The Simcoe County District School Board in central Ontario, Canada has 115 school and support buildings spread over almost 2,000 square miles. It sought to incorporate more consistency, efficiency, and energy savings into the system, but its sites use control equipment from different manufacturers, and its maintenance staff has to constantly move from building to building.

The system's management sought a front-end tool that could be centrally located, enabling individual building operators to control their own environments and support via the wide area network to each site. With budgets tightening, energy conservation and system flexibility loomed more important than ever. "We needed to empower building operators to control their environments on location," said Rick Ketteringham, maintenance supervisor of mechanical systems. It was no small task.

Finding the answer

After meeting with a few manufacturers, the school board contacted Mor Control. Mor recommended Honeywell's SymmetrE(tm).

"Simcoe needed a user-friendly, custodian-accessible graphical front-end system that could link to building operations manuals, reside on the school board's wide area network and offer dialup capability," said Scott Ward, Mor Control vice president.

Mor demonstrated SymmetrE to Ketteringham, and he liked what he saw. In fact, the more he learned about the system, the more he was convinced it could meet all of Simcoe's needs. Simcoe reviewed several different control systems vendors with its complex requirements in mind, and it selected the Honeywell system for its flexibility and functionality.

Extra Credit

The project started in September 2002. For the initial phase, Mor introduced several Honeywell products, including SymmetrE releases 110 and 200, Excel 5000(r) Open(tm) System hardware, and Excel 10 and 100 controllers. Keeping in mind the size of the school board, the installation has been designed as a phased-in approach to be executed over the next few years. The challenge is to implement these systems into "live" occupied schools without creating any disruption to the schools' environments. So far, this has been a success.

The system now allows the school board to have all BAS front-end systems look the same. It can interface with or complement other manufacturers' hardware. And for building operators, it's user friendly and easy to navigate.

With the system's flexibility, the building operators have created a customized, completely intuitive system with integrated online help screens, photographs of equipment, operations manuals, and AutoCAD files. All of the information custodians require about their building is a mouse click away - without having to leave the BAS software.

The system allows personnel to create and import graphics in almost any software, as well as use real pictures. "People can relate to an actual photograph," said Ward. "Simcoe can have a graphic that not only looks like the real piece of equipment, but allows you to do almost anything with it."

According to Ketteringham, the new BAS is exceeding expectations all around. "The best thing about SymmetrE is its flexibility. I've challenged it multiple times, and it has always met the challenge." The school board has committed to retrofitting all 115 buildings in phases. ES