Tulane University

Reducing energy waste

Published on 17 Oct 2012

"The IBM solution brings together all the data under a common umbrella and applies intelligence so that we can see anomalies, more quickly identify mechanical malfunctions, and measure the impact of energy saving techniques.”" - Charles P. McMahon, Vice President, Information Technology, and CTO, Technology Services, Tulane University

Customer:
Tulane University

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Automation, Energy Efficiency, Smarter Planet

Smarter Planet:
Smarter Buildings, Smarter Cities

IBM Business Partner:
Johnson Controls

Overview

In the wake of a major natural disaster, Tulane University made a significant commitment to rebuild its campus in more environmentally sustainable ways. Working with IBM and IBM Global Alliance Partner, Johnson Controls, Tulane is implementing sensor technology and advanced analytics to transform one of its most historic campus buildings into a model of sustainability and energy efficiency. This work has helped the University reduce cooling and heating requirements and find inefficiencies in equipment operation that result in energy waste.

Business need:
In the wake of a major natural disaster, Tulane University made a significant commitment to rebuild its campus in more environmentally sustainable ways.

Solution:
Working with IBM and IBM Global Alliance Partner, Johnson Controls, Tulane is deploying sensor technology and advanced analytics to transform a historic building into a smarter building.

Benefits:
Reduces cooling and heating requirements by helping staff find inefficiencies in equipment operation that result in energy waste; Reduces energy by fine-tuning the requirements needed to control humidity and provide a comfortable environment for students and faculty members; Provides insight over time as to which parts are the most reliable and what vendors to choose; Enables evolution from scheduled maintenance to predictive maintenance based on near real-time performance

Case Study

Smart is...Lowering energy expenses and increasing sustainability with intelligent buildings.

In the wake of a major natural disaster, Tulane University made a significant commitment to rebuild its campus in more environmentally sustainable ways. Working with IBM and IBM Global Alliance Partner, Johnson Controls, Tulane is implementing sensor technology and advanced analytics to transform one of its most historic campus buildings into a model of sustainability and energy efficiency. This work has helped the University reduce cooling and heating requirements and find inefficiencies in equipment operation that result in energy waste.

When Sylvester Johnson stepped onto Tulane University’s campus—located in the heart of New Orleans—following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was in shock.

“The campus looked like a war zone,” recalls Johnson, Tulane’s senior associate vice president of Facilities Services. “Two-thirds of campus was underwater and the part that we could get to, the roofs had blown off the buildings and the windows were broken. Our immediate challenge was: How do we get campus back together in less than five months?”

As the University launched its massive rebuilding effort to ready the campus for the spring semester, staff committed to achieving a more sustainable infrastructure. The University estimates that the energy used in its buildings represents two-thirds of its carbon footprint. And as the largest private employer in the City of New Orleans, the University recognizes its influence across the community.

“Tulane University is a remarkable example of an institution that has evolved with a sense of responsibility about the way we can contribute to rebuilding the city and rebuilding our own campus,” says Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA, Dean, Professor of Architecture, Department of Architecture, Tulane University. “Hurricane Katrina had a devastating impact on this entire region and this University was impacted somewhere to the tune of USD700 million in damage. The hurricane allowed us to step back and look at the way in which we’re operating in the sense of sustainability.”

Learning from the buildings themselves

To effectively reduce the energy use of its buildings, staff first had to understand energy usage on a building-by-building basis.

“One of the issues that we face with trying to reduce our energy use is that we don’t know how much energy each building on campus uses,” says Elizabeth Davey, Tulane’s director of Environmental Affairs. “Our buildings are connected to a central plant so we don’t receive a utility bill every month for each building. By using technology to make each building smarter and give us the information we need to knowledgably act, we can better identify which buildings should be renovated, which design strategies are most effective, and what facility problems may increase our energy use. We can also use the data to motivate building occupants to use less electricity.”

Rickie Kramer, Tulane’s facilities manager, adds: “IBM analytics have helped Tulane facilities find inefficiencies in equipment operations, allowing us to save energy. The analytics notify us on an hourly basis when any of our systems are potentially wasting energy due to mechanical or programming issues. I am looking forward to having these analytics rolled out across the rest of our campus.”

__________________________________________________________________________

Smarter Buildings: New insight, analytics drives sustainability and saving

  • Instrumented: Near real-time data and events are collected from sensors on boilers, air ducts, lights, water pipes, chillers and temperature gauges, and from the building management system.
  • Interconnected: Data is analyzed and the results are fed into a dashboard that lets operators drill into the details, such as the building’s microclimates or the operation of a specific boiler.
  • Intelligent: Monitors energy consumption and asset performance, identifies anomalies, and automates alerts to help staff resolve issues before occupants are affected and energy is wasted.

