Texas A&M University pioneered the concept of MBCx, trademarking its specific approach as Continuous Commissioning®. MBCx is most commonly performed by a third-party contractor, who installs the energy management system and trains facility staff in the monitoring and upkeep required to use it. While performing the MBCx process and taking a look at the entire building’s energy use, it’s a good time to consider installing additional equipment for increased energy savings. This includes programmable thermostats, occupancy sensors and lighting controls, smart power strips, adjustable-speed drives, and more. When looking at alternate contractors or other forms of energy management software, a good rule of thumb is to compare what they offer to Texas A&M’s comprehensive process.
All energy management systems should diagnose failed or nonoptimized equipment, and over time they should prompt repair or proper calibration that leads to further long-term savings. Texas A&M’s process involves several steps that are facilitated by individual modules within a software package and provides an excellent example of what to look for when choosing energy management software.
Step 1: Assess opportunities.
A module asks for input data such as energy consumption from utility bills, then it calculates savings potential and provides an early estimate of savings.
Step 2: Build a software model.
After a site assessment gathers diagnostics on the facility, the resulting data is entered into the second module to provide the basis for a model of the facility’s energy use. The model is then calibrated to match the measured energy consumption.
Step 3: Implement.
This module sets up trend logs associated with specific systems and equipment in the facility; trained engineering staff can monitor those logs.
The module continuously identifies problems, highlighting systems that can be tweaked and optimized. Opportunities for improvement include, for example, old equipment that needs replacing, mechanical fixes and retrofits, temperature setpoint adjustments in a manufacturing process, heat-transfer maintenance, design changes, and modified employee behavior.
Step 4: Rebuild and recalibrate model.
Once measures have been implemented and the facility is running optimally, the model-building module should be used once more to provide an updated, stricter standard for keeping the facility at its best.
Step 5: Validate.
This module will calculate savings from measured data by comparing each improved model to its baseline while also providing a graphical output.
Step 6: Sustain.
To make savings stick, this module monitors performance and provides whole-building FDD. The module determines savings degradation over time and reports where savings are being lost.
Step 7: Dashboard.
This module summarizes data and provides different snapshots on issues such as energy consumption, energy load, or air quality; it’s useful for facility managers or CEOs who are keeping an eye on building performance.
Even the best monitoring systems won’t be effective unless a highly trained team of building engineers, control contractors, mechanical contractors, and other professionals is assembled. These experts are needed to interpret and analyze the recorded building data. The strength of MBCx lies in the proactive nature of the approach, instead of merely fixing systems once they break. This proactive monitoring of systems may require building owners to develop new business procedures to best support new technology and personnel. Once MBCx is initiated, it’s important to start slow, with a manageable workload, to avoid overwhelming engineering staff. An ongoing operational budget should be allocated to address faults and support facility improvement because MBCx is not worth implementing without extended commitment.
To help implement MBCx, utilities may offer incentives that help reinforce the long-term management of equipment. By combining software analysis of building data, and combining it with an engineering team’s expertise, MBCx is the next step in facility engineering operation and maintenance.