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CSIRO says the big data revolution is here to stay
June 20, 2016 News

There is a plethora of automated fault detection tools in today’s market with new solutions released every few weeks, Dr Joshua Wall, a senior CSIRO researcher told ARBS delegates last month.

He said the high number of tools for HVAC systems has created a lot of overlap. A specialist in the field of intelligent building controls, Wall provided an overview of the market, emerging trends, as well as details of a world first research project underway at CSIRO Energy.

Wall said solutions today range from demand driven to predictive controls and data analytics.

“Fault detection tools fall under the category of data analytics which is changing quickly and moving toward smart analytics,” Wall said.

“We currently control our buildings under a tight band of comfort so there is room for improvement with more user input from tenants.”

Building commissioning (cx), he said, is mostly about ensuring energy system performance. However, from the initial cx design building performance degrades over time which is why a review should be undertaken every two years to keep energy use down.

“The goal should be to get to continuous commissioning because it doesn’t jump keep a lid on energy use it improves indoor air quality, reduces maintenance, extends equipment life and optimises controls,” Wall said.

Referring to a study of 500 buildings in the United States, he said the results showed that cx savings averaged 16 per cent per building.

“There isn’t a lot of local research which is why we launched a study of our own into fault detection tools with the final results due in early 2017.” Wall said its important to understand the underlying techniques used with these tools.

“When assessing a solution ask about the underlying techniques and algorithims,” he said. Wall said the first generation of tools were mostly rules-based.

“A problem with this technique is that it generates a lot of false alarms so the user gets alarm fatigue and stops using it; the real trick is in implementation,” he said.

“The black box technique is more data driven incorporating a predictive baseline to quantify energy savings or rank faults.

“The downside to this technique is that it requires large amounts of historical data.”

The CSIRO has created its own fault detection tools by taking a hybrid approach, developing software that combines both techniques. It has been developed by the same team that invented the underlying BuildingIQ technology.

“It is far more accurate than just using one technique and the proof of concept is undergoing real world trials in a number of different sized building,” Wall said.

For example, it is being trialled at a 20 storey commercial building in Melbourne as well as Newcastle City Council.

Wall said initial results look promising and the plan is to eventually commercialise the solution.

“The big data revolution is here with smart analytics appearing everywhere,” he said.

“Building operators want meaningful insight without information overload.” Wall said there will always be a place in the market for managed services.

“Stand alone tools will be much smarter and more accurate over the next few years but there will always be a place for managed services to filter out the faults that are not important,” he said.

“While there are benefits to managed services, the trade off is that labour is expensive.”

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