ARMONK, N.Y., and PITTSBURGH — IBM has announced a new smarter buildings partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the first higher education institution to pioneer use of a new cloud-based analytics system for reducing energy and facility operating costs.

The university expects to save approximately 10 percent on utilities, nearly $2 million annually, when the IBM system is fully deployed across 36 buildings on its Pittsburgh campus.

“On its own, the deployment of this technology will drive significant energy and operational savings with a very attractive return on investment. Just as important, improved building performance enhances the occupant experience and provides a much more effective education and research environment,” said Donald Coffelt, associate vice president for Carnegie Mellon University’s Facilities Management Services. “IBM is a clear leader in the field of advanced building analytics and facilities systems integration. This technology offers us important gains in initiatives related to advanced infrastructure systems research, the Pittsburgh 2030 initiative, and a more proactive building and infrastructure management model.”

Buildings are expected to become the largest consumer of global energy by 2025, according to the National Science and Technology Council. Systems such as HVAC, lighting, and alarms constantly report data across building networks. However, most organizations do not use the data as well as they could to monitor overall building performance, identify trends in building use, or improve customer satisfaction.

Carnegie Mellon University will address this by using the new IBM Building Management Center delivered on the IBM SoftLayer cloud to monitor thousands of data points from building automation and control systems. The Building Management Center will also detect system problems such as simultaneous heating and cooling not identified by other means, and proactively trigger corrective actions.

The new technology will be piloted in nine buildings and then extended to 36 buildings across campus. The initial application of the Building Management Center will focus on HVAC systems and later will extend to lighting, water, and other utilities. The system is scheduled for full implementation in about three years.

“IBM and Carnegie Mellon University share a commitment to innovation and a rich history of collaboration,” said Wayne Balta, vice president, IBM Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety. “Given CMU’s renown as a world leader in engineering and computer science, this new collaboration for smarter buildings is a natural fit. CMU recognized early on that a college campus shares several things in common with a city. Just as smarter cities are using data and analytics to improve diverse aspects of their operations, CMU will harness data and analytics delivered via cloud computing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of building management across campus. We’ve done this within IBM and know it to be good for our business as well as the environment.”

The Smarter Buildings Initiative supports CMU’s technology-enhanced education and research focus, as well as its commitment to sustainability. The initiative will connect with research already underway at the university’s Smart Infrastructure Institute, of which IBM is a founding partner, and the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. In addition, faculty and students affiliated with CMU’s multidisciplinary Metro21 initiative, which seeks to design and develop solutions affecting the economy and quality of life in metropolitan areas, are planning to use data generated from the Building Management Center in their research.

For more information, visit

Publication date: 3/16/2015

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!