S’pore’s BCA taps the power of IoT to manage manager chiller plant efficiency

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has partnered with Microsoft to harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics and the cloud computing, to manage chiller plant efficiency and complement its Green Mark rating system for next-generation green buildings.

As the first government agency to implement an integrated IoT solution for chiller plant efficiency, the pilot project centres on the development and use of a new Chiller Efficiency Smart Portal that will cater to 30 commercial and institutional buildings over a two-year period. Powered by Microsoft Azure, the Portal monitors chiller plant performance, and provides actionable insights which enable energy savings.

BCA’s Green Mark scheme is a green building rating tool designed for buildings in the tropics and sub-tropics. Under its 3rd Green Building Masterplan, BCA is focused on addressing the environmental impact caused by buildings and charting green building policies to track and improve the energy efficiency of the built environment in Singapore. With buildings in Singapore consuming about one-third of the nation’s electricity, and chiller plants taking up to half of the total building energy consumption, optimising chiller plant efficiency is therefore key to reducing the impact of buildings on their environment.

“Monitoring by itself does not save energy, it must trigger an action. This Chiller Efficiency Smart Portal will empower facilities managers to target specific areas for improvement and optimise their energy efficiency. The Portal also provides productivity tools to monitor a portfolio of buildings; and analysis tools to compare energy use and performance trends,” said Ang Kian Seng, Group Director, Environmental Sustainability Group, BCA.

Designed to be universal to cater to different chiller plant systems, the system uploads chiller plant performance data such as power, water flow rate, temperature, to the Portal which is hosted on Microsoft Azure. Through machine learning and automatic base-lining, the Portal can help detect chiller plant performance deviations that may potentially result in energy wastages. Upon detection of such irregularities, building managers and owners will be alerted via email or SMS, and be shown reports of the chiller performance summary, to help them take proactive and pre-emptive actions to optimise chiller performance and save energy.

“The Chiller Efficiency Smart Portal provides building owners with a performance summary report of the chiller plant at a glance. It also provides a suite of analysis and graphing tools for building owners to select, analyse and download these data conveniently. I foresee enthusiastic uptake of this Portal and hope that all users will turn the insights it provides into actions to optimise their chiller plant,” said Kenny Low, Senior Facilities Supervisor, United World College of South East Asia.

In addition to delivering actionable insights to facilities managers and building owners in a timely manner, the Portal also provides them with a dashboard of the chiller plant performance data collected from the portfolio of buildings under their management. With easy access to comparisons of chiller plant performance trends across multiple buildings, they can make quick and insight-based decisions on scheduling preventive maintenance, and to negotiate performance-based contracts with their chiller service providers.

The two-year pilot will be implemented in phases until end-2017. When completed, the Portal could potentially be an integral part of Green Mark to encourage buildings to re-certify and improve efficiency continually.