Skip to main content

Tools for cOntinuous building Performance Auditing

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TOPAs (Tools for cOntinuous building Performance Auditing)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2018-10-31

The TOPAs continuous performance auditing framework enables a better understanding of the actual energy performance in and across existing buildings and facilitates continuous performance improvement based on real operational use. TOPAs provides decision support tools for building and facilities managers, owners and ESCOs to more effectively manage their site, providing visibility on how energy related decisions impact cost, occupant comfort and health and general management processes. TOPAs has demonstrated the benefits of continuous auditing process through the use of the TOPAs solution under real operating conditions and scenarios in both private and public commercial building blocks in Ireland and France.

TOPAs links building performance (prediction) models with operational Building Management Systems (BMSs) and measuring technologies to improve both the accuracy of the prediction models and the in-use performance of the buildings. TOPAs has shown a reduction in the gap to 11-27% and additional energy savings in the pilot regions of 12-37%.
Overall, since the beginning of the project, the TOPAs system showcases the following achievements:
• 5 exploitable innovations
• Concrete and actionable business plan
• Strong commercialization initiatives
• 19 scientific publications
• Constructive recommendations on performance auditing and input to standardization.
• 6 buildings across 3 demonstration sites in 3 different cities were enabled and integrated by means of the TOPAs platform
• Over 3,500 data points were integrated via 7 different BMS systems
• Over 177,000,000 messages have been transmitted and processed within the cloud-based TOPAs oBMS Platform
• Extensions to the original plan were identified and the implementation started

In order to reach the wider stakeholder community the TOPAs consortium organised three stakeholder fora. The aim of these fora was to introduce the TOPAs project and approach in addressing holistic energy management for blocks of buildings and to specifically address system integration, energy modelling, role of air quality in energy management and business drivers. These fora provided TOPAS with the opportunity to engage the broader stakeholder community in an effort to better understand the needs of the potential TOPAs end user base, the energy management challenges they face and the ability of TOPAs to address such. Based on the outcomes of these events we can surmise that TOPAs is addressing real industry needs in terms of developing an open BMS approach to support system integration, dynamic modelling techniques, air quality driven energy management and investigating appropriate business models for a systems of systems approach to energy management.
The TOPAs business offering contains Building Systems Integration, Real time Energy Optimisation, Energy Performance Diagnosis, and Energy Management Services. These business drivers were identified as a consequence of industry needs and serve as a motivation for the use cases that were defined, developed and validated during the course of the project.
TOPAs adopts the principle of continuous performance auditing and considers not only energy use but also an understanding of how buildings are used and their climatic state, thus providing a holistic performance audit process through supporting tools and methodologies that minimise the gap between predicted and actual energy use.

As shown in Figure 1 (attached below) TOPAs is based on a cognitive loop methodology, in essence it is a system that senses, learns, acts, and operates. Data is abstracted from the environment, by leveraging IoT technologies to transform data into actionable insights in order to better utilise assets and manage blocks of buildings.

The TOPAs Core is designed to facilitate easy implementation in any building by leveraging the BMS protocols implemented in the TOPAs RTU/LINC secure edge connector with easy configuration and setup using the TOPAs ‘cookbook’ methodology. Unlike other solutions that have already smart building IT systems in place (e.g. the Galeo building, where the BMS directly provides web services), TOPAs allows retrofitting of regular buildings enabling the introduction of advanced services provided by the TOPAs oBMS platform.

The TOPAs core provides an integrated platform with reduced complexity and a cost-effective means of abstracting systems information, where the facility manager can monitor and control the building through a single cloud-based Open Building Management System (oBMS) platform. The TOPAs add-on services provide modelling, predictive control, fault detection, system reconfiguration and air quality analysis to provide a full suite of tools for building energy management.

The core functionality of TOPAs is focused on data-abstraction, i.e. the components including LINC (Connectors & Resources), RTU (secure host at the edge), oBMS (Watson IoT, OpenAPI), NIM (meta-model) and HMI for data visualisation as depicted in Figure 2 (attached below). Additional TOPAs components (Modelling and Decision Support) are available as Add-on Services to the core, see Figure 3 (attached below).

The models developed within TOPAs play a significant role in effectively managing blocks of buildings. These include semantic models of blocks of buildings (NIM) i.e. meta-data on sensors (e.g. their semantic type) and the building assets (e.g. air handling units) as well as locations (e.g. rooms). Models for energy prediction and occupancy are required to understand the building usage and the impact changes to the operational strategy have on actual energy usage. Model predictive control strategies are used to drive the operational strategies for thermal and electrical regulation within and across blocks of buildings. The decision support tools provide additional insights to building managers/owners to ensure optimized performance is maintained across buildings and blocks of buildings. These include fault detection and diagnosis (FDD) tools, environment monitoring tools, configuration and calculation of key performance indicators, and a common interface for monitoring energy flows.
Figure 2: TOPAs Core Service
Figure 1: TOPAs Cognitive Loop
TOPAs Logo
Figure 3: TOPAs Add-On Services