Advances in digital technology, sensors, and telecommunications have facilitated monitoring and controlling buildings far more efficiently than in the past. Volttron is a software platform that was developed by the United States Department of Energy and offers a secure means to accomplish this control (https://volttron.org/about-volttron). With today’s greater need for no- or low-carbon solutions and greater potential for buildings to incorporate distributed generation, smart building management systems are the lynchpin to a successful strategy.
Behind The MeterThe Volttron™ platform facilitates secure transactions with the electric utility, enabling demand side management and distributed generation. The technology enables the value of smart building management systems to go well beyond energy savings.
Smart sensors and controls have been used in the past to improve energy efficiency, thereby reducing operating costs. These past systems were typically proprietary, and thus mostly limited to very large buildings, or large collections of buildings, due to the complexity and cost of implementation.
Today, emerging smart building systems offer cyber-security with the benefits of open-source architecture – lower cost, greater flexibility, and protection against obsolescence. It is more easily possible to control, monitor and report on many aspects of building operation in real time. The Volttron platform provides an architecture created to facilitate secure transactions with the utility, enabling demand side management and distributed generation. This step change in the underlying architecture can be built into sensors, controls, and localized edge or cloud computing, as well as grid management.
Applications for the Volttron platform can be tailored to the specific application – to facilitate transactional energy management, demand-side management, HVAC controls, health and security monitoring, data visualization and analytics, and other functions. These applications offer improved decision-making tools for building owners, managers and occupants.
By deploying the Volttron platform in individual buildings, co-owned facilities, or systems of buildings, owners and occupants can significantly enhance visibility into operations, maintenance, health and safety. Through analytics, it is possible to identify inefficiencies in functional performance, locate equipment in need of repair or maintenance, and find means to improve revenue or meet health, safety, environmental or resiliency goals. The transparency of data empowers ever-smarter uses of resources, and the open-source nature of the Volttron platform provides flexibility to enhance features as needs evolve. The ease of use through dashboards enables users to get to the bottom line they need, such as the direct cost of a given decision, while maintaining user control over building functions and setpoints.
Today the Volttron platform is ready to be installed at the device or system level to improve control of many new and existing buildings using some already-demonstrated application dashboards. The systems are relatively inexpensive and can integrate with existing building equipment, controls and building management systems through standard data protocols. This facilitates utilization of data that is already being collected as well as expansion of other features. The Volttron platform utilizes encryption to assure security and can be run on a Raspberry Pi or most other Linux-based computing platforms.
The pandemic has created additional challenges to building management that the Volttron platform can help address. Applications for the Volttron platform can facilitate re-opening buildings in a healthy and safer manner in the face of communicable disease concerns. It can be retrofit to existing buildings with legacy equipment and systems, while mitigating turndown concerns when buildings have variable occupancy.
Learn more about Volttron’s applications and potential expansion by downloading the white paper or contacting us at: