“I don’t need an office full of computers.”

That’s what interoperability means to Bob Deacon at the Standard Federal Bank building in Troy, MI. Deacon is a chief operating engineer with Affiliated Building Services (Romulus, MI), a facility management firm responsible for the 477,000-sq-ft, multitenant building that won first place in the Commercial Building category of the 1992 ASHRAE Award of Engineering Excellence.

Although the previous system, a Trane Tracer 1000 (La Crosse, WI) was very dependable, Deacon says that Y2K concerns and the fact the system wasn’t upgradeable were the main reasons for the retrofit. Although the Tracer 1000 cost $1 million, less than $40,000 was put into it over its 10-year life span. “It was extremely reliable,” Deacon said. This reliability factored into the decision to go with another Trane system.

Control With a Push of a Button

Single-seat operation of hvac, lighting, computer room air conditioning, and fire alarm systems was important to Deacon when updating the Trane building automation system serving the 11-year-old facility. BACnet™, an open protocol standard, provides a means for interconnecting these subsystems. With open systems and BACnet, Deacon says, “Technology has finally caught up with what I wanted to do.” Affiliated Building Services and Motor City Electric (Detroit) installed the system, which, according to Deacon, went off without a hitch, and The WBDC Group (Grand Rapids, MI) acted as design engineer. “The conversion went very smoothly,” he said, even though the technology was quite new.

A Tracer Summit® building automation system interfaces to a Simplex fire and life safety system and a Liebert SiteLink™ computer room system for air conditioning and power management.

Interoperability means simplified operations, enhanced productivity, and less training for Deacon’s operating staff. In his words, “Their job is to run the building. They have one thing on their workstations. It’s all on one system, so they don’t have to learn the Simplex and Liebert interfaces. They know if there’s a problem as soon as the Tracer Summit system is in alarm [mode].”

The building’s hvac system includes Trane CenTraVac® chillers and thermal storage, with multiple options for heating or cooling a particular space. Deacon calls the building “very complicated” because of its many diverse systems. While the systems are interconnected, each vendor is responsible for their gear.

Into the Future

Deacon acknowledges being on the front end of open systems technology. “We may have taken on some initial start-up headaches in being among the first to do this. But in the long run, it is benefiting the building and the operation of the facility.”

Looking ahead, Deacon’s plans include interfacing elevator system monitoring and variable-frequency drives into the Tracer Summit system. He wants access to information available on the drives, without having a totally separate system. For the Standard Federal Bank building and Bob Deacon, interoperability is delivering the operation they need today and the options they will need for tomorrow.

For now, however, his foray into the future of technology has been positive. “The system is working out fantastic, in my humble opinion,” Deacon says.