Category: Energy Efficiency

HVAC: Opening Our Eyes in Mission Critical Environments

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Imagine walking into a hospital and being asked the question: “What do you observe around you?” It’s a noticeably pristine environment filled with people hurrying around the building. There is the constant sound of beepers, ringing phones, and distant conversations of medical terminology. The air is open and sterile, carrying a sanitary scent. Despite these automatic observations, one of the most essential components to keeping this sterile, clean and sanitary environment is not so obvious. HVAC systems are an absolutely critical part to keeping our health care buildings successful and hygienic. These cooling components help to control the air temperature, air pressure, and humidification that is necessary to overall success.

The tricky part of this mission critical scenario is energy efficiency. How do systems have the possibility of saving any energy when a constant, meticulous setting is required 24/7? The systems do have to be constantly working in order to maintain the desired temperature and settings, but reducing the amount of unnecessarily burned resources is a solution. In order to successfully monitor energy and air quality, each building needs to be evaluated to improve system efficiency. Optimization in these health care systems will not only help to improve redundancy and ensure reliability, but help to increase financial savings on wasted resources as well.

Meeting the demand of energy efficiency and reliability in a delicate mission critical scenario is challenging but attainable. tekWorx will evaluate your plant and establish a system energy assessment to create a unique, customized energy solution. Even after this adaptive control solution is in position, tekWorx engineering experts are always available, keeping a close watch on your installation and continuously monitoring to ensure system efficiency.  This is one way we can continue to help the health care system successfully grow in a safe, clean, and environmentally friendly way.

Check out our results page to see how tekWorx has worked to increase annual plant savings, helping an impressive list of companies become truly energy efficient.

Sustainability: A Treasure Hunt for a Better Energy Solution

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When we hear the term “sustainability,” we automatically think of the trends that have been surfacing in our world over the past couple of years. Questions like “How can we make our world greener?” or “How can we save energy and resources?” seem to appear everywhere. Although awareness has been raised, the basic fixes like recycling and turning off lights are simply not enough to solve the problem. The real solutions for going green and industrial energy usage dilemmas can deceive us by appearing more complicated than they really are. Treasure hunts are one solution to these problems. As a strategy that helps to bring several skills into play, treasure hunts involve a team of employees working together to evaluate and assess the energy consumption in a facility. These different perspectives, knowledge, and expertise join together to create a customized energy efficiency solution.

An inevitable find in these commercial and industrial treasure hunts is the hidden cost of cooling. By recovering this wasted energy, companies not only become more energy conscious but also end up saving money (treasure) while going green—an ideal solution. Sustainability, energy efficiency, and treasure hunts go hand-in-hand and when done correctly provide major kWh savings, sparing the pain of expensive energy bills.

tekWorx reduces the energy usage for customers by optimizing chilled water plant production. tekWorx CEO® system not only helps the environment by controlling the amount of resources used, it also prevents unnecessary spending through its customized adaptive control algorithms. Check out our chiller plant evaluation forms to see how much energy your plant can save with a customized control system from our Approachable Expertise® team. We’re here to make our world (and your wallets) a little greener!

Optimizing Merck’s Treasure Hunt

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Merck was desperate to improve the energy efficiency of their crucial S-6 chiller plant. The central plant was riddled with energy problems due to a wide range in the size and manufacturer of the chillers, convoluted piping and multiple control system with poor communication. Vast amounts of kilowatt hours and operator hours were wasted as plant operators manually adjusted equipment to meet water temperature setpoints without any trending to track demand or indicate problem areas. This was not a simple fix easily resolved by a treasure hunt. Merck knew where the inefficiencies were hidden; they just needed a partner that could simultaneously deal with mechanical and hydronic issues, and implement a truly optimized control system. They called tekWorx.

tekWorx converted Merck’s system to their patented Integrated Primary/Secondary® (IPS) system from a traditional Primary/Secondary design to remove its inherent inefficiencies. Additionally, they implemented a PLC-based adaptive control system to provide control sequences for energy optimization to collect data that would enhance maintenance capabilities and performance monitoring. After the installation, plant operators were no longer burdened with manual tweaks as they took advantage of remote energy monitoring with real time data which enhanced HVAC troubleshooting. While an energy analysis similar to a treasure hunt helped to identify the underlying issues within the plant, a more in-depth investigation was required for this effective energy optimization.

To find out how tekWorx has improved similar central plant conditions, check out our Results page.

