News & Insights

How iPerform Can Radically Improve Your Building’s Performance

How iPerform Can Radically Improve Your Building’s Performance

Insights & Perspectives
AI generated image of building performance monitoring with three large towers

By Rachel Lieberman

Buildings play a significant role in consuming energy and contributing to the world’s overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the World Green Building Council (WGBC), buildings account for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions, with 28% coming from operations — such as the energy needed to heat, cool, and power the buildings — and the remaining 11% from construction and materials.

In the USA, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers have found that buildings take up 75% of the country’s electricity use. Therefore, not only is it vital to design and construct buildings to perform optimally, but monitoring how they actually perform when inhabited is just as important.

In general, buildings are wasteful. In a typical structure, up to 50% of the energy used in a building drains away due to inefficient power, lighting, and HVAC infrastructure. According to a report by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, almost a third of the energy used in a building is wasted due to operational faults and errors in the building automation system (BAS) once it is occupied.

Quality versus Time

The design and construction industries are facing unprecedented pressure to produce more efficient and technologically advanced, yet cheaper, buildings — faster. Inevitably, this leads to a drop in the quality of the final product. As a result, developers are handing over buildings with numerous design, implementation, and operational issues, which results in the owners of these new buildings not having their expectations met.

Due to the complexity inherent in these systems in these new buildings and their design, most of the problems are HVAC-related, and those HVAC systems eat up more than two-thirds of the building’s energy.

These challenges require a fresh approach to the commissioning process: step forward, iPerform. Our new service offering provides a strategic automated approach to building commissioning and operations as well as a data-driven approach to optimizing energy efficiency, minimizing GHG emissions, reducing operating costs, and maximizing occupant comfort.

The iPerform Difference

iPerform, developed alongside our technology partner CopperTree Analytics, is an innovative service offering that streamlines and enhances the commissioning process and building operations. It provides building owners, operators, and commissioning agents with a powerful tool to test, monitor, and optimize building performance continuously. It takes finetuning to the next level by using real-time building performance data to analyze, and continuously improve building operations.

iPerform integrates into a building’s systems to automatically identify operational issues and faults across a wide range of data. This process is also known as monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx). The fault detection and diagnosis processes are fully automated with no human contact, keeping the information accurate and consistent over time.

Unlike the regular commissioning process, iPerform’s approach revolutionizes standard commissioning. Traditionally, commissioning involves a limited audit of functional tests performed by subcontractors on a select few systems. In contrast, iPerform ensures comprehensive testing and verification, covering 100% of HVAC assets. This rigorous process begins prior to the building’s substantial completion and occupancy, and extends beyond, providing continuous oversight throughout the warranty period and well into the building’s operational lifecycle.

Proactive commissioning prevents problems before they arise. A building that is not commissioned can suffer an extra 8 to 20% in operating costs over its life cycle. For example, according to EnergyStar and the EPA, building owners can expect a 5.4% increase in cost for each 1°C increase in temperature. Other common faults that can affect building performance that iPerform can detect are:

  • Sensor errors/faults

  • Energy consumption

  • Economizers and ventilation

  • Control-related pressurization issues

  • Commercial refrigeration issues

  • Space cooling/heating

  • Heating system (boiler, heat exchanger, furnace, etc.)

  • Cooling system (chillers, towers, etc.)

  • Equipment cycling

  • Pump and fan systems

  • Scheduling (too little, too long, wrong time, etc.)

  • Simultaneous heating and cooling

  • Lighting or other end uses

  • Insufficient sequences of operation

  • Manual overrides

Five Key Benefits

  1. Real-time monitoring and analytics: iPerform offers real-time monitoring and analytics capabilities that allow building managers to track energy consumption, indoor air quality, lighting levels, and other critical parameters. By collecting and analyzing this data, issues can be identified quickly, enabling prompt action to optimize performance, reduce waste, and lower energy costs.

  2. Fault detection and diagnostics: iPerform’s advanced algorithms automatically detect system faults, abnormal energy usage, and deviations from expected patterns. This enables proactive maintenance, improves system reliability, avoids costly downtime, and saves up to 60% on HVAC technician call-out costs. By catching issues early, iPerform helps prevent unnecessary repairs and extends the lifespan of equipment, ultimately reducing environmental impact.

  3. Energy modeling and optimization: By using energy-modeling techniques to simulate different scenarios and evaluate the impact of potential energy-saving measures, building owners can make informed decisions to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. This can be up to USD$0.34 per square foot of median energy savings for the whole building after two years of installation.

  4. Automated reporting and compliance: iPerform automates comprehensive reports that summarize building performance and compliance with sustainability standards. These reports facilitate communication with stakeholders, regulators, and certification authorities.

  5. Automated functional testing: Kaizen Automated Commissioning (ACx) systematically verifies field devices monitored and controlled by a building’s automation systems. This is the next natural step after MBCx, further automating processes such as field device verification and sequence-of-operations validation is a key element in decarbonizing the built environment. Kaizen ACx provides increased automation with proactive testing and reporting and uses its powerful analytics engine to run commissioning-specific algorithms to identify issues otherwise hidden in traditional data analysis.

iPerform Case Study

Our team worked with an energy efficiency partner to help analyze a government building in Melbourne, Australia, using iPerform for a year. At the time, the building had already been optimized for energy efficiency over several years and so had little low-hanging fruit that could further optimize its energy consumption. However, our client faced ongoing pressure to achieve high-efficiency scores to keep its strong NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) program rating.

After just one month of using iPerform, our team could identify six issues that were wasting energy in the building. For example, the building’s air handling units had an economizer sequence, which would open the outdoor air dampers to 100% when the outside air temperature was less than the return air temperature from within the building.

Our recommendation was for a new economizer sequence that would take into account the difference in enthalpy and recommend that the outside air dampers only be opened to a minimum position for ventilation when the conditions showed the enthalpy difference was greater than a given threshold.

This solution resulted in many benefits to the building, including:

  • 20% reduction in energy consumption

  • 9,596 kWh of monthly energy savings

  • 123 metric tons of avoided yearly CO2e emissions

Future Focused

Building performance and sustainability are paramount in today's world, necessitating a robust commissioning process. By implementing iPerform, building owners and operators can effectively monitor, analyze, and optimize the performance of their buildings, resulting in improved energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions and environmental impact, and enhanced occupant comfort.

Rachel Lieberman is Vice President, Project Services in our Canada team. If you would like to learn more about iPerform, contact Rachel via email or connect with her on LinkedIn.  


Related News