Carnegie Mellon Looks to IBM, Cloud for Energy Savings

by   |   March 6, 2015 1:17 pm   |   0 Comments

Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University is using a new, cloud-based analytics system from IBM to reduce energy consumption and costs at its facilities.

Carnegie Mellon will deploy the new IBM Building Management Center, which will be delivered on the IBM SoftLayer cloud. The university, the first higher education institution to use the new cloud-based analytics system, expects to save about 10 percent in utility costs – about $2 million, annually.

“On its own, the deployment of this technology will drive significant energy and operational savings with a very attractive return on investment,” Donald Coffelt, associate vice president for Carnegie Mellon University’s Facilities Management Services, said in a statement announcing the partnership. “Just as important, improved building performance enhances the occupant experience and provides a much more effective education and research environment.”

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IBM’s Building Management Center will track thousands of data points from existing building automation and control systems, such as elevators, HVAC, lighting, and alarms, to monitor their performance and identify opportunities to improve efficiency and increase cost savings. In addition, the system also will detect system problems such as simultaneous heating and cooling not identified by other means, and automatically initiate corrective actions.

The new technology will be piloted in nine of the university’s buildings and eventually rolled out to 36 buildings across campus. The initial application of the Building Management Center will focus on HVAC systems and later will extend to lighting, water, and other utilities. The system is scheduled for full implementation in about three years.

The partnership with IBM will help Carnegie Mellon meet its commitments to Pittsburgh 2030, a local collaborative effort that’s part of a national effort to build, renovate, and redevelop millions of square feet of urban and suburban areas to meet the water, energy, and emission-reduction targets of the 2030 Challenge for Planning. The school is a founding partner of Pittsburgh 2030’s expansion to the city’s Oakland section.

Click to enlarge

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According to a report by the National Science and Technology Council, “Commercial and residential buildings consume about one-third of the world’s energy. In the United States, buildings account for more than 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, including 72 percent of electricity generation, 12 percent of water consumption, and 60 percent of all nonindustrial waste. If current trends continue, by 2025 buildings worldwide will be the largest consumer of global energy, more than the transportation and industry sectors combined.”

“This technology offers us important gains in initiatives related to advanced infrastructure systems research, the Pittsburgh 2030 initiative, and a more proactive building and infrastructure management model,” said Coffelt.

The Smarter Buildings Initiative will connect with research already underway at Carnegie Mellon’s Smart Infrastructure Institute, of which IBM is a founding partner, and the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. In addition, faculty and students affiliated with CMU’s multidisciplinary Metro21 initiative, which seeks to design and develop solutions affecting the economy and quality of life in metropolitan areas, are planning to use data generated from the Building Management Center in their research.

“Given CMU’s renown as a world leader in engineering and computer science, this new collaboration for smarter buildings is a natural fit,” said Wayne Balta, vice president, IBM Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety. “CMU will harness data and analytics delivered via cloud computing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of building management across campus. We have done this within IBM and know it to be good for our business as well as the environment.”

For more information on the IBM-Carnegie Mellon partnership, click here.

Scott Etkin is the managing editor of Data Informed. Email him at Follow him on Twitter: @Scott_WIS.

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