By Jim Coogan
The big goal for sustainable labs is to consume only as much energy as the lab mission requires. This depends on user behavior and the building response to that behavior. The role of users in energy consumption is gaining recognition. New building automation system (BAS)
concepts and user interfaces (UIs) are designed to assist and encourage
actions that makes the building work effectively and efficiently. Lab workers, building operators and safety officers connect at different levels of the
system through interfaces designed for their needs (Figure 1).
Lab workers connect to the building systems through BAS interface devices. An integrated room automation interface combines light
switches with temperature adjustment functions. When the user’s overall settings consume more power than usual, the system informs the
user through a “Green Leaf” energy-use indicator. If the leaf turns red, a
touch of the button restores energy-efficient settings and turns the indicator green again. This simple UI concept engages users in conservation,
without expecting them to know a lot about energy use. Two principles
drive this UI concept:
• Deliver a simple message informing the user of their energy impact.
• Offer a simple action for the user who chooses efficiency.
This concept for communication and action also applies to the fume
hood. The energy impact of an open fume hood is enormous. When the
“Green Leaf” turns red, the operator’s panel (Figure 2) reminds users to
close the hood, employing a combination of audible, graphic and text
messages. This consistent operating concept for the integrated room
automation system helps lab workers use the facility efficiently.
There are passive interfaces as well. Room ventilation rates increase
when workers are present, and set back when sensors indicate less
demand. This response is based on air contamination sensors, for
demand-controlled ventilation, occupancy detectors or both. The building responds to the workers, matching measured airflow to dynamic ventilation demand, and matching energy consumption to the current needs.
The room automation system connects to the building automation
hierarchy using industry-standard BACnet communication protocols.
Building operators at the BAS workstation monitor alarms, schedule
operation and routinely check on systems. When needed, they analyze
Applying BAS to help users
Figure 1: Users and their interfaces to the lab building systems
makes a difference
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