The Buffalo Bills spent the majority of the Nineties dominating the National Football League, making four trips to the Super Bowl. Rarely were those home games played in ideal weather conditions, especially in the challenging climate of western New York.

The outdoor temperature at the 52,000-seat Wilson Stadium can range from as cold as 10°F to as warm as 89°, with a stiff lake-effect breeze. Regardless of the temperature, Wilson Stadium can handle these varying conditions. Novar Controls has been the stadium’s building automation system for seven years, controlling its lighting, heating, and cooling as well as 8,000 heated seats. Novar also partially controls the Bills’ $63 million field house that is adjacent to the stadium and used as a practice field.

Wilson Stadium’s control system consists of several Novar products, five EP/2s, 55 IOM/2s, 76 HPCs, miscellaneous ETMs, and one product known as Savvy that links it all. The Buffalo Bills have completed four expansions to the stadium since 1993 — two sideline clubs, four restroom towers, a training center, and most recently, 134 heat pumps for 76 new luxury suites in the second floor Endzone Club. However, thanks to Novar, the newest addition probably won’t be the last.

Built-in Futurability

Prior to Novar Controls, Wilson Stadium was controlled by equipment from another major controls manufacturer and consisted of 80 control points and a mini-computer with a built-in monitor. According to George Koch, director of operations at Wilson Stadium, the unit wasn’t congruent with the future plans of the stadium, so in 1989, Wilson Stadium sought a new controls system partner that could provide a single control point.

After comparing systems, Wilson Stadium’s local distributor, Energy Cost Controls, recommended Novar Controls. “For the size of the system we needed and the futurability we required, Novar was the best logistic and economic option,” says Koch.

According to Koch, the decision to choose Novar was advantageous when it came time to start expanding. An example of that expansion was in 1999, when Koch consulted Novar before deciding on a controller for a new series of heat pumps that were going to be installed at the stadium.

“Novar suggested its HPC Plus, a new controller that was designed specifically for the heat pumps we were installing,” says Koch.

HPC Plus, a Logic One® module, provides control of compressor stages, fans, reversing valves, dampers, and auxiliary heat outputs for controlling the heat pumps. It is designed to effectively control water and air-source heat pumps of various configurations. HPC Plus also incorporates a general fault input for programmable alarming, shutdown and restart capabilities.

By installing HPC Plus, Koch and the Bills didn’t have to invest in a larger controller. The HPC Plus was designed as a unitary controller meaning its modular architecture allows Novar to install a controller on each piece of equipment, or in this case, each heat pump. The advantage to this type of controller is when Koch wants to expand the amount of heat pumps, he can add a HPC Plus instead of reconfiguring the entire system.

“It was important for us to keep economics in mind,” says Koch. “We didn’t want to expand in five years and have to replace all of the equipment.”

According to Brian Ericksen, account manager at Novar Controls, Novar has always designed its systems with expansion in mind.

“We’ve incorporated forward/backward compatibility, which is key in enabling our customers to look to the future,” says Ericksen. “With forward/backward compatibility, our customers can add to their system and not worry about replacing it in six years or replacing the system they installed six years ago.”

The Men Behind the Curtain

Manpower is also essential to the successful running of HPC Plus. The stadium manager controls the system from a booth atop the stadium. Energy Cost Controls, the stadium’s electricians for the past 17 years, can also control the system off-site.

“Novar’s building automation system has enabled us to better manage our manpower allocation and equipment maintenance,” says Koch. “In the past our ‘system’ consisted of five or six guys running around and flipping switches. Now, we’ve doubled the size we’re controlling with the same amount of people. They can attend to other hands-on tasks such as snow removal, greasing, oiling, and changing filters on systems.”

Koch claims that Wilson Stadium has grown because of Novar Controls. “Novar has provided us with the chance to expand without placing financial restrictions on future projects. By having this opportunity, we have become one of the best facilities in the league.”