Case Study

Medical Information Technology, Inc. (MEDITECH)
Framingham, MA

Picture of Meditech's Framingham Facility


Meditech's six story office complex, Corporate Place, is Located at 550 Cochituate Road, just off of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Meditech is a software company specializing in medical information systems for hospitals.

The building's major mechanical systems include:

Corporate Place was initially equipped with an ice bank system for cooling the building.  Ice was harvested during off-peak hours and used during the day in addition to chilled water provided by the ice harvesters to provide cooling for the building.  Over the years, the electric rates changed as did the building's tenant needs.  The heat load increased making the ice bank system severely undersized.   In the early 1990's, the York chiller was added to provide additional cooling capacity.  The ice bank system continued to degrade over the years due to the unavailability of parts. 

During the first quarter of 1997, Meditech removed the ice bank system and added a new Trane centrifugal chiller.  At that time, the decision was made to control the chiller plant with a computerized control system.  R. L Shields Associates, Inc. was chosen as the controls contractor.  Delta Controls was the manufacturer chosen for the controls.

A Delta Controls ORCA series DCU was chosen to control the chiller plant.    Meditech received the second DCU sold in the United States (NORAD Headquarters in Colorado received the first).  The DCU ran from the first day on with no hardware problems and has proven to be very reliable.  

The building operating software, created by R. L. Shields Associates, has been upgraded several times since the first days of operation.  Sequencing valve operations and controlling flow rates were very important issues.   Additionally, chiller capacity control was required to keep the temperatures inside the building at specification.   Chiller sequencing is accomplished based on outside dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures.  The cooling tower has two setpoints, one to provide free cooling using tower water circulated through a heat exchanger in the cooling loop.   The second setpoint provides the proper water temperature for chiller operation.  

A special piping arrangement allows the use of the free cooling heat exchanger and the York chiller simultaneously.   If the temperature and dew point are suitable, the building's cooling needs can be met with the cold water from the cooling tower.   If more cooling is required, the York will start and provide additional cooling capacity.  If more capacity is still needed, the York Chiller and the free cooling heat exchanger are shut down and the Trane chiller is started.  If additional capacity is still required, the York is restarted and run together with the Trane. 

During chiller startups, the electrical demand is monitored carefully to prevent demand spikes.  When starting the chillers, the ramp up time is adjusted to be approximately 20 minutes.  When a second chiller is start, the first is capacity locked at 40% prior to the second one starting.  This also helps prevent demand spikes.

Special software was written by R. L. Shields Associates, Inc. to accomplish several of the tasks designated as goals. Custom software included:

  1. Demand Side Management Software - This software is used to calculate the electrical demand, consumption and projects demand based on a minute by minute calculation. This enables the computer and operator to make changes in