Field Review: Tracking Green

DPR’s San Francisco office is one of the earliest adopters piloting the LEED Dynamic Plaque. Photo by Lyzz Schwegler
DPR’s San Francisco office is one of the earliest adopters piloting the LEED Dynamic Plaque. Photo by Lyzz Schwegler

Data collection technologies help DPR’s San Francisco office maintain high-performing building

The adage “knowledge is power” is fitting for the way that DPR is using technology to collect building systems data—and then using that data to optimize the performance and efficiency of its new San Francisco office building.

Completed in the spring of 2014, the building’s half-dozen different “dashboards” and data collection systems deliver real-time information on virtually every aspect of its performance. The building’s interactive systems play a vital role in DPR’s ongoing efforts to secure net-zero energy certification and targeted LEED Platinum status (expected in 2015), while also helping to create a truly high-performing building.

“We subscribe to the notion that if you’re not keeping score, it’s only practice,” said Ted van der Linden, who leads DPR’s sustainability program in the San Francisco office and helped set up the data mining and monitoring systems in the new space. “This is definitely far out in front of the market,” he added. “I don’t think there is another builder around that can tell you definitively that they average approximately 10,500 kilowatt hours per month of energy usage and generate anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 kilowatt hours through the building’s solar panels, depending on the sun and its orientation in the clouds. Here, we see it on the dashboards every day when we walk in the front door.”

There are three primary data collection and building management technologies in place to monitor and optimize building systems performance as well as several other less visible dashboards that target specific building functions like plug-load use and solar energy generation. They include:

  • Integrated Honeywell building management system, the “brains” of the building that allows easy system adjustments as needed via an interactive monitor;
  • Lucid Building Dashboard®, considered the key “benchmarking” and interactive tool providing vital, easy-to-understand information on both past and current energy use and generation through a touchscreen dashboard; and
  • New LEED Dynamic Plaque™, which features up-to-date information about how the building is tracking towards LEED certification based on current performance data.

DPR’s San Francisco office is one of the earliest adopters piloting the LEED Dynamic Plaque, a product jointly designed by the U.S. Green Building Council and Green Building Certification Institute; Honeywell is reselling the technology. Prominently displayed in the front of the office, the plaque assesses facility performance in energy use, water consumption, waste output, occupant transportation and human experience. It aggregates the data to provide an overall performance score.

It is critical that building occupants participate, have buy-in and are willing to make adjustments to optimize building performance and achieve a high-performing building, van der Linden points out.

“Getting employees on board is one of the bigger paradigm shifts needed,” he said. “We can absolutely build the greenest building on the planet, but if we don’t have employees engaged or don’t have their buy-in, it’s just not going to be a proficient process or successful.”

Like each DPR green or net-zero energy building before it, the building is already generating data that can be used to improve the next one. For example, a cafe ice machine was discovered to use nearly four times as much energy as the collective pull from all of the Big Ass Fans serving the second floor conditioning systems. “We wouldn’t have that insight without metering that information,” said van der Linden.

See real-time building performance information for DPR’s San Francisco office from the Lucid Building Dashboard here.