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New, Integrated Building Management System Boosts Portugal’s Nova School of Business and Economics Modernization Initiative

Francisco is the Commercial Director of Domótica SGTA. Domótica SGTA is a Master-level BMS EcoXpert™.

Contributors: Luis C. Carvalho, CEO, and Nuno Santos, Project Manager, Domótica SGTA. 

Nova School of Business & Economics (Nova SBE) is the top business school in Portugal and is one of the most recognized educational institutions in Europe, specializing in Economics, Finance, and Management. With more than 3,000 students from over 70 different countries enrolled, the school built a new modern campus near Lisbon, to accommodate the needs of its growing student population.

The new campus construction project included classrooms for both continuing education and university- level students, student dormitories, a gym, administrative offices, a library, conference rooms, and areas with restaurants, a podcast studio, a bank branch, and a supermarket.

The contractors tasked with constructing the campus faced challenges that included tight project timelines, limited budgets, and a need for skilled experts to complete the work. We at Domotica SGTA, a Master-level BMS EcoXpert™ partner specializing in the design, installation and commissioning of building management systems (BMS) and building automation, were called in by the project’s electrical contractor to provide HVAC and lighting controls integration. Over the years in Portugal, we have established a reputation for being able to work well within challenging, complex deployment environments.

Building Management System at Nova BSE
Nova School of Business and Economics

Despite delays and complexity, hard work, expertise and flexibility deliver a robust and reliable building management system

We were tasked with integrating HVAC and lighting systems from a variety of third-party companies. One of the goals of the end user was to make the connectivity and the gateways transparent to the facilities staff. The stakeholders required a uniform and intuitive interface across all systems. They wanted no differences in graphical user interface when staff members switched from light control to HVAC control, although different platforms were being used in the background.

Due to the presence of multiple vendors and sub-contractors on the project, timelines were often delayed as one vendor was dependent on a previous vendor to complete their portion of the work. Since our work was involved at the tail end of the project, we faced some severe timeline constraints. We faced having to perform system commissioning while the facility was already in use. Normally, a building management system (BMS) should be installed during an earlier phase, while the building is still empty to ensure robust testing of integrated third-party equipment and software.

We were required to perform testing of the BMS, HVAC, and lighting systems with minimal disruption to the students who, by now, were using all the buildings within the campus. For us to manage this situation, we studied the classroom schedule every day, which informed us of which classes would be empty and at what time. Our work was planned according to the availability of the rooms. This was challenging because, typically, buildings are commissioned one floor at a time. However, in this case, we alternated back and forth between locations and performed our testing in a piecemeal fashion. We also scheduled our work during unusual times such as early morning before classes started up and evenings after the classes had ended. Fortunately, all this frenetic behind-the-scenes work was invisible to the students and staff.

Time savings – a benefit of an open technology platform

We were able to successfully integrate these different systems within the allotted time period thanks to the use of standard protocols like BACnet, Modbus, and DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) and an open Schneider Electric platform called EcoStruxure™ that allowed us to connect smart devices and to perform seamless edge control, regardless of the brand of equipment involved.

The Schneider Electric EcoStruxure platform served to integrate the HVAC IP network and the Modbus electrical meters in field buses through a common automation server. Integration of the DALI controllers and third-party equipment such as power meters was rendered a simple task. It’s easy to send BACnet variables between the automation server and the DALI controller and between the DALI controllers and the enterprise server software. This is the essence of working within a platform that is open like EcoStruxure. The benefits are far fewer headaches and a much faster implementation.

Since we have a maintenance contract in place, we monitor what is happening at the school remotely from our office. If something is incorrect or not working from an integration standpoint, the school’s facilities team can call us and we will access their system remotely to assess what is happening and, in many cases, can apply the fixes online.

The students, faculty, and staff at Nova School of Business and Economics now enjoy a modern facility that is reliable, predictable and digitally connected. The intuitive and integrated BMS interface allows the facilities team to easily manage a multi-vendor environment, and to ensure smooth operation through efficient lighting and precise and efficient temperature control.

To learn more about how digitized building automation solutions can improve your building’s performance check out some of our other project deployments.

About the Contributors:

Luis C. Carvalho is the co-founder and General Manager of Domótica SGTA. Domótica is the largest independent Building Management Systems (BMS) integrator company in Portugal. Mr. Carvalho has 30+ years’ BMS experience, working on high-profile projects such as Lisbon Airport, Santander Bank, the Judiciary Police, EDP and Microsoft headquarters in Lisbon, BCI headquarters in Maputo, and many others.

Nuno Santos, with 17+ years of project management experience, holds a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Industrial Automation and Power Systems. Mr. Santos is a Senior Automation Engineer with Domótica. He coordinates projects and staff and works closely with clients to ensure that processes and systems are checked, tested, and operational upon delivery.

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