PITA Fiscal Year 2013 Projects

Bridging facilities operations with maintenance to improve understanding of building system behaviors

Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Semiha Ergan, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Co-PI: Burcu Akinci, Civil and Environmental Engineering
PA Industry: Facilities Survey Inc

Poorly maintained and improperly controlled equipment results in 15-30% of energy waste in buildings and buildings consume by itself 41% of total energy use in the US (DOE, 2008, EIA 2008). In order to understand how building systems behave, it is important to understand what building automation systems (BAS) are reporting as well as what maintenance activities have been performed on these systems. Within the current practice, the interdependencies between the operation and maintenance sides are not clearly known; causes of an action, the specific action taken, and its consequences are only evaluated from a single perspective (either operation or maintenance) and do not necessarily incorporate a multi-dimensional systems thinking perspective. Without such systems level approach that focuses on the identifying and reasoning about interdependencies between building automation systems and building maintenance systems, it is impossible to truly understand and assess how a building system is performing. Hence, there is a need to understand the interdependencies between operation and maintenance activities in facilities and have an integrated assessment of causes, actions and consequences to improve the efficiency of building systems and eliminate redundancies in handling problems.

Various types of BASs are used for buildings and work orders are generated for system related problems that can be sensed by humans. Various examples of shadowing work with FMS people showed that the maintenance is performed to solve the urgent needs by often times compromising the system level performances. By learning from experiences and history of maintenance work orders, one can possibly improve strategies on what else needs to be handled by BAS, what sensors are critical to maintain for understanding system performance better, and suggest critical areas to be prioritized for re-commissioning.

The proposed approach targets on understanding the behaviors of building systems through integrated analysis of the data generated from operations and maintenance perspectives temporally and in relation to their spatial setting. This will help in identifying possible opportunities for improvements in operations and maintenance decisions by providing a more systems-level perspective and its behavior over time.

Major contribution of this research will be a framework to enable integrated analysis of BAS and WO data temporally so that better insights about real behaviors of building systems over time in relation to their spatial setting can be achieved from the different data sources. With implementation of this framework, it is expected that fewer redundant maintenance problems and waste due to such redundant work will be experienced. In addition to this, it is expected that waste due to unidentified problems in building systems will be eliminated.