__________________________________________________________________________

Transforming a historic building into a smarter building

The University’s first project with IBM and IBM Global Alliance Partner Johnson Controls was to transform Richardson Memorial Hall, the century old home of Tulane’s School of Architecture into a smarter building. Like many century old buildings, Richardson Memorial Hall’s heating, cooling, wiring and water equipment had been installed 8, 20 and even 40 years ago—when the energy requirements were only a fraction of what they are today.

With the IBM® TRIRIGA® Energy Optimization solution, staff can collect near real-time data and events regarding heating, cooling, lighting and water to understand how energy is being consumed and to see problems and emerging trends before they affect occupants. Information from third-party sensors on boilers, air ducts, lights, water pipes, chillers and external temperature gauges, as well as from the building's management system is integrated and analyzed, and the results are fed into a dashboard that lets operators identify anomalies and operational patterns in the building’s microclimates and the functionality of specific equipment.

The insight has helped the University reduce cooling and heating requirements and find inefficiencies in equipment operation that result in energy waste and create uncomfortable environmental conditions for students and faculty members.

For example, the system alerted maintenance staff that, at times, cooling and heating was occurring simultaneously and, at times, heating was turned off completely, causing humidity levels to increase. By implementing humidity control programming and new analytics, the University solved both issues—which in turn reduced electric consumption and increased occupant comfort.

The insight is also helping the organization evolve from scheduled maintenance to predictive maintenance and determine which parts used in its building systems are the most reliable. For example, with the analytics monitoring cooling valves every hour, when a valve weakens, immediate notifications can be made so maintenance staff can fix the part before a failure occurs.

“Every valve, every thermostat, potentially every light switch is talking to you, and if you listen, you can make intelligent decisions to optimize the comfort of the building and minimize the resource consumption,” explains Charles P. McMahon, vice president, Information Technology and CTO, Technology Services, Tulane University. “The IBM solution brings together all the data under a common umbrella and applies intelligence so that we can see anomalies, more quickly identify mechanical malfunctions, and measure the impact of energy saving techniques.”

And according to McMahon, ultimately, these “smart buildings” will automatically take action so facility staff can focus on strategic building projects.

“It is a very small leap to get us to the point where we have confidence in setting the parameters and letting the software make adjustments,” McMahon adds.

A living laboratory for students

As part of the project, Tulane’s architecture students will get a firsthand opportunity to use the technology to experiment with how air temperature, humidity, water temperature and other parameters affect the quality of comfort in the rooms as they aim to minimize the consumption of natural resources. Along with IBM, they'll work in a cross-discipline team of facilities management staff, IT staff and partners to create best practices that can be applied across campus and nationally.

“Building and information technology tools are essential to the future of our profession,” says Schwartz. “This project is going to be catalytic in the way that our students begin to embrace concepts of sustainability in much more significant ways than we have in the past.”

The inside story: Getting there

Tulane University’s progress illustrates the evolving role of facilities management. “If you look just a few years back, management of energy resources resided almost entirely with the facilities department,” explains McMahon. “What we’re seeing now is a much more robust and complex IT component. And with this, we’re seeing an evolution in which Technology Services is partnering with facility managers. It’s difficult to know whether this is a Facilities Services project that Technology Services is enabling, or a Technology Services project that is used by Facilities Services to better manage the environment.”

And, as both IT and facility staff work together, they must not only understand the integration of these disciplines, but also how to apply an intelligent building approach to both modern and historic buildings.

“An intelligent building approach starts with recognition of the building’s own qualities inherently as a structure,” says Schwartz. “It then moves forward with the integration of digital technology and new building systems that allow the building to operate at a much greater level of efficiency in terms of energy consumption. Richardson Memorial Hall is an example of how we can recognize the value of a historic structure at the very beginning while updating its systems for contemporary practice. And our work has allowed us to test out some methodologies that we believe can be applied to any historic structure on this campus and well beyond.”

Solution components

Software
● IBM® TRIRIGA® Energy Optimization (formerly IBM Intelligent Building Management)

Services
● IBM Global Business Services®—Smart Buildings Solution Implementation

IBM Business Partner
● Johnson Controls

For more information

To learn more about the combined solution for smarter buildings offered by IBM and Johnson Controls, contact your IBM or Johnson Controls representative, or your IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/ibm/servicemanagement/industry/us/en/smarter_buildings.html or www.johnsoncontrols.com

For more information about Tulane University, visit: www.tulane.edu

Components

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
IBM TRIRIGA Energy Optimization

Service:
IBM Global Business Services

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America October 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, TRIRIGA, and Tivoli are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data and client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. TIC14257-USEN-00

Showcase your unique capabilities

Resources