Taking the Treasure Hunt One Step Further

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Treasure hunts are an efficient way for companies to quickly recapture lost energy costs using simple fixes. EnergyStar’s best practices include starting with lighting replacements and renegotiating of utility contracts to see basic energy reductions in short time frames. These hunts constitute a major step in the right direction for buildings looking to reduce energy consumption and energy bills. However, if treasure hunts handle the low hanging fruit, reaching the fruit located in the upper branches of the energy efficiency tree becomes a lot more complex than replacing the lights. Short term efficiency can positively bolster lean operating processes but long term goals can’t be achieved without more sophisticated methods for optimizing chilled water plants. Even with the popularity and usefulness of energy treasure hunts, Approachable Expertise® still remains critical.

Much like the lean manufacturing processes on which these treasure hunts are modeled, the key for improvement is both in pinpointing areas in need of energy optimization and then in applying best practices to improve upon these inefficiencies. tekWorx uses decades of hydronic system expertise to optimize all of the central plant equipment associated with producing cooling. Using industrial PLC platforms, adaptive control algorithms work to reduce chiller lift and ensure the system is meeting demand in the most energy efficient way. Real time data is continuously monitored and plant kW/ton is significantly reduced. Automation and control techniques such as these allow companies to reach the upper branches of the energy efficiency tree and to stay and enjoy their tremendous energy savings.

To find out how tekWorx can increase your view on energy efficiency, please fill out our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.

tekWorx Optimization is Making Headlines!

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tekWorx was recently consulted for their Approachable Expertise® in chiller plant optimization strategies for ACHR News. In the interview, tekWorx GM Mike Flaherty outlines tekWorx best practices for simultaneously increasing energy efficiency and reclaiming cooling capacity in central plants. With this unique approach, all of the equipment used for cooling production is optimized, especially chillers which are often overlooked by contractors. According to tekWorx, ensuring that all of the cooling equipment (chillers, valves, cooling towers, etc.) is involved in the reduction strategy is key to decreasing energy costs in the long term.

tekWorx focuses its automation and control strategies specifically on these energy intensive components. Flaherty summarizes three phases used in every tekWorx project: an energy audit to lay out what should be done, what it will cost and what it will save, the installation of an adaptive control system to continually optimize total plant kW per ton and ongoing commissioning services to verify performance.

To read the article, please visit ACHR News.

Energy Efficiency Means Budget Efficiency

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After a rough winter, many buildings have gone way over their annual energy budgets in order to address the unpredictable changes in weather patterns. Now, budgetary issues are at the forefront as summer is quickly approaching and heating up the energy consumption in chilled water plants. So what can facility managers do to decrease energy costs and get their budgets back into the black? Conducting an energy audit can help to evaluate the current utility expense of a central plant as well as to map out potential energy savings strategies. Energy audits help to outline where the inefficiencies are occurring, pinpointing key areas to focus on when preforming a retrofit.

While the retrofit of a chilled water plant may appear to bust the bank, depleting more funds rather than gaining them, the exact opposite is true when initiated correctly. Retrofits designed to provide a short term payback can boost energy savings, decreasing the total dollars spent on energy throughout the years. In addition, governmentally funded rebate programs and utility company incentive programs decrease the amount of time it takes in order to realize annual plant savings.

tekWorx specializes in chiller plant system retrofits. By implementing adaptive control algorithms, energy efficiency is increased in the long term while short payback periods get energy budgets back on track. By looking for the root causes of wasted energy, tekWorx flushes out the issues that are jacking up utility costs while still meeting the load requirements for the building. Through the use of an innovative PLC-based system, demand is continuously monitored and overall plant kW/ton is improved. To find out how tekWorx can help to increase the energy efficiency in your central plant, fill out our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.

Energy Efficiency Important As Ever

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As the United States Senate begins voting next week on a bill focused on energy, House Committees are looking to address issues that will boost energy efficiency in buildings, industries, and federal agencies. Energy efficiency remains a hot bed topic in governmental regulation and with businesses looking to decrease their energy costs. Globally, residential and commercial buildings account for 35 to 40 percent of total energy usage with commercial buildings consuming considerable energy in their HVAC systems, lighting, water heating, and other building automation systems. Worldwide retrofits aimed at decreasing energy consumption are expected to grow as an investment category from $68.2 billion in 2014 to $127.5 billion by 2023.

