By Paul Hora/Sandhills Utility ServicesFebruary 19, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For 25 million square feet and a couple thousand buildings in its real estate portfolio, Fort Bragg spends nearly $60 million each year on energy. As a result of increasing populations and ever rising energy costs, a plan was developed three years ago to implement a central utility processing center for building and facility controls.
These controls pertain to any part of the air-conditioning and heating systems of the occupied buildings. The system is called UMCS, or utility monitoring and control software, and its primary function is to be an advanced warning system in the event of equipment malfunction or failure.
The systems are also designed specifically to reduce energy consumption and increase operational efficiency in military and other federal facilities.
Originally, the Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville, Ala. awarded a contract for UMCS and two years ago they started working on Fort Bragg. Since then, nearly 25 buildings representing more than a half million square feet have been outfitted with the UMCS system and there are plans to bring over 200 more on line in the near future.
The UMCS systems work like a central brain telling the operator what is going on in a building which can be located anywhere on base as long as there is a network connection point.
The building controls for the facility are connected to a processing station which sends a message back to the receiving point letting the operator know the status of the system or equipment in place.
The message can run in one or both directions to the operator meaning that in some cases the system manger will have the ability to make changes to the building's operating system. An example of this would be if an air-conditioning unit is running at an inappropriate time, the controller is alerted and can send a message to the device to turn it off or turn back the temperature. If this device is showing signs of problems, a service order is generated and staff would be deployed to the location troubleshoot and ultimately fix the problem.
The system will save time and money for the operation and maintenance of existing facilities as well as the new construction coming online in the future.
These advance warnings often precede the occupants of the buildings ever knowing there is an issue with the system which saves time and prevents catastrophic failures.
This open system has dramatically changed building system controls by introducing three basic functions: stand-alone control, supervisory control and information management.
The state-of-the-art equipment performs by seamlessly integrating environmental control, energy management, maintenance management, lighting control and overall facility monitoring in all types and size buildings.
The UMCS also integrates equipment and systems from more than 100 manufactures, allowing the government to protect investments in system and products already installed.
"UMCS will create a synergy between the buildings here on base and a central management system that will not only be more energy efficient but also save us time and expense by seeing problems while they are small and being able to take action before they turn into really big issues" said Coby Jones, UMCS manager.
Through the customize reports, the federal government will be able to more accurately measure energy saving, monitor electrical power utilization and manage peak electrical demand all of which helps meet federal requirements in the Energy Policy Act and Energy Independence and Securities Act for metering and energy reductions.
"We are insuring that what UMCS is as a whole, meets Fort Bragg's needs for occupancy comfort and control by insuring that temperature requirements are met while simultaneously following the Army level policy and also federal guidelines for facility management," said Jones.
Systems like UMCS are resulting in an energy reduction savings of 15 to 20 percent in many cases. This means that Fort Bragg is meeting energy goals and doing a good thing for the environment.
If you have questions, please contact Paul Hora at firstname.lastname@example.org.