Building Management

Why application-specific controllers are changing the playing field for zone-level control

In a commercial building, if rooms are too hot or dimly lit, people are less likely to be productive. Seems like a stretch, but it’s true. The way people feel in a building is one of the reasons the ability to control temperature, humidity, lighting and airflow is so critical for a successful environment. Consider this…one study concluded that from a survey of 100 U.S. office buildings, 23 percent of office workers experienced frequent symptoms respiratory ailments, allergies, and asthma. Typically the impact has been hidden in sick days, lower productivity and medical cost, but the economic impact is enormous. with an estimated decrease in productivity around 2 percent nationwide, this results in an annual cost to the United States of approximately $60 billion. A similar study concluded that by improving office worker productivity by 0.5 to 5 percent, an estimated savings of $20 to $200 billion is the norm. Astonishing when you break it down, isn’t it?

Is the cost to retrofit commercial buildings for better comfort, more than the financial benefits it brings? Well, here is where the playing field begins to change.

Schneider Electric research shows that using today’s integrated application-specific controllers instead of traditional direct digital controllers (DDCs) can reduce installation time and labor costs by 75%.

Integrated application-specific controllers can offer contractors and installers a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Integrated application-specific controllers can offer contractors and installers a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Traditional versus advanced technology

The bigger the building, the more challenging it becomes to ensure enjoyable and safe settings for people. A building management system is necessary, and within this system, room controllers that allow a building operator to manage all building functions from a single workstation.

When it comes to room and zone control, traditional DDCs or newer application-specific integrated controllers achieve the same goal. The key difference is that an integrated controller has built-in capabilities specific to the application for which it was designed, such as heating and cooling, occupancy sensing, and lighting, as well as HVAC equipment like RTUs and fan coils. Conversely, traditional DDCs require individual programming and connection, which is further complicated by the numerous sensors today’s controllers need to manage.

Comparison of time and labor costs to install DDCs vs. integrated controllers

Comparison of time and labor costs to install DDCs vs. integrated controllers

Modern application-specific controllers, however, integrate sensor, programming logic and wiring connectivity in a single device. They may lack the flexibility of traditional DDCs, but because integrated controllers are much simpler and less expensive to install, ROI is typically stronger.

You can read more about the differences between the traditional and new technologies in the white paper, “Integrated Application-Specific Controllers: A New Approach to Zone-Level Control.”

Faster installation, smarter investment

Today, many contractors and integrators are opting for application-specific integrated controllers and in addition to savings. They’re finding that switching to application-specific controllers can open up new competitive opportunities while enabling higher profitability and faster commissioning.

The simplicity of installing and connecting integrated controllers along with the time savings and increased profitability make integrated controllers the appropriate choice for most commercial buildings.

What are you doing to improve the comfort level in your building? Let us know in the comments below!


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