated that way as well.
A typical day for an employee at Earth Rangers looks like this: carpool to the building (we do not have great access to public transit) and park in the parking lot beneath one of the building’s six solar trackers. If you have an electric car, plug it in. Then, walk past the bioswale (that filters storm water from the parking lot), swipe in to the building with an access card at the employee entrance, and smile at the camera in the entrance. If the occupant is first to arrive that day, the building’s intrusion detection automatically disarms, with no need to remember a code. A picture of the employee lights up on the security board, so others know who is in or out when they arrive (good to know if your boss is in yet!).
Ventilation systems providing efficient, high quality fresh air then activate, because the automation system knows the building is occupied, and it then starts tracking CO2 levels to keep air fresh. The lighting schedule activates as well, and the tenants can turn a light on or off above their desks through an app on their laptop once they have their coffee in hand and sit down at their workstation.
The space is comfortable, because the automation system is keeping the radiant heating and cooling system within ASHRAE comfort levels, while tracking its energy use and responding to time of day pricing.
At the end of the day, the last occupant leaves, and the reverse sequence happens, without relying on generic schedules (who leaves at 5pm?) to make sure that the building is operating only as needed. Lights are off, mechanical systems are automatically in setback, and security systems are active.
This integration has led to a current Energy Star Rating of 95 for the building. Energy monitoring is showing where waste is still occurring (mostly at a workstation level with plug loads), and allowing the facility team to continue to improve on an already efficient building. If an Energy Star 95 building can continuously improve, imagine an “average” building!
Admittedly, there are hiccups in the scenario, which come down to tenant education and engagement. The tour that I have linked to above helps immensely with this. Staff can look at how the building is performing from an energy, water, or climate impact perspective, and are more likely to help support corporate goals as a result.
The point I am trying to make is that these technologies and strategies make sense now and are not in some building of the future. Earth Rangers is proving that now, and we hope to inspire others to do the same.
If you would like to see the many integrated design strategies that have been implemented at the Earth Rangers Centre, take a look at our online building tour at www.ercshowcase.com