A Zondits Interview: A Deeper Dive Into 75F’s Technology

Valerie Eacret and Amanda Gassé, ERS, for Zondits

Zondits first met the 75F Team at the E Source Forum in September 2017. In Part 1 of our interview we focused on the origins of 75F, their product, and services. In Part 2 we are taking a deeper dive into the technology behind the product and how the product is benefiting users.

  1. Does the system use sensors within an existing building management system, do you install new sensors when the system is installed, or a combination of both?

We include our own calibrated sensors to assure consistency of data across the system. We have both wired and wireless sensors. 75F sensors range from a simple Remote Temperature & Humidity (RTH) sensor – available in formats for walls, ceilings, or air ducts – to the 75F SmartStat, which includes onboard sensors for temperature, humidity, light, occupancy, CO2, VOCs, and sound. Sensing all of these factors will enable insights and control strategies to provide the optimal workplace experience and support the emerging WELL Building standards.

  1. What would you consider typical energy savings for installing this system? Are there any building types that tend to benefit from it more than others?

Our proprietary cloud computing algorithms consistently deliver 30%50% energy savings in our systems installations. Both 75F Dynamic Airflow Balancing and 75F Outside Air Optimization (with demand response system) are key efficiency solutions. An independent national lab energy study actually confirmed up to 70% energy savings, although that’s on the higher end. Typically, we see payback on energy savings alone within 1–3 years, but we see a full magnitude of higher value in the improved workplace experience delivery of thermal comfort, air quality, and lighting for health, cognition, and productivity.

Who benefits most?

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”18″ bg_color=”#136ebf” txt_color=”#ffffff”]Those seeking smart controls across HVAC system types and brands will also reap the benefits. Not limited to RTUs, 75F offers controls across heat pumps, boilers, cooling towers, makeup air units, exhaust fans, unit heaters, and more.[/mks_pullquote]Most simply, those who have hot and cold pockets and complaints of comfort issues. Also, those with multiple locations benefit from the multi-site visibility and rolled-up reporting dashboard, with at-a-glance status views across their portfolio of locations and the ability to drill down into individual zone and the live system performance data for associated HVAC equipment. This also helps with remote monitoring and diagnosis across sites. They can also push schedule and other edits across all locations with a single click.

From a vertical industry perspective, restaurants were an early market, given the combined attributes of having much higher energy consumption (3x) vs. average office buildings, owner/occupant concern for operational expenses and employee/customer comfort alike across hot and cold environments, plus pressure and air quality interests. The multi-site management and brand experience consistency across franchised locations also extends to retail environments. But office and light industrial buildings are proving to be a strong growth area, especially as more focus goes toward employee workplace experience. So, we’re really looking across verticals and building profiles in the commercial real estate market.

Which HVAC system profiles benefit the most?

Light commercial buildings with constant velocity (CV) systems that don’t yet have zoning are prime candidates for the 75F Dynamic Airflow Balancing solution, which is far superior to the typical variable volume and temperature with bypass damper approach.

Another category that benefits is buildings with aging rooftop units, in the 10- to 20-year-old range. They either have outdated controls or none at all. Either way, 75F can help with a quick retrofit, across multiple brands of equipment, to add efficiency and better management, while also extending the life of aging equipment.

Buildings with rooftop units that have economizers are a prime area for improvement with 75F outdoor air optimization (OAO), especially when you consider that about 50% of the economizers in the market are not functioning! And, probably 90% of the functioning ones are doing so without smart sensing and controls. Those seeking to ensure indoor air quality also benefit from our CO2, VOCs, and other air pollutant monitoring and management.

Those with VAV with reheat systems have a lot to gain. Typical VAV with reheat systems have inherent inefficiencies when first cooling to 55° and then heating the same air. 75F offers a smart, cost-effective solution for controlling these systems and improving efficiency and performance in new or existing buildings. It offers quick-install wireless controls for retrofits, plus performance monitoring capabilities for the heating elements and fans.

Those seeking smart controls across HVAC system types and brands will also reap the benefits. Not limited to RTUs, 75F offers controls across heat pumps, boilers, cooling towers, makeup air units, exhaust fans, unit heaters, and more.

And, as a cloud-based solution, there are no on-site servers or workstations to upgrade every few years. Plus, software-defined capabilities mean we can push new features and functionality out continuously. We also see that those who have deployed LED lighting to save energy can realize even greater savings with their HVAC system when 75F is deployed.

  1. For your advanced lighting system, can most existing lights be connected to 75F, or do new fixtures or controls need to be installed?

Our advanced lighting controls can be deployed with existing lighting. We offer a lighting panel for most controls that are installed on a circuit level, although our flexible 75F Smart Node equipment controller does have the ability to modulate LED lighting directly. Our indoor and outdoor controls offer both common functionality options such as on/off, dimming controls, and daylighting, as well as geographic location offsets and smart controls that can be set in unison with the sunrise and sunset.

  1. Is the system able to track energy savings?

Absolutely. Think of it as a next-gen energy management system that also proactively controls. Independent energy lab studies have confirmed 75F energy savings, although our system inherently reports energy use and savings at equipment, zone, building, and multi-location rollup levels, delivered in graphic dashboards and a live data drill-down interface. For example, with OAO, we provide free-cooling energy savings in hours and kWh.

Looking beyond the energy savings, we recently integrated with the Arc platform. So, now whether or not a facility is a LEED building, that business can measure and manage to energy consumption as well as “human experience,” amongst other factors in the Arc score.

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