The primary use of energy within commercial buildings is in cooling production, 29 percent of which is consumed by chillers working to cool water temperatures to acceptable levels. Focusing on reducing the energy usage in equipment components, such as chillers, as well as in the overall systems will not only increase energy efficiency but improve profit margins in the process. tekWorx specializes in reigning in these energy guzzlers to optimize chilled water plants. tekWorx uses various innovative techniques to ensure the best combination of system components are being used to reduce kW per ton. By taking a holistic system approach and optimizing not only the chillers themselves, but the existing equipment within the central plant, overall cooling operations are drastically improved. To find out more on how tekWorx can optimize your chiller systems, check out our Results page.

HVAC Retrofit Best Practices

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Replacing an HVAC System can become an expensive and time-consuming process with heavy potential for disruptions to normal building operations and can consume endless amounts of time if not done correctly. When putting a plant upgrade strategy together around retrofitting chilled water systems, there are 8 factors that executives should consider to ensure optimal results. tekWorx incorporates these best practices into every retrofit situation, fully addressing each factor’s influence on the overall success of the project, including in-kind replacement, new technologies, flexibility, the big picture, and program approval.

In-kind Replacement

It can be tempting to replace an outdated HVAC system with a new model that matches the criteria of the old system- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, this approach may not solve the cooling production issues seen in the plant. During an HVAC system’ s useful life, a building can change dramatically as building space gets used for different functions than originally intended, and the size of the work force and computing equipment occupying the space fluctuates. Any retrofit strategy needs to take into account the current needs of the facility and, from a cost perspective, addressing these needs while utilizing the greatest amount of existing equipment. In doing so, a favorable payback can be achieved.

New Technologies and Flexibility

Technical updates designed to increase energy efficiency are being launched on a daily basis. From high-efficiency chillers to VFDs, everything promises better energy performance. One of the greatest advances in HVAC technologies has been BAS networks that orchestrate all aspects of the chilled water system, limiting unnecessary tweaking and manual labor.

The Big Picture and Program Approval

Companies tend to fall into the human behavior trap wherein they develop tunnel vision, focusing on a specific issue or portion of the chilled water production that seems to be causing the greatest problem. While understandable, other projects and factors affecting the cooling system operation are important to review. A simple way to do this is via an energy audit; energy audits often bring forth the real culprit of inefficiencies and shouldn’t be particularly expensive or time-consuming processes. Done well, these audits touch on the funding components and support retrofit projects holistically rather than patching components together to keep the system running.

tekWorx Approach

tekWorx takes these critical factors and more into consideration for every client. In-kind replacement is a thing of the past since tekWorx focuses on the current needs of the building and the best ways to increase overall energy efficiencies. New technologies such as PLC-based systems work with customized algorithms and VFDs to ensure that the best combination of system components are working to meet load requirements. tekWorx also places heavy emphasis on favorable paybacks (< 2yrs.), utilizing energy incentives through utility companies and government programs.

To find out how much tekWorx can save in your chilled water plant, fill our our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.

Direct Control and Supervisory Control

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“Plant modifications”, “updates” and “conversions” are phrases that often make plant personnel nervous. Which modifications will bring about the greatest and longest lasting results? What do I have to give up to get the latest and greatest? How much is this going to disrupt the plant and my day-to-day? Will this really save energy?

tekWorx gets it. Working with complex systems that demand different automation techniques and design depending on client’s budgets, time frames, and permitted levels of disruption, tekWorx has seen it all and has you covered. Whether the system needs to be converted from manual operation to automated control or sequence updates need to be implemented for energy efficiency gains, tekWorx CEO® uses custom algorithms to improve any chilled plant’s operations.

In a world with emphasis on short paybacks, shrinking budgets, and long term environmental impacts, tekWorx engineers are practical and pragmatic experts and ensuring clients invest only in what they really need- both in engineering and equipment. As such, there are two overarching approaches in which tekWorx retrofits chilled water plants with its PLC based CEO® system.

When working with a plant that has no Building Automation System (BAS) or has a control system that is too outdated to produce the desired efficiency gains, tekWorx CEO® acts as a BAS for the entire chilled water plant; this is known as the Direct Control Engine. The CEO® then orchestrates all cooling related components (pumps, fans, cooling towers, valves, etc.), ensuring that the best combination of system components are being used to minimize kW per ton.

The second optimization approach is the Supervisory Control configuration, common when the existing BAS system (SCI, Siemens, ALC, etc.) is in good shape. In this set up, the CEO® and BAS coordinate over the plant’s BAS network to control and optimize the plant, sending real time data back and forth to ensure components are operating at maximum efficiency.

