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Funded by California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program
Advanced Automated HVAC Fault Detection and Diagnostics Commercialization Program


Overall Program Goals:
The goals of the Advanced Automated HVAC Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) Commercialization Program are to develop and demonstrate advanced fault detection and diagnostic methods and measurement equipment for cooling, heating, and ventilating systems; more advanced and fault-resistant HVAC equipment; and to work directly with manufacturers in order to implement improvements and innovations in commercially available equipment.

The desired outcomes are improved indoor environmental quality, reduced energy use, reduced peak demand, and reduced pollution for the citizens of California. More than 28% of the electricity used in California commercial buildings is for air-conditioning, heating, and ventilation. At least 10% of this energy is wasted due to excessive run time and problems in the HVAC equipment and controls.

This Program is a continuation of the Energy Efficient and Affordable Small Commercial and Residential Buildings PIER Buildings Program, the Integrated Energy Systems: Productivity and Building Science Program, and other PIER buildings research projects. The relationships between the Program activities to reach this goal, and the research and market needs identified in HVAC target areas, are discussed below.

The project teams in this Program will work with major manufacturers to further develop innovative FDD techniques and systems that will be integrated with HVAC systems and controls. The projects include field demonstrations to document the energy performance and cost advantages of these systems, as well as develop and distribute information products to market decision makers. The Program has the following related goals or desired outcomes:

  • The next generation of packaged and built-up HVAC systems and controls will have either on-board diagnostics or logged data sufficient to allow analysis by a supervisory building control system.
  • Information about FDD-enabled components and equipment will be available for use in HVAC-engineering and technician training programs.
  • Building automation vendors will include FDD reporting in their products.
  • Commercial building owners and operators will use automated FDD reporting to correct problems in their building HVAC systems and reap corresponding benefits in better building environments, increased equipment life, and reduced energy use and costs.
PIER Goals:
This Program meets the PIER Goal of Improving the Energy Cost/Value of California's Electricity by reducing energy waste and providing timely information to service providers regarding energy-wasting problems in HVAC equipment and control systems.

Program Objectives:
The overall objective of this Program is to successfully develop and introduce advanced fault detection and diagnostic methods into commercial HVAC products which will be deployed in California buildings and to develop other equipment and techniques for the commercial market which will improve indoor environments and energy efficiency.

The specific goals of each technical project are as follows:

Project 2: Web-Enabled Automated Diagnostics
  • Create a web-enabled HVAC automated diagnostics system that detects and reports significant faults in air handlers; chiller, boiler, and cooling tower systems; and associated fans and pumps.
  • Demonstrate the diagnostic system in at least 3 commercial buildings.
  • Market the diagnostic system as a commercial product both directly to clients and to service providers.

    Projected Outcomes
  • At the 20% level of market penetration, reduce energy consumption in California by 49 GWh annually.
Project 3: AHU and VAV Box Diagnostics
  • Develop automated methods of determining and setting appropriate control factors to assure valid detection and reporting of faults and avoid or minimize false positive reporting of faults.
  • Embed AHU and VAV Box Diagnostics in selected controller components from three to four major control component manufacturers and deploy these in field demonstration sites for evaluation.
  • Work closely and collaboratively with HVAC controls manufacturers to ensure that product innovations are functional and practical.

    Projected Outcomes
  • At the 20% level of market penetration in colleges, hospitals, and large office buildings, reduce energy consumption in California by 157 GWh annually.
Project 4: Advanced Packaged Rooftop Unit
  • In close collaboration with one or more major RTU manufacturers, create a specification for a cost effective advanced packaged rooftop air conditioner and develop a laboratory prototype to evaluate the improvements.
  • Develop life-cycle benefit analysis to document specific benefits of each improvement.
  • Work with market transformation organizations to publicize results of the project to electric utilities, equipment manufacturers, end users, and public goods such as energy supplies and the environment.

    Projected Outcomes
  • At the 20% level of market penetration, reduce energy consumption in California by 25 GWh annually.
Project 5: Rooftop Unit Diagnostics
  • Embed FDD methods in selected controller components from one or two major control component manufacturers and deploy these in field demonstration sites for evaluation.
  • Work with manufacturer(s) to develop network systems and information technology to effectively communicate equipment conditions to facilities and service personnel.
  • Deploy these FDD-enabled unit controllers and networked information systems in field demonstration sites for evaluation and refinement.

    Projected Outcomes
  • At the 20% level of market penetration, reduce energy consumption in California by 36 GWh annually.
Project 6: SpeciFlow™ Technology
Make three technical improvements to the SpeciFlow™ technology to improve its accuracy at high damper opening positions and data I/O to accelerate its entrance into the marketplace.

          Projected Outcomes
  • Code-mandated outside air measurements will be made more accurately and less expensively compared to existing technologies.
Project 7: Program Market Connections
Guide the market focus of the Program to increase the adoption and public benefits impact of the projects products and results.

          Projected Outcomes
  • Private sector adoption of technologies and practices from the Program.
  • Regulatory and voluntary mechanisms that influence the integration of the results into the market and that exist as a result of this project.



Project 1. Program Administration
Project 2.
Web-Enabled Automatic Diagnostics
Project 3. AHU and VAV Box Diagnostics
Project 4. Advanced Packaged Rooftop Unit
Project 5. Rooftop Unit Diagnostics
Project 6. SpeciFlow™ Technology
Project 7. Program Market Connection

View PIER Project Summaries   

Program Administration | Web-Enabled Automatic Diagnostics | AHU and VAV Box Diagnostics| Advanced Packaged Rooftop Unit
Rooftop Unit Diagnostics | SpeciFlow™ Technology | Program Market Connection

Updated September 28, 2006