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AEE’s Energy Engineering Journal – Case Study on Existing Buildings Getting Intelligent Solutions

Posted September 13th 2016

Intelligent buildings promise the ability to significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce operational costs by constantly monitoring and optimizing millions of data points from equipment and sensors. However, only newer buildings with modern automation systems can take full advantage of this. Older buildings that employ pneumatic and analog control technologies, typically constructed before 1999, must undergo very costly and disruptive upgrades to enable them to be smart. In recent years, innovative non-invasive technologies were introduced that significantly reduce the cost to retrofit an existing building compared to conventional direct digital controls (DDC) upgrade. This article describes the project at 311 South Wacker Drive, a 65 story hi-rise acquired by Zeller Realty in early 2014. This 1.4 million sq-ft Class A office tower in Chicago was upgraded to an intelligent building at 70% lower cost than using DDC, achieving a 1.7-year payback.