Tech College Opts for High-Tech Controls

The College of Technology at Montana State University-Billings offers degrees and programs that train students to excel in a technologically advancing business world.In keeping with the spirit of the college's mission—and as a way to more efficiently control energy costs—school administrators decided to fully automate the campus' building-control systems.

02/01/2002


The College of Technology at Montana State University-Billings offers degrees and programs that train students to excel in a technologically advancing business world.

In keeping with the spirit of the college's mission—and as a way to more efficiently control energy costs—school administrators decided to fully automate the campus' building-control systems.

One major challenge, according to Ray Carl, the school's maintenance supervisor, was finding an effective automated controls system that would allow him to control all of his facilities' controls devices via the Internet.

"The roof-top HVAC units at the school were more than 20 years old and in dire need of replacement. Also, the college wanted to replace all of the controls in the facility with open technology LonWorks controls in order to better manage energy costs. As is the case with state contracts, I had to take into consideration costs as well as quality," Carl says.

The new system allows access and control, from any standard Web browser, of LonWorks building controls, as well as the new HVAC system on the roof, which uses BACnet. Originally, the intent was to integrate all of the LonWorks devices and allow the maintenance staff to access and control those devices at anytime, from anywhere. But system integrators installed a building controls system that was able to integrate these two protocols.

The feature that impresses Carl the most is the alarm notification capability. When there was a severe problem with the school's HVAC system one weekend, during sub-zero degree weather, Carl received an alarm from the system at home.

"I have the system set up where I receive an e-mail, a fax and a beeper alert when there is a problem. I can use my password, and then access and control the system from any standard web browser." says Carl. "Without this system, I wouldn't have known there was a problem until Monday morning."

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