GSA Study Identifies Breakthrough in Existing Building Technologies
Author: David Roberts, Cypress Envirosystems
Approximately 70% of existing buildings in North America still have pneumatic thermostats. The majority of these buildings were built before 1999, and very few of them have been retrofitted due to the high costs, disruption, and long payback periods associated with traditional direct digital control (DDC) solutions.
In 2013, as part of the GSA's Green Proving Ground Project, the Ronald Reagan Building installed Cypress Envirosystems' non-invasive Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat (WPT)
system. This technology required a fraction of the time and cost to install compared to conventional DDC systems, but offered virtually the same functionality for energy and maintenance savings. Over the course of a year and a half, building scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory analyzed data from the WPT installation to determine its impact on building performance and energy use. Their conclusion: the Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat technology should be considered a best practice for any building with conventional pneumatic HVAC controls.
By creating significant energy savings -- ranging more than 20% -- with a low installation cost, the GSA found the WPT technology would pay back as quickly as two years. Another critical factor that the GSA identified was that the WPT system can be installed within minutes without disrupting building occupants. Traditional DDC technologies cost several times more and are invasive, which had made pneumatic-to-digital retrofits cost prohibitive and impractical in many high-end buildings like the Ronald Reagan Building. The WPT system solves these problems so older buildings can be integrated into modern control systems.
The Ronald Reagan Building's GSA building manager, Greg Dix, stressed "our wireless pneumatic thermostats are easy to use and cost-effective, and they provide access to energy-saving control strategies that weren't available through our old pneumatic system." With the WPT system in place, the Ronald Reagan Building is able to implement energy reduction strategies that include night setback, ongoing commissioning, temperature resets, deadband setpoints, precooling, demand response, and many other efficiency measures.
Harry Sim, CEO of Cypress Envirosystems, spoke at this year's Building Energy Summit® with Kevin Kampschroer and Kinga Porst from GSA to discuss the Green Proving Ground WPT study and the GSA's Deep Energy Retrofit strategy. Since the WPT system has such a fast payback, it can enable the adoption of additional Deep Energy Retrofit solutions in ESPCs so total savings are greater and aggregate paybacks remain within required limits. During this government-focused session at the Summit, it was stressed that low-hanging fruit like the WPT can be a key component for the federal government in achieving its aggressive energy reduction goals.
Also at the 2015 Building Energy Summit, Mr. Dix and Mr. Sim gave a tour of the WPT installation at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, part of the Ronald Reagan Building complex. It was noted that since the WPT system has been installed, there have been no complaints from occupants related to comfort. This improvement was a result of the diagnostic data generated by the WPT system. By providing visibility into the condition of the spaces and the performance of the equipment, operators are empowered to address equipment problems before they become noticeable to people in the building.
In addition to the Ronald Reagan Building, the Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat has been installed in many other federal facilities, including buildings at the U.S. Capitol, NASA, USDA, Coast Guard, VA Medical Centers, and the Social Security Administration. The WPT system has also been widely utilized in Class-A office buildings, hotels, K-12 schools, universities, local governments, and hospitals. Since pneumatic systems were the dominant HVAC controls technology throughout the twentieth century, buildings that can take advantage of the WPT are found in every geographic region and market segment.
Cypress Envirosystems specializes in non-invasive, low-cost retrofit solutions for challenging problems in existing commercial buildings and industrial facilities. In addition to the WPT, Cypress has developed a portfolio of non-invasive technologies including the Wireless Steam Trap Monitor, Wireless Gauge Reader, Wireless Freezer Monitor, and other solutions that help optimize operations and energy use. For more information, visit www.CypressEnvirosystems.com
Rate This Article: