February 19, 2021
Mid-Atlantic Controls Corporation (MACC) installs, services, and repairs building control systems for a range of applications and clients, including building automation for colleges/universities.
Client: University of Richmond
Application: Building Automation System Upgrade
Challenge: Centralizing multiple systems into a unified control
Solution: Growing a partnership with the on-site team, leveraging industry expertise
- – Successful installation of: Siemens Talon network manager
- – Faster technician response time
- – Future facility readiness
University building management
Academic campuses have unique needs when it comes to building automation systems (BAS). The issues include:
Large number of buildings — Because of the variety of structures around campus, building controls are complex. Lecture halls, residential buildings, libraries, and dining rooms each have their own heating, cooling, and lighting requirements.
Occupancy levels — The number of people in campus buildings fluctuates according to class schedules, mealtimes, study hours, and athletic events. Building automation must adapt to occupancy.
Energy management — A modern building system will cut costs and environmental impact by ensuring empty spaces aren’t being unnecessarily heated or cooled.
University of Richmond
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Student population: >3,000
Campus size: 350 acres
School facilities include:
- – Library
- – Theatre
- – Science center
- – Athletic facilities
- – Student residence buildings
In 2014, the University of Richmond (U of R) realized they needed to enhance their building management to keep up with campus expansions and student needs. They chose to work with MACC, a local building controls contractor with extensive experience.
Part of MACC’s objective was to optimize occupant comfort while at the same time minimizing energy use.
The varying ages of the buildings and the continually changing U of R infrastructure made building management for the campus a daunting task. Facility maintenance staff required the ability to respond quickly to emergencies, maintenance calls, and service requests from across the university’s 350-acre campus.
Besides the challenges of upgrading controls for the campus’ buildings (some of which were over 150 years old), project timing was of utmost importance.
As Julian Morgan, the university’s associate director of energy management, put it, “there is no extension for deadlines—when classes start, classes start. When kids come back, they come back.” The deadline meant MACC had a fixed window of opportunity for completing their building controls tasks.
Rising to U of R’s project challenge, MACC proved their expertise in installing open, centralized building automation systems.
Flexibility and Future Thinking
Adapting to the customer’s needs
To upgrade the University of Richmond’s BAS, MACC worked with the client to nail down the campus’s unique needs. MACC technicians deepened their knowledge of the facilities by working alongside the client.
“Roughly about three guys are here almost every day. And that allows us to know the facility inside and out,” says Marshall Nesgoda, VP of technical services at MACC.
To get the university working off a centralized platform, MACC upgraded the campus building controls from the legacy Staefa system to Siemens Talon. The new system provided access to advanced analytics and unified controls and modernized the entire system to accommodate future expansion.
The benefits of Siemens Talon Network Manager:
- – Modern, open BACnet communication protocol
- – Programmable, customizable components
- – Legacy systems integration options
- – Powerful front-end analytics and graphics
Optimizing system integration
Installing a new system was the perfect opportunity for a thorough assessment of the university’s existing BAS. Nesgoda explains, “As you go to install new controls on old hardware, you’re going to find problems, and that helps overall.”
MACC unearthed problems that were neglected over the years due to oversight. During the upgrade, they addressed the issues so that they were corrected going forward. MACC also integrated the university’s existing infrastructure into the upgrade to maximize the value of the still-working equipment.
Future readiness & serviceability
Preparing for future expansion laid a foundation for a continuing partnership between MACC and the University of Richmond. According to Morgan, “They recognize that we’re a long-term customer. We build things for fifty years, not for ten.”
MACC’s industry experience, combined with forward-thinking decisions, helps the client make the best choices for system longevity. Of MACC, Morgan says, “When they’re on the field putting stuff in, they’ll come back and tell me, we need to make sure this is, you know, serviceable later on.”
Results & Successes
Committed to a long-term partnership
Control installed at the University of Richmond:
- – Siemens Talon Network Manager
Upgrading the university’s BAS not only modernized controls but also gave facility managers insights to make better decisions for managing campus buildings. Talon provides “better trending, better scheduling, better comfort, control, and overall, just a better thumb on the pulse of what’s going on in a building,” says Nesgoda.
With Siemens Talon, U of R now has access to minute-to-minute updates on temperatures and alerts for changing conditions through a modern, seamless BAS front-end.
As a contractor committed to doing things right, MACC doesn’t walk away from their customers.
“They’re looking out for me,” says Morgan. “It’s not like they sell this and then they’re gone. It’s they sell this, and they’re going to keep fixing it. And they’re going to be here for a while, so let’s make sure we do this right.”