Forest through the trees - and then some

SPG was seeking to integrate innovative and advanced technology in building automation with automated meter reading. Historically, the group has manually read thousands of check meters in order to measure common area, tenant, and heating and cooling plant energy usages. It had inherited legacy systems (many of which needed significant technical updates and had limited support options) as its portfolio expanded. 

Seeing the forest through the trees is an understatement when the Energy Service Group facilitated two large projects at the same time. Simon committed to installing new BAS at most of the active sites as well as installing thousands of common area and tenant meters. SPG needed an intelligent middleware solution to enable automated readings of all metered loads, as well as provide a means of implementing energy efficiency initiatives via the centrally managed BAS.

It needed a technical solution that would allow implementation of centralized operational decisions creating a very high-tech, low-touch enterprise EMS. This new system would provide load shedding and demand response programs for million of sq ft of facilities distributed throughout North America by coupling the automated metering platform and the BAS into a single business tool. Ultimately, this undertaking was envisioned to increase SPG’s control and efficiency through an effective coupling of integrated building systems.

SPG turned to Roth Brothers to install an Andover BAS throughout the portfolio and Facility Solutions Group (FSG) to implement the largest North American deployment of networked sub-meters throughout their properties (over 2,500).

The primary goal was efficiently providing building system and meter data to the corporate enterprise EMS at the SPG corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. Their secondary goal was integrating the check meters into their existing common area EMS, providing the ability to query data to and from the existing EMS (Tour Andover Controls/JCI/etc.) and then actually, providing tenants with energy information on actual usage.

“With ever increasing utility rates, we needed a way to have our metering systems provide real-time data to the properties’ EMS to implement energy efficiency and cost reduction strategies without sacrificing comfort. The Richards-Zeta (RZ) Mediator is being used as a building systems platform to aggregate electric metering (via hard-wired and wireless) information. This information is automatically sent via HTTP (XML format) to our PML/ION Enterprise Energy Management systems in Indianapolis,” said Andy Marsh of SPG.


Looking for the gateway

FSG was looking for a communication “gateway” which would aggregate and bi-directionally move data to/from the check meters (both hard wired and wireless) and the EMS and into its meter data management systems. To facilitate this, FSG installed a RZ Mediator Multi-Protocol Exchange (MPX) platform. The Mediator™ is a middleware solution comprised of both hardware and software. This domain-agnostic integration framework is able to communicate with a number of disparate protocols.  In Simon’s case, the meters communicate via Modbus Protocol and the EMS system communicates via BACnet protocol.

The RZ Mediator collects data from check meters via the hard wired and wireless network topology. The RZ Mediator stores and logs site-specific meter data and sends this information each evening via XML to the PML/ION EMS located on the Simon network. Select points are also integrated back into the EMS to better manage the load profile of common areas and tenant spaces in real-time.

By installing the RZ Mediator, SPG can use their existing Andover EMSs installed on the company Intranet to automate, analyze, and measure energy management practices. Using the RZ Mediator enabled with a BACnet/IP driver, SPG is able to automatically discover new BACnet devices and use the information within the Mediator, negating any requirement to hard-wire pulses from the metering to the EMS. Additionally, the Mediator provides real-time data for use in peak shaving and day ahead/real-time load responses and demand response programs.

With numerous properties already implemented and many more slated in the next year, this project should dramatically enhance Simon’s capabilities to measure and control building operation and energy consumption in real-time. ES