Building Automation Teaches Efficiency

Building Automation Teaches Efficiency

This piece was originally published in the March 2018 issue of electroindustry.

Charlie Norz, Product Manager, I/O Systems, WAGO Corporation

Photos by Andreas Secci

The Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and NRW, a property management and construction company (BLB NRW), charted a new path in the construction of the University of Applied Sciences building on the Minden Campus of Bielefeld Technical College in Bielefeld, Germany. It integrates cutting-edge energy and automation technology and is a prime example of cross-discipline, integrated construction.

The Minden campus has traditionally focused on engineering, including a master’s program in integral construction. This brings architects, civil engineers, and project managers together to provide students with a foundation in construction planning across the building trades.

BLB NRW designed a four-story meeting center with offices, workspaces, a library, and a cafeteria that also functions as a research and teaching facility. Lighting, energy generation and distribution, air conditioning, and sun protection are automatically controlled and monitored using building automation from WAGO that extends from individual systems to complete room automation. Students can learn about, program, and evaluate energy data directly via a communication interface in the network.

The Minden campus construction is one of two university buildings in the country that fulfills the high demands of energy efficiency class A, meaning no more than 50 kilowatt hours per year, in the form of electricity and heat, can be consumed per square meter.

“We were able to convince the university president that the higher efficiency class would benefit research and teaching,” said Oliver Wetter, dean of the Minden campus. The decisive argument was that the investment more than pays for itself through operating cost savings over the lifetime of the building.

To increase energy savings, the building includes a well-insulated structural shell, recovers waste heat from the servers in the computer lab, and supplements with energy from a geothermal system. Its probes draw warmth from the earth that is transferred to a heat pump, which in turn increases the low temperature of the geothermic warmth to heat the building. Due to the reversible operation of the heat pump, the library, cafeteria, foyer, meeting areas, and workshop are cooled using the underfloor heating system and radiant ceiling panels—and energy extracted here is used to regenerate the ground probe field.

A second heat pump is linked into the combined storage for the server cooling/geothermic system and is also used for the combined heating system. A gas condensing boiler provides hot water and is reserved for peak loads. Cooling peaks are accommodated by two chillers. The entire system technology is designed to minimize primary energy consumption.

BACnet/IP controllers play a central role in plant and room automation. Twenty-one units are networked via an Ethernet system. BACnet, a standardized, open-source data communications protocol, enables data communication between devices from different manufacturers. Room automation includes lighting, sun shades, and room temperature regulation. Carbon dioxide air quality controllers are used in the practical labs and seminar rooms.

The Minden project demonstrates how energy efficiency can be sustainably improved thanks to state of the art technology.

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