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Building Operations

BAS Siemens Training
Read our article on Test-Driving Building Automation Simulators (PDF) to see how Buildings Operations manager Mark White developed two high-tech devices and a curriculum to provide in-house training for his staff while saving the university money and time.

This article is also part of our: Values at Work Series

Building Operations brochureView a brochure (PDF) of Building Operations

Building Operations, a branch of the Facilities Operations and Maintenance Division, consists of three main areas of support to university operations:

  • Facilities Monitoring
  • Building Automation Systems Analysis and Programming
  • Building Optimization Team

Facilities Monitoring

Monitoring Building Automation Systems

BAS analysts monitoringAround-the-clock monitoring of automated building systems helps limit downtime and disruptions.

This team provides around-the-clock monitoring of Building Automation Systems (BAS) and BAS alarms on campus from a centralized Operations Center. The Operations Group controls and monitors the mechanical systems for temperature control and energy management. Managing the environmental conditions in buildings is critical in spaces such as museums, computer rooms, libraries, and laboratories. Managing the operation of buildings helps the university by:

  • Conserving resources
  • Lessening environmental impact
  • Reducing utility costs

Facilities monitoring allows us to respond quickly to building systems not operating properly, and to limit building downtime and disruptions to occupants.

Critical Alarm Response Systems (CARS)

CARS was developed to safeguard the research that supports our university's mission. This high-priority alert system monitors and controls equipment critical to researchers. When a CARS alarm is activated, our staff receives, evaluates, and coordinates a timely response and resolution to the operational issue. Alerting equipment owners during this process ensures proper handling of valuable research to prevent potential loss.

After-Hours Maintenance Call Response and Dispatch

Building Operations also serves as the after-hours call center for all campus maintenance issues. A campus as large and complex as The University of Texas at Austin can face facilities-related issues that must be addressed immediately. The operator on duty at the center dispatches trade-specialized first responders who are on call to address the situation, helping avoid extensive property damage and prevent building downtime.

Building Automation Systems Analysis and Programming

BAS AnalystBAS analysts provide trouble-shooting and diagnostics to improve building operation performance and reduce energy consumption

The BAS Analysis and Programming team:

  • Performs high-level troubleshooting and diagnostics on building automation systems (BAS) to ensure proper operation of facilities' systems
  • Creates or edits new automation programs to improve building operation performance reduce energy consumption
  • Provides network support for BAS to ensure reliable connectivity to building systems

Building Optimization Team (BOT)

BOT Team
(Left): Technician uses balometer to measure register air flow at the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Building. (Center): Technician uses infrared camera to image steam coil on air handler unit at Robert A. Welch Hall (WEL). (Right): Technician uses ultrasonic meter to test steam trap operations at Robert A. Welch Hall (WEL).

The Building Optimization Team (BOT) implements a technical process that improves how existing building equipment and systems function together (also known as “retro-commissioning”), which includes:

  • Performing an in-depth assessment of building systems to identify deficiencies that negatively impact building efficiency
  • Working with Zone Maintenance to make identified repairs and refer repairs to the Replacement & Renewal Program
  • Working with energy engineering and BAS analysts to make programming and parameter changes to increase building efficiency

The Building Optimization Team (BOT), largely composed of senior-level technicians, works in conjunction with the Facilities Maintenance Engineering and Technical Support experts and Energy Stewards to restore buildings' heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to operate in accordance with their original design.

The BOT selects buildings in phases to undergo an energy audit and performance review. The team also makes low- or no-cost changes to the systems to improve energy efficiency and building performance.

bot energy team 1Measuring chilled water differential pressure with a manometer at Robert A. Welch Hall

bot energy team 2Testing a steam trap using an ultrasonic meter at Robert A. Welch Hall

bot energy team 3Configuring a newly installed variable frequency drive (VFD) at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC)

bot energy team 4Measuring air temperature in duct at Robert A. Welch Hall

Latest Technology

Building optimization technicians use the latest technology to measure such media as air flow velocity, chilled water, steam, and hot water flow rates at various points in the building HVAC system. They use this information to determine whether HVAC systems are operating efficiently.

Tech Team 1Technician uses manometer to measure air flow velocity in an air handler duct

Tech Team 2Technician uses multimeter to measure voltage signal on building automation control panel at the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Building.

Impact on Building Occupants

The BOT performs most work during regular business hours to avoid disrupting building occupants and activities. The team coordinates work with individual building managers through the Energy Resource Conservation branch of Facilities Maintenance.

Measurable Improvements

The BOT documents all measurements and changes to the systems for use by the Facilities Maintenance Engineering and Technical Support group to estimate the total energy savings achieved by the optimization effort.

For more information on the building optimization program contact Mark White, the manager of Building Operations, by email or call 512-232-1953.

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