New technology in the HVAC industry stretches past equipment breakthroughs and component enhancements. Ancillary software and communication elements are often keys to making advanced heating and cooling solutions run correctly. With the increasing desire to be LEED compliant, companies are more readily demanding that building automated systems (BAS) are installed in their new and retrofit construction projects. To comply with this growing trend, contractors have implemented new software and tools that take their specs and blueprints to an arguably more intelligent and interactive level for the contractor, the customer, and the consumer.

Advancing Graphic Displays

One of the latest improvements in BAS software is the availability of new three dimensional (3-D) component graphics from QA Graphics® in Ankeny, Iowa. This company provides graphic outsourcing solutions for the building automation industry, and has released a new 3-D Equipment Library for the building controls industry. The library offers high-end 3-D graphics that can be used to develop system graphics that more accurately represent the mechanical equipment in place at a facility. QA Graphics provides extensive design solutions for a number of control system and equipment manufacturers, and with this experience has developed the library. It provides realistic representations of equipment from product lines including York, Carrier, Trane, McQuay, Liebert, Ingersoll Rand, Baltimore Aircoil Co., Buderus, Cleaver Brooks, Murray, and AAON.

Users can maintain their existing BAS software, and incorporate images from the 3-D Equipment Library to create system graphics that provide better visualization and more accurately represent the mechanical equipment being monitored. To ensure that the graphics provide an accurate representation, the equipment has been thoroughly researched by the company’s trained mechanical engineers. Currently, the library offers images for more than 40 pieces of equipment including air compressors, boilers, cooling towers, air handling units, rooftop units, generators, pumps, electrical, and other miscellaneous components. The library will continue to be expanded with new graphics to be added, including cooling towers, RTUs, chillers, and others.

The graphics in this library provide detailed cutaways of the mechanical equipment and its animations move beyond the on-off function. For example, chiller animations show the on-off function, as well as the compressor, evaporator, and condenser animations. Rooftop unit images include animations for the fans, heating and cooling coils, dampers, blowers, heat wheels, and compressors. The graphics can be purchased individually for a one-time fee. Each image will be custom watermarked to identify the user and is provided for unlimited use.

In addition to the 3-D Equipment Library, QA Graphics offers the BAS Symbol Library, which provides a comprehensive set of graphics and animations needed to construct more realistic HVAC graphics and BAS graphics. The company also provides a great deal of graphic outsourcing for the building automation industry, and is experienced with most systems including Alerton, Andover, Computrols, Johnson Controls Inc., KMC Controls, Reliable Controls, Siemens Building Technologies, Trane, and Tridium AX and R2.

Educating Consumers

Just as contractors instruct their customers on the importance of building controls and efficiency, it is also important that their customers educate consumers as to what benefits can be reaped from the green technology being installed.

To do this, owners of a green McDonald’s® located in Riverside, Calif., are using an interactive display created by QA Graphics to show customers why the new restaurant is sustainable and energy efficient.

The Riverside McDonald’s is the fourth McDonald’s restaurant in the United States to seek LEED® certification. This restaurant is one of nine owned and operated by Tom and Candace Spiel of McSpi Inc. It’s anticipated that the restaurant will achieve LEED® Gold status within the next year as part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s® (USGBC) LEED for Retail New Construction.

“We were inspired to rebuild our original restaurant according to the USGBC’s LEED-Gold standard to encourage and educate our customers on the importance of environmental sustainability,” said Tom Spiel, McDonald’s owner/operator. “For us, this is a way to give back to our community. We hope that what we learn from this restaurant can be utilized to build more efficient and environmentally friendly restaurants in the future, which will then benefit more communities.”

As part of this certification, the Spiels looked to QA Graphics® for a fun and interactive way for their customers and team members to learn about the sustainable initiatives that make this McDonald’s restaurant green. QA Graphics provided their Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard®, which is anticipated to help attain the Innovation in Design green education credit. The Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard is an interactive application similar to a website, used to display real-time energy efficiency information and educate about sustainable initiatives.

“We were impressed with the solution QA Graphics provided, including the ability to link the display to our solar photovoltaic array and provide real-time data of the energy generated from the solar array,” said Candace.

As customers walk into the lobby of the McDonald’s they see the dashboard displayed on a 42-inch LCD touch screen, which they can interact with to learn more about the sustainable features used in the construction of the restaurant. A virtual tour provides a 3-D view of the outside of the restaurant, and then takes viewers inside, moving through the dining area, restrooms, and back to the outside of the restaurant. During the tour, different icons can be selected to learn about the sustainable features implemented.

For example, visitors can see that there are photovoltaic panels located on the carports outside, and watch a demonstration to understand how the photovoltaic system works. Real-time data is also provided to show how much energy is being output by the system. Other demos explain how Solatubes, solar hot water panels, and porous pavers function at the restaurant. Also shown is education about the LED lighting and signage, recycled glass tile, EcoResin panels, and rapidly renewable bamboo used throughout the dining area, as well as explaining what materials are made from recycled items, like the countertops, floor tiles, and ceiling tiles.

“From small children to senior citizens, this interactive display is used frequently,” said Candace. “Because it is easy to use and navigate, whatever the level of our customers’ computer skills, they are able to use the display to learn more about this McDonald’s and how they can be green in their personal lives.”

When visitors have learned about the different sustainable features, they can test their green knowledge with a quiz. Information for the local community is also provided, including a weather forecast and local maps identifying area schools, bus routes, bike paths, and the Metro Rail. Available to other companies with customizable features, the Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard application for this McDonald’s is just one example of how this dashboard can be applied.

Publication date: 10/10/2011