Imaging working in one of the smartest buildings on the planet — one that is continually becoming smarter. To achieve this goal, the company relies on Andy Schonberger, director for the Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology, a 60,000-square-foot showcase of energy-saving green technologies starring Schneider Electric’s building automation, energy monitoring and energy management systems.
The Platinum LEED-certified headquarters for Earth Rangers, a kids’ conservation group, is located in Woodbridge, Ontario, north of Toronto, and houses nearly 70 people and 50 animals, the latter of which the organization takes to schools and other events to educate children about conservation and sustainability. The kids don’t come to the center, but professional groups interested in green technologies regularly tour the facility to educate themselves on how an intelligent building system can trim energy usage by 10 percent each year and use 90 percent less energy than buildings of comparable size.
“It’s remarkable the savings they’ve achieved,” says Sera Moffatt, director of Marketing and Business Development for Schneider Electric, North America Operations, Canada.
The center employs renewable energy sources, such as 85 kilowatts (kW) of solar panels that provide a third of the power consumed, and a geothermal heating and cooling system that draws warmth from the ground in the winter and cools the building by removing heat and transferring it into the ground in the summer. A rooftop array with an additional 80 kW of additional solar is planned, bringing the solar production to about 45 percent of the building’s electrical usage.
Because renewable energy can only do so much, other energy savings is realized through the building automation, energy monitoring and energy management systems, in addition to energy-efficient LED lighting, lighting controls and water recycling. Since installing the automation system in 2008, the center has saved over 130,000 kW of energy, enough to drive an electric car around the world 20 times and enabling the facility to reduce its carbon footprint by 40 percent.
The installation of the Schneider Energy Management Information System (EMIS) helped the facility achieve LEED Canada Platinum status for Existing Buildings, giving it dual LEED certification that included Gold status earned after the building was constructed in 2004.
Building Automation Plus
Schneider’s Andover Continuum building automation system controls all radiant in-floor heating, cooling, ventilation and the day-to-day system operation of the building, such as lighting and access control. The IP-based system uses the BACNet communications protocol and operates systems based on consumption, occupancy and the time of day to minimize energy consumption.
Some 36 network controllers in the building are connected to hundreds of building components to open valves, turn on lights, and allow everything from carbon dioxide levels to humidity and temperature to be investigated at a glance with Schneider’s energy management software. Troubleshooting the systems is possible by simply scanning QR codes throughout the building with a smartphone or tablet. The QR codes link a smartphone to a database for tracking, energy metering for components and PDFs of operation manuals. The system also turns lights on only when needed, as much of the facility is illuminated by natural daylight through windows and skylights. Photo sensors throughout the building trigger lights to come on, though Schonberger says some lights rarely turn on to illuminate certain areas.