March 1, 2023
A great place to live. Technologies from Siemens help San Bernardino serve its residents more efficiently and sustainably.
The county covers more than 20,000 square miles and comprises 24 cities encompassing more than 2 million residents. In fact, San Bernardino is the largest county in the United States. For the county’s facilities management staff, responding to a service call for one of the county’s many buildings meant spending several hours on the road and using many gallons of fuel. By taking a proactive approach with Siemens, the county has become more sustainable and energy efficient.
Managing a portfolio of buildings across this large and vast county presented some unique challenges to San Bernardino employees.
A mechanical failure in one building could mean a 90-minute one-way drive to the site to simply diagnose the issue. As a result of slow response times, the county’s budget and operations suffered. The time needed to drive from site to site meant more overtime hours and greater fuel costs. More time behind the wheel also meant less time for field technicians to complete the preventive maintenance that keeps buildings in the most efficient condition. In addition, county employees at a building with a malfunctioning HVAC system had to work in uncomfortable conditions longer, leading to reduced productivity. Similarly, equipment operating inefficiently at a remote location took longer to fix, negatively impacting the county’s overall energy efficiency.
The County of San Bernardino’s Facilities Management and Project Management Divisions wanted to work more efficiently. They envisioned a distributed control system that could tie together disparate systems on a single network, such as building automation, fire and life safety, lighting, power and water. “In the end, we wanted to make sure we were providing a greater return on the dollar for taxpayers,” notes Sutcliffe, Chief of the Information Services Dept. Division (ISD) for the County of San Bernardino. “We wanted to provide greater value with our energy, payroll and travel expenditures.”
The County of San Bernardino turned to Siemens Building Technologies to achieve its goals for greater efficiency and productivity. To plan the distributed control system, Siemens engineers worked closely with the county’s Facilities Management and ISD teams.
Two components drove planning. First, outdated Siemens controls in county buildings were upgraded to the latest technology and equipped with the open, industry-standard BACnet communication protocol. Second, the Siemens building automation system was connected to the county’s existing wide area network, which kept overall costs to a minimum.
Standardized controls simplified the user experience for field staff and enabled BACnet integration of building automation, lighting, power and water treatment equipment systems from different manufacturers. The web-based capability of Siemens’ building automation system offered secure, off-site access, and the county’s staff could even address issues remotely.
In addition, county facility staff have been provided with Siemens Facility Prime, which operates on an iPad. Staff can use the solution for remote diagnostics and to make corrections, as well as to check the status of physical equipment. In the past, performing these tasks was often a two-person job.
Now, the County of San Bernardino has turned its field operations into a responsive, proactive and efficient workforce, and has generated significant savings for taxpayers.
In the first two years alone, total savings of $222,120 were recorded and customer service was dramatically improved. With employees driving less, the county has minimized its impact on the environment. Over two years, field technicians traveled 26,400 fewer miles, resulting in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
San Bernardino is now able to better manage its energy portfolio and capitalize on demand-response programs and other efficiency incentives from its utility provider. A National Association of Counties (NACo) achievement award bestowed upon San Bernardino is testimony to this successful partnership with Siemens.