In either configuration, tekWorx uses a model to begin, but builds on that by using adaptive control algorithms that make adjustments based on actual system conditions to truly optimize chilled water production.

To find out more information on tekWorx CEO® and adaptive control for energy efficiency, fill out our Chiller Plant Evalution Form.

Spring Cleaning: To Toss or Retrofit?

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Spring has finally arrived and facilities spring cleaning is underway! It’s no secret that when buildings need modifications, systems are fixed in the most cost-and time-effective manner. In doing so, the big-picture view of how one renovation affects other existing equipment can often be overlooked. Over time, this can result in a system that is way out of whack- building occupants complain, maintenance staff is overworked, and energy costs escalate.

Chillers, boilers, and air handling systems are some of the most retrofitted pieces of plant machinery. Constant tweaking and recalibrations can lead to larger problems that are addressed with band-aids and therefore easily resurface again in the future. Don’t get us wrong, retrofitting can recover lost capacity in existing chiller plants, revitalize equipment and increase energy efficiency. Identifying issues hidden within the chiller plant such as leaks, faulty wiring, or disabled sensors can be uncovered through basic energy audits, allowing for an optimized chiller plant without massive overhaul of equipment. The key, however, is to make sure all parts of the cooling puzzle are considered, including AHUs, cooling towers, pumps, and the like.

tekWorx specializes in retrofitting of existing facilities with a combination of proven techniques including automation controls and customized control sequences designed to ensure the plant is meeting demand in the most energy efficient way. The tekWorx CEO® ensures that no puzzle pieces are missed in the optimization of a chiller plant.

To find out more information on how tekWorx can retrofit your plant, fill out our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.

Issues with Primary and Secondary Chiller Plants

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An energy efficient design is the last thing on a property owners’ mind during the construction of a chilled water plant. Typically, the chief concern revolves around keeping construction costs to a minimum, ignoring future utility costs and energy efficiency considerations that are critical once a building is fully functioning. Due to this altered focus, chiller systems have historically been built using the classically inefficient “primary/secondary” (P/S). This configuration simply makes sure the building doesn’t run out of cooling on the hottest day of the year and gives no consideration to the expense of this strategy.

With respect to energy, one of the greatest causes for concern with these P/S systems is what is known as blending. Blending occurs as the chilled water combines with warmer water, thereby decreasing the temperature of the return water into the chiller. Because the chillers outputs are spec’d based on a designated temperature set point, energy is being wasted as the system fights to maintain its set point with the influx of warmer water.

To combat this issue, tekWorx has developed an “Integrated Primary/Secondary” retrofit design (IPS®) that brings valuable primary energy benefits to existing primary/secondary systems. Depending upon the specifications of a system, the IPS® substantially improves flow and reduces blending. The IPS® requires minor mechanical/piping changes and control system modifications, keeping the overarching facility infrastructure intact with minimal interruption to the current cooling operations. To see how tekWorx IPS™ can improve your ∆ T, fill out our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.

“Green” Savings for Plants and Pocketbooks

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In terms of energy efficiency, “green” now has a double meaning. Energy projects can improve cash flows by reallocating funds typically used for energy costs elsewhere in the company. Not only does this reduce annual energy expenditures, but the capital expenditures from constantly repairing faulty systems can be avoided when the proper measures are taken. In addition, with a global focus on the need to reduce energy consumption, the federal governments and utility companies now offer tax incentives and energy reduction rebate checks for companies who are effective in reducing commercial energy consumption. A list of commercial energy incentive programs can be found via the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. These incentive are offered in a variety of categories from lighting retrofits to solar panel installation.

One of the greatest consumers of energy in commercial buildings are the large chilled water systems used for cooling; these also represent a tremendous opportunity for utility rebate checks. With many systems manually operated, automating an existing system can have a tremendous impact on the total energy costs. By reducing the electrical energy needed to produce chilled water, companies can take advantage of increased cash flow, rebates, and tax incentives. Determining the root cause of wasted energy goes a long way in helping the company’s bottom line via long term energy reductions. tekWorx specializes in correcting plant energy inefficiencies such as low ∆ T, a condition that wastes pump power and prevents companies from making best use of their plant equipment. tekWorx helps clients save green and get the most out of their chillers by avoiding unnecessary equipment purchases. Clients’ partnership with tekWorx greatly increases their eligibility for utility rebates, and state and federal tax incentives. What company wouldn’t like to see lower operating expenses?

To find out how tekWorx can help qualify your chilled water plant for federal tax and utility incentives, fill out our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.