Modernisation with brains instead of brawn

Given the increasing cost of energy and efforts to reduce carbon footprint, energy-efficient building modernisation is constantly gaining in significance. In office buildings in particular, it is heating, air conditioning and lighting that account for a lot of energy consumption. In a building that requires renovation for example, heating and water can even account for as much as one third of facility operating costs.

Modern heating regulation governed by time of day and room temperature can save a lot of money in both residential and office buildings. Properly controlled networking of heating, air conditioning and lighting has now become standard in new buildings. If older buildings are to be operated economically and ecologically friendly, outdated installations need to be replaced or retrofitted with energy-saving technology.

Retrofits generally involve considerable effort and expense in terms of having to drill holes in walls and lay whole metres of cabling, creating noise, dust and dirt. So it can hardly be undertaken while a building is occupied by people trying to concentrate on their job. Consequently, there is increasing focus on high-performance, wireless systems that consume minimal power, are simply and speedily installed, and eliminate the need to drill any holes in walls to route cables. EnOcean technology is an example.

Self-powered wireless technology has now been installed in the headquarters of Telecom Italia, the country’s leading telecommunications provider. Established in 1994 and headquartered in Milan, the company operates the larger part of Italy’s landline network with internet services, and is also the major Italian cellphone provider through its affiliate Telecom Italia Mobile.

“Pivotal for selecting EnOcean-enabled products was the flexibility and speed of installation you get from self-powered wireless technology”, says Dr. Diego Cattaneo, Product Manager of Siemens Building Technologies Division, the partner responsible for implementing the project. “That enabled us to modernise the eight-floor building in next to no time – without having to interrupt regular, day-to-day operations.”

The EnOcean-enabled products work entirely without cables and batteries. If any renovations are then carried out, removing and relocating them is speedy and straightforward.

To make the eight floor corporate headquarters (with more than 40 offices on each level) more economical in operation and more comfortable and convenient in subsequent use, the telecommunications enterprise decided to modernise its old HVAC plant and link it to a central control system.

The first step was to replace all existing fan coils. This meant removing about 1000 old units. Modern electric fan coils were installed in their place and connected to Siemens RXC21.1 room controllers. These enable automatic control not only of fan coils but also of chilled ceilings and radiators in individual rooms. The next step was to install 200 SRC04-FTT EnOcean/LON gateways from Thermokon, which were then tied to the LON bus. The building contains a total of 14 vertical LON bus routes. Finally 600 Thermokon SR04 PST room temperature sensors were installed, with setpoint and fan level settings. The batteryless room sensors regulate temperature and ventilation in the individual rooms. Information is transmitted to receivers by EnOcean standard wireless telegrams. A solar-powered energy storage mechanism makes operation service-free.

All system components are integrated into the Siemens Desigo building automation system. An open platform makes Desigo compatible with all existing and future systems and components so it is possible to continue using existing products and integrate new ones. The automation system supports Ethernet TCP/IP, OPC, BACnet, EIB, LonMark, PROFIBUS, the telephone network and the internet. A further advantage is that the entire installation can also be controlled from a PC by the Desigo Insight management station.

Installing the 800 self-powered devices proved to be very simple and the modernisation work only took about three months. Renovation was undertaken while the company continued to operate, without disturbing its employees. The old fan coils were replaced during the night. Installation of the controllers in the various offices was possible during the day however, because no cabling had to be laid for the purpose.

Innovative technology in its corporate headquarters enables Telecom Italia to offer its people more comfort and convenience, and at the same time cut power consumption by matching it to real needs. Then there is the attractive flexibility of installation that comes with the technology. With little effort, and without damaging walls, it was possible to fit the wireless sensors speedily and simply, precisely where they are of optimum benefit.

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