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RU Building Automation System Provides State-of-the-Art Utility Usage Information

RADFORD -- As organizations scrutinize costs and usage of utilities like water or electricity with an eye toward saving, Radford University boasts a building automation system that puts it among the leaders in higher education.

RU’s system monitors more than 67,000 points that include room temperatures, open windows, occupancy sensors and other system operations.

“Utility costs have become more volatile in the last five years,” said Director of Facilities Management Jorge Coartney. “RU has traditionally invested its utility savings in building automation and now we are among the first schools in Virginia to be fully digitally-metered.”

building automation systems
Jo Ann Alger, RU’s building automation engineer, monitors the university's usage information.

RU’s main campus is now 100 percent digitally-metered and each building is monitored by a building automation system that feeds the building’s utility usage data back to a computer station monitored by Jo Ann Alger, RU’s building automation engineer, in the Armstrong Complex. The utility information that fills Alger’s console in the form of a dashboard can tell Alger where the electricity is going, where the water is flowing and other details about the campus utilities.

Digitally-metered means that RU’s building automation system is connected to all of RU’s water, steam and electrical usage in real-time so that it can be tracked in present usage or over any period of time including minutes, hours or days.

Citing a recent incident in which a three-quarter-inch water pipe broke and resulted in a waste of water in an area of campus that was unoccupied at the time, Coartney said that such anomalies would now be identified sooner and personnel alerted to make repairs in short order.

“Occupant comfort is our main priority,” said Alger, who is a certified energy manager. “And getting the best value for our utility investment by understanding how the campus uses them and when and where is very helpful in making sure everybody is comfortable without waste.”

Beyond giving Alger and Coartney an understanding on how campus systems are functioning in real-time, the building automation system provides valuable insight into trends that can influence future decisions on how energy or water might be better controlled as new buildings come online or as existing buildings are renovated.

“Understanding and managing its utility costs has been a longtime priority for RU,” said Coartney. “Years of savings and subsequent reinvestment of those savings have enabled us to create this system that adds value in terms of long-term savings and improved capabilities.”

December 9, 2010
Don Bowman; 540-831-7523

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