JCI White Paper Provides Guide to Central Plant Optimization

Building efficiency experts from Johnson Controls recently provided some well-integrated guidelines to central plant efficiency, in a white paper titled, "Seven Steps to Maximizing Central Plant Efficiency."

The white paper's authors — Dave Klee, Johnson Controls' director of channel marketing and strategy, HVAC, and Gary Gigot, vice president, business development, Optimum Energy, LLC, — explain the rationale behind Central Plant Optimization (CPO), and its seven steps. The white paper is available as a free, downloadable PDF. http://bit.ly/jciwhitepaper.

Klee and Gigot describe CPO as a holistic, pyramidal approach that provides managers and contractors a series of steps for helping central plants reach and sustain high-performance and high-efficiency. Steps include:

1. Design of System Infrastructure. The foundation of any optimization plan is a well-designed system infrastructure that supports central plant efficiency. In new construction, the key is to design with operational flexibility in mind.

2. Selection of Components. Here, the primary objective is to choose components that will perform efficiently in real-world operating conditions. Klee and Gigot believe best practices call for selecting plant components that will operate most efficiently at the load where they are going to run the most.

3. Application of Components. When installing or evaluating the performance of components, Klee and Gigot offer these best practices:

  • Run the plant at its designed chilled water temperature.
  • Don't push too much or too little water through the chiller.
  • Take advantage of the environment.

4. System Automation. Klee and Gigot believe that building owners who already have a building automation system (BAS) in place are well-positioned to take advantage of optimization. Those who don’t must make the shift, because even the most skilled human operators in the world would have a hard time operating a plant as efficiently and effectively as a current BAS.

5. Networked Optimization Software. According to Klee and Gigot, today’s networked optimization software takes advantage of building automation systems to maximize central plant efficiency. It’s standardized and scalable, yet takes into account the specific energy characteristics of a plant’s equipment.

6. Maintenance. With Central Plant Optimization, service is no longer a "set it and forget it" proposition. This should help contractors whose customers only want a once a year service visit.

Predictive maintenance — the ability to identify issues before they become problems — is essential to maintaining the optimization of today’s central chiller water plants. Predictive maintenance also places an inherently different responsibility on the people who are providing service.

7. Measurement, Verification and Management. When real-time data is available anytime or location, issues such as performance drift can be identified long before the degradation results in significant loss of efficiency or, at worse, equipment failure.

Klee and Gigot advise building owners and managers to invest time into a serious evaluation of their current building/energy use scenarios.

"Once fully implemented, Central Plant Optimization can deliver central plant energy savings of up to 60%," Klee and Gigot say.

In other company news, officials at Johnson Control reported in March that its current public sector building efficiency projects in the U.S. are guaranteed to save more than $4.7 billion in reduced energy, water and operational costs over the next 10 years.

Additionally, it has already produced more than $19 billion in energy savings for both its public and private sector customers. Johnson Controls Building Efficiency business unit is participating in more than 1,000 active projects in federal, state, and local government facilities across all 50 states. Sites include administration buildings, hospitals, universities, schools, airports, correctional facilities, and public housing.

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