Posts Tagged ‘energy management system’

Climate Control Systems – Thermostats or Computer-based Management System

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Indoor Climate Control

When to use Thermostats vs a software-based Management System

It is easy to know that a simple 1 or 2 zone system can be well-controlled using traditional wall-mounted thermostats at strategic locations within a home or building.  However, when the number of zones increases and/or the amount of equipment that needs to be managed within a system begins to require an advanced degree in science, it may be time to consider a more comprehensive solution.

Automated Climate Control systems are not new.  Indeed, they have been around for many years, but for the average homeowner or small business, they may have been out-of-reach from a cost standpoint.  New technology and new software are changing that scenario.

Before considering the software based management solution, we must first consider what the customer – the end-user – is looking for in the way of control for their HVAC system.

Simplicity – Thermostat systems are easy to use.  The input is a desired temperature, the outcome is hopefully the same.  Not a lot of thought required by the end-user.  A software-based system needs to be straight forward in asking for inputs and desired outcomes from the end-user.  Menus should be simple (e.g. – point & click).ecotstatscreen

Minimal Intervention – At its most basic level, a thermostat can be set and then ignored.  However, each time a different temperature level is required, it requires interaction by the end-user.  Ideally, a software-based system does not require repeated inputs by an end-user.  It should always have enough information to control the system and produce the appropriate comfort level.

Access to information (and reassurance) – People want to be comfortable with the idea that their equipment and systems are working as they are expected.  They want to be able to access information from anywhere at anytime.  At the same time, they don’t want just anyone to be able to do this, so security is just as important.

Easy Troubleshooting – When both mechanical and electronic components are in the mix (not to mention the human element), there are bound to be problems.  People want to be able to identify the source of their problem as quickly as possible so they can determine appropriate action.

Easy Service – Once a problem has been identified, people want to be able to identify and engage the best resource to solve the problem as quickly as possible.  As systems get more complicated, the need to assist the end-user in this process becomes more important.

What is a dealer looking for in the same system:

Simplicity – The system must be easy to explain to the customer.  The product itself must demonstrate that it will handle their complicated equipment while not requiring them to become experts in the technology.

Easy to design and install – The contractor wants to be able to provide a system cost and then come in on time and on-budget without requiring expensive or specialized on-site resources.  In addition, the system should use products that are non-proprietary, readily available, and are easy to maintain, repair, or replace.

Access to information (for easy troubleshooting) – The contractor wants to be able to access the system so they can quickly determine what resources will be required and when.  Ideally, the dealer will get this information at the same time or even before the customer does.

Long-term relationship with the customer – A system that contacts the contractor for service provides an excellent  opportunity for a high-value customer relationship that includes an assured revenue stream over a long-term period and an opportunity for customer referrals.


The more complicated the system, the easier it is to justify the additional expense of a true climate control system.  The presence of multiple zones, multiple heat sources, multiple methods of heat distribution – e.g., radiant and forced air, or simply a variety of other system elements (snow melt system, heat recovery ventilators, etc.) will point toward a more comprehensive solution.  The point is to keep the control simple and easy for the end-user.  While there are new thermostat products and even smart-phone apps out there that can bring system controls right into the hands of the end-user, the fact is that most of these are not self-managing systems and do not really provide the maximum value to either the end user or the contractor.  A climate control system that ties all the inputs and controls together and is flexible enough to handle all types of heating systems including a mix of forced air and radiant floor systems is the optimal solution.


For the Contractor – Simply define the inputs (zones, temperature, humidity, power-monitoring points) and equipment (furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, air handlers, HRV’s, ERV’s, etc.) to be controlled while planning the rest of the HVAC system and obtaining a cost estimate for the system is easy.  Better yet, rough-in work is just as easy with all wiring coming back to a single point (typically the mechanical area).  The system ships already partially configured.  All that is left is for the desired outcomes (e.g. – zone temps based on time, day, season, event, etc.) to be set up through the easy to use menus.

Once the system is up and running, it allows for the dealer/service provider to automatically be notified (via e-mail or text) of any problems with the system.  What value will an end-user apply to the dealer that proactively calls them to discuss a potential problem with their HVAC system?  What value will the dealer apply to a product that allows them to access and view the system through a web-based connection to potentially troubleshoot the problem without having to roll a truck?

