When 1718 Argyle Street was built in 1986, it was one of the “smartest” buildings east of Montreal, but in early 2002 the building’s management sought an upgrade and new proximity card readers. The system they selected allowed them to add CCTV as part of a single, integrated building control system.
1718 Argyle Street is an eight-story, 60,000-sq-ft "Class A" office building in the central business district of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Tenants are primarily professional firms and local offices of large corporations. Developed by Sonco Group Inc., a major Nova Scotia real estate firm, the building was designed to serve small-to-medium-size tenants (800 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft), and opened in 1986.

At only 60,000 sq ft, the building is considered a small- to medium-sized office building, but today it is able to offer tenants comfort and security features normally seen in larger Class A properties, while at the same time reducing operating expenses.

Time to Upgrade

When 1718 Argyle Street was built, it had a sophisticated Andover Controls energy management system, but separate card access system by another manufacturer. "At the time," said Debbie McIsaac, vice president of operations for Sonco Group, "it was ahead of its time, one of the ‘smartest' buildings east of Montreal."

The building was running smoothly, but in early 2002, McIsaac began thinking about whether it was time to upgrade the 15-year-old systems. The company that built the access control system had been bought out, and McIsaac was concerned about parts availability. She also believed that proximity card readers now available offered a more user-friendly system than the existing swipe card system.

McIsaac met with Les Beal of Digicon Building Control Systems, who had installed the original HVAC control systems. They discussed an upgrade to the energy management and access control systems, and Beal suggested that they look at the Andover Controls Continuum® system, which would allow them to add closed-circuit TV (CCTV) as part of a single, integrated building control system.

That suggestion responded to another important concern for McIsaac: security. "Since 9/11," she explained, "building managers are asking themselves what they can do to provide tenants with better security and to make tenants feel more comfortable."

In mid-2002, Digicon installed the Andover Controls Continuum system, which includes controls for 12 digital CCTV cameras; 25 proximity access card readers; 70 HVAC control units, including 55 heat pumps; and interior and exterior building lighting.

Benefits of one complete system

Continuum combines security, access control, HVAC, energy management, CCTV, and lighting controls in a single system. McIsaac and her staff of three - two administrative assistants and one maintenance person - are also tenants at 1718 Argyle. "Everything in the building control system is accessed from one workstation, which is tucked in an office services room in our office," said McIsaac. "We can do anything we need to do at that one workstation. We can monitor the CCTV, issue new tenant access cards, find out what the temperature is in an office on the third floor, or make sure the exhaust fans are running."

And, according to McIsaac, ease of use has been a major payoff. The building maintenance person, who is not a computer expert, can easily make setup changes and access all system functions.

"Continuum is also flexible and expandable," said McIsaac. "If we want to add features - for example, the ability to automatically turn on the lights in your office space as you come into the building after hours - we can do it very easily."

The HVAC system is the heart of the building's control system. A sophisticated system aimed at delivering both optimum energy efficiency and tenant comfort, it features 55 Remington-Singer (now Remington-Indusco Inc.) water source heat pumps that were installed when the building was built.

The EMS schedules them to respond to the environment. For example, in the summer, the pumps in the east-facing part of the building come on first in the morning, to keep that part of the building cool as the sun strikes it. Similarly, in the winter the west-side pumps come on first, while the east-facing parts of the building can take advantage of the sun's warmth.

The new system also offers some very attractive tenant features. "The whole reason for having the decentralized HVAC system we have in the first place was to be able to give our tenants something better. With the Continuum system, we can give our tenants the bells and whistles they'd get if they were big tenants in a big, modern office building," explained McIsaac.ES