As one of the 10 largest health systems in the U.S., Broward Health encompasses more than 30 health care facilities in South Florida. The organization’s flagship, Broward Health Medical Center (BHMC), is a 1.2 million-square-foot, 716-bed facility featuring a 6,000-ton chiller plant with average loading of 3,500 tons.

The organization began implementing building automation technology in its facility in the mid-’90s using well-respected manufacturers and contractors. However, by 2006 the central energy plant had amassed a history of incidents that were difficult to diagnose and correct, so the decision was made to take the facility into full manual control.

Brainstorming for Better Control

When Larry Harrell, facilities services for BHMC, learned about chiller optimization services offered by Entic, he invited them in for a meeting. Entic specializes in HVAC analytics and optimization, providing commercial and industrial facilities with energy savings through its cloud-based technology. The company’s solutions use continuous, real-time analytics to automate precise corrections and achieve higher performance and economy.

“They started asking very probing questions, and it was obvious they knew what they were talking about,” said Harrell, an industry veteran with more than 34 years of HVAC experience.

After establishing some trust, both parties agreed to brainstorm and soon got to work implementing Entic’s HVAC analytics called BITS™ (building intelligence technology solution).

“They spent a lot of time with me. It was more of a partnership approach. They weren’t just trying to sell me something. Then they showed me the HVAC analytics piece and I said, ‘That’s what I’m looking for,’” said Harrell, noting that Entic’s solutions touched HVAC infrastructure on both the chiller plant and the air-handling units.

Investigating Operation

Entic implemented its standard chiller plant optimization methodology, designed to gain the insight necessary to achieve superior energy-consumption performance. The approach is comprised of four broad steps: capture, analyze, act, and learn. And BITS is an integral part of the process.

BITS integrates with any building management system to gather real-time mechanical and environmental data, and uses comprehensive mathematical models to process thousands of data points and operational variables via a secure Internet connection. It uses predictive analytics at the chiller and airside level to calculate annual energy savings, measure achievable peak performance, monitor a plant’s health and efficiency, detect issues, and generate alerts.

Almost immediately the system discovered that the chillers were not achieving the kW per ton for which they were rated — a serious problem that BHMC had not been aware of before and which had probably cost them over $1 million in excess energy use since installation.

“We would not have discovered the problem with the chillers without this new system in place,” said Harrell.

“The types of issues found at Broward Health Medical Center are going to be very typical as Entic adds analytics and gains insight into the way the plants are truly operating,” said Manny Rosendo, CEO, Entic.

Building Automation

Today, Broward Health has 85 percent of the building under automation. It continues to use BITS to monitor its plant’s health and energy consumption and identify issues for correction. These steps, to date, have it on track to save $250,000 per year.

“This is the wave of the future,” said Harrell. “It’s an investment that’s well worth it. Entic is my eyes on the system. You have your hand on the heartbeat of the plant and the hospital’s energy usage. Entic tells you how your system is designed and how it is running. You can turn things off remotely, troubleshoot from a mechanical standpoint, and see where you can save money.”

The most important benefit, according to Rosendo, is the visibility of efficiency (or inefficiency) on certain pieces of equipment. The continuous monitoring ensures that a plant’s true performance is in line with its original design standards. This type of tracking allows cost-saving analysis to be conducted and components to be adjusted as needed to maintain optimum energy efficiency.

Rosendo added, “We don’t sell equipment, we sell efficiency, and we stick around as your partner. We monitor your targets and commit our resources to maintaining that efficiency. BHMC is a great partner because they are truly committed to getting to the source of the issue and solving real problems. And that’s what we want to do as well.”

Publication date: 5/13/2013