For the customer – once the initial work with the contractor and the system is set up, they will have full ability to monitor their system.  While they will have the ability to make adjustments to their system, they should rarely need to do so.  By prearranging a service agreement with their dealer, they will have the confidence and the comfort of knowing that through automatic system notification that any problems will be addressed quickly and cost effectively.


The contractor should not be afraid to discuss automated climate control systems with their customer.  Trying to manage multiple zone systems using traditional thermostats may sound simple at first, but the practical day-to-day management of this approach may prove to be frustrating as well as tedious, resulting in an unhappy consumer.  Technology is meant to simplify our lives.  It doesn’t get much simpler than a climate control system that proactively monitors the weather forecast, knows both your work and vacation schedule, sets the climate accordingly without any intervention at all.

Geothermal Case Study: Center for Green Technology

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Eagle Mountain’s Center for Green Technology is a revolutionary facility that demonstrates a commitment to environmental conservation, and is a showcase for the companies’ line of alternative energy products.

Environmental Innovation

The Center for Green Technology is dedicated to research and development of green technology, making alternative energy HVAC products more efficient and available to a larger market of consumers.

The facility uses a Geothermal HVAC system with radiant heating and intelligent climate control.  Multiple loopfields and independent geothermal heat pumps allow Eagle Mountain engineers to study and improve the integration of geothermal heating equipment.

Resource Reduction

The Center for Green Technology and Innovation is dedicated to geothermal heating and cooling, solar, and wind, all of which harness naturally abundant energy sources and significantly reduce consumption of non-renewable resources.

Alternative Energy Use

The Center for Green Technology uses alternative energy to heat and cool its 21,000 square foot facility. Geothermal heat pumps exchange heat between a pond and the building, providing energy efficient heating and cooling.

Green Building

The Center for Green Technology uses existing technology to dramatically lower energy costs, uses sustainable and reusable building products, and reduces environmental impact. The project demonstrates how green building can be accomplished at a cost similar to traditional commercial construction.

Abundant Natural Light

Abundant Natural Light

The facility includes “green” building principles such as:

  • Special window glazing
  • Strategic skylights and windows to reduce lighting requirements
  • Motion activated light switches
  • Insulated concrete form (ICF) construction
  • A rainwater collection system
  • Water-less urinals
  • Recycled blue jean insulation

Solar Powered Sink

Waterless Urinals

Long-term Commitment to Conservation

Energy consumption at the Center for Green Technology is less than half that of a typical building of the same size.  Programs and services teach customers, employees, and the community how business can meet the profit demands of a business and the ethical demands of environmental conservation.



Geothermal HVAC System

The Center for Green Technology uses water-to-water geothermal heat pumps with a pond loop and a horizontal slinky ground loop. Radiant floors heat the building during winter months, and air handlers cool the building during summer months.  The building uses heat recovery ventilation (HRV) and Eagle Mountain’s Ecô energy management system to manage and optimize energy consumption.

Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV)

Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV)

Interview with Doug Mossbrook
CEO of Eagle Mountain and designer of the Center for Green Technology.

Doug Mossbrook

1. Did the building receive LEED certification? If so, when and what
certification level?
The LEED process is still underway. At this point the building score should easily qualify for LEED Gold.

2. How long did it take the building to be constructed? 24 months

3. How much energy is the building saving when compared to a
traditional building of the same size?
Our building modeling is estimated at 49% reduction of energy use. We will be monitoring the actual energy use with our new Ecô Energy Management System that we developed. Then we can match estimated performance with actual.

4. I read about the training center in a local newspaper article. Doug
mentions that he envisions seminars for local colleges, and for trades
people to gain certification? Has there been any opportunity to host
seminars/certifications yet?
We have been providing geothermal training for our national dealer network bi-monthly since Spring 2009. We are working with the local community college on a program as part of their sustainability program. We would also like to host some of the RPA and IGSHPA training classes here at our facility.

5. How is solar and wind being used to harness energy at the site? The upper roof area has been prepared to hold 8 solar thermal panels and 22 solar pv panels. The 10 Kilowatt wind generator was pulled from the building site plan due to a town moratorium on wind generators. Since we are in a valley the wind generator was to be used for demonstration purposes anyway. We intend to move forward with the zoning work to get approval in the future.

6. Do you believe green building can be accomplished economically? Why or why not? It sounds like the cost of this building was in line with the cost of building traditional. I not only believe it, I proved it. I was able to build this project for a cost of $100 per square foot.

7. What type of rainwater collection system is being used? We collect the rainwater from our roof drains and filter it using 2 – vortex filters made by Wisy brand products from Germany. The water is collected in an underground storage tank, and is used for all of our toilets and faucets used for washing trucks and equipment.

8. What type of low-flow plumbing fixtures are being used? We used Sloan low-flow toilets and waterless urinals.

9. Why did you decide to put a green roof on the building? Is it the
entire building roof or just part of the building roof?
I felt the green roof could help the building blend into the natural environment on this site, created a nice patio area as a workspace, and I was
interested in the thermal performance from a research standpoint. Due to cost, we only have 3600 sf of green roof area. I wish I had done the whole roof. That section, which is over the education wing, uses much less energy for heating and cooling.

10. How is the training center teaching the community about
sustainability and conservation?
We are putting together a three-part educational seminar series that would be offered free to the public. The focus would be on alternative energy systems and sustainable
methods. The first program will be on solar and wind technologies, and we expect to start the 3-month series next spring.

11. What type of classes seminars are taking place at the training
Geothermal, solar, wind systems, sustainable building methods and technology, rainwater collection, just to name a few.

12. What are your future goals for the training center? Our goal is to become a leader in industry and community based educational programs, that provide people ideas and skills to enable them and promote change.

About Eagle Mountain

Eagle Mountain is an alternative energy integrator specializing in radiant heating, geothermal heating and cooling, and energy management systems.  Eagle Mountain distributes its products under the Radiantmax, Geomax, and Ecô brand names. As a boutique supplier of integrated systems, Eagle Mountain has customers located throughout the world and is based at the 21,000 sf Center for Green Technology in Bristol, NY.

Customer: Center for Green Technology

Location: Canandaigua, NY

Project: Geothermal HVAC system with water-to-water heat pumps and radiant distribution.


Installer: Geocorp

Geothermal Case Study: Red Tail Ridge

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
Red Tail Ridge

Red Tail Ridge

Customer: Geocorp

Location: Penn Yan, NY

Project: Red Tail Ridge Winery: HVAC and Wine Process Cooling with: Geothermal, Radiant, HRV, Energy Management


Red Tail Ridge is a Finger Lakes winery using an Eagle Mountain geothermal system for HVAC and process cooling.

An industry leader in sustainability and innovation, the new facility at Red Tail Ridge will be LEED certified and delivers a 40.1% total energy savings.  The system components include geothermal, radiant heating, heat recovery ventilation, and Ecô energy management.

System Background

The system design calls for a 20-ton closed-loop geothermal heat pump system to heat and cool the building, and to provide chilled water for process cooling. The system consists of four (4) 5-ton Cascade water-to-water heat pumps, a horizontal closed-loop “GeoSlinky” ground loop heat exchanger, and a custom Hydronic Control Panel.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Two geothermal heat pumps are dedicated to space heating and cooling. Radiant floor heating is installed in the process, case and barrel storage, and bottling areas. A fan coil unit provides for cooling and heating loads in the laboratory located on the mezzanine level.

The other two water-to-water heat pumps generate chilled propylene glycol to meet the process cooling requirements of winemaking.

Horizontal Slinky Loop

The horizontal slinky loop consists of eight trenches, each 130 feet long with 4 feet spacing between each trench. The slinky coil is 34- inches in diameter with 18-inches of pitch. A propylene glycol solution is circulated through the ground loop heat exchanger and the water-source heat pumps by a variable flow/variable speed loop pumping system.

Heat Recovery Ventilation

Ventilation air will be introduced into the building through a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). The HRV includes a flat plate heat exchanger that transfers energy between building exhaust and outdoor air streams.

Control System

The entire HVAC system including wine process cooling is controlled by Eagle Mountain’s Ecô energy management system.  This “virtual control device” replaces all hardware control devices and is accessible from any Internet connection in the world.

The Ecô energy management system has additional benefits for Winemakers.  This browser-based system allows the Winemaker to control and monitor the winemaking process remotely. Ecô provides Winemakers an innovative alternative to manual operation of the Winemaking process.

Click to learn more about The Ecô energy management system.

Design & Installation

Eagle Mountain specified the system design, integrated and supplied all components, and provided consulting services for the application of geothermal technologies for LEED certification.

Geocorp, an alternative energy installer located in Western New York, installed the system at Red Tail Ridge.