The UC Davis main campus houses around 1, 200 buildings of various sizes and usage. Some larger buildings' HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems can be monitored remotely from Facilities Management because they are connected centrally to the same system. However, this leaves out smaller buildings that operate from individual HVAC units, much like the ones you would have in your home.
The smaller buildings make up about 15% of overall campus square footage, which can be difficult to monitor due to lack of visibility on our remote systems.
SWARM, or Small Workplace Automation and Remote Monitoring, aims to increase smaller buildings' visibility and be more involved in ECO's inclusive effort in energy efficiency campus-wide.
What's all the buzz about?
In the summer of 2017, the Energy Conservation Office started looking into a project that would allow HVAC and electricity usage monitoring of smaller campus buildings.
The goals of SWARM:
- Improve the comfort of the people using the building,
- Learn more about the building's use patterns and needs, and
- Trim energy waste when the building's vacant.
How does it work?
SWARM has two technologies for monitoring the HVAC systems of small buildings — Internet-connected thermostats and electricity meters (if they are not already in place).
Newly installed electricity meters are also connected to the Internet to provide live data usage for SWARM buildings.
Benefits of using Internet-connected thermostats
- "Optimum Start" boots up the HVAC system early to get the space to the desired temperature
- Simple thermostat interface
- Visibility to past trends
- Increased flexibility for users due to remote access via phones or computers
- Faster repairs due to remote troubleshooting
Behind the scenes at ECO
With remote access to the Pelican Wireless thermostats, the Energy Conservation Office has more control to scheduling to improve energy efficiency. These thermostats allow ECO to schedule the HVAC system to be off on holidays to include more buildings in our holiday shutdowns and work with occupants to turn buildings off at night.
Active SWARM Pilots
The project began with three buildings. The Barn, which houses the Natural Reserve System and the John Muir Insititute of the Environment, Transportation & Parking Services building, and Robbins Annex. The only energy saving intervention so far has been shutdowns during the holidays. The pilots also allow data collection for trend analysis.