UC Berkeley Helios Research Facility

Helios Research Facility is a state-of-the-art research building at the UC Berkeley Campus in Berkeley, CA. This is definitely what is referred to as a “smart building”. The office portion of the building has 91 VAV zones that are interlocked with occupancy sensors and window switches to disallow mechanical heating or cooling if there is a window open or the office being served is not occupied.

The primary systems consist of 2 chillers, 2 cooling towers, 2 boilers, 9 air handlers, 11 exhaust fans, a refrigerant monitoring system and several energy monitoring devices.

The lab controls consist of 66 fume hoods, 91 zones and 223 interlocking valves with occupancy sensors.

As part of the smart building technologies incorporated into this building there are variable frequency drives (VFD’s) installed on each piece of moving equipment (pumps, fans, chillers, etc.) which limit the energy consumption to the minimum requirements needed for the building to maintain its pre-designed comfort levels. In addition there are energy meters installed on the electrical switch gear and each distribution panel so that each electrical circuit in the building is monitored. There are also gas meter monitors and water meter monitors to report water and gas usage in the labs. There is even a monitor on the irrigation system to report any excessive water usage for the landscaping around the building.

The more that is monitored in a building the better the potential control of the building. Fume hood controls can eliminate excessive energy usage of exhaust fans and assist with indoor air quality (IAQ). Window switches and occupancy sensors that disable mechanical zones when not needed will definitely save on energy consumption. VFD’s on mechanical equipment limit energy usage to only what is needed.

Smart buildings are designed to use a minimum amount of gas, electricity and water. The design can only be accomplished if there is sophisticated monitoring, reporting and response time to make the necessary adjustments to maintain building set points. This is accomplished through the installation of a building automation system or building management system. HVAC Controls is proud that we took an active role in the installation of the building management system in this state-of-the-art “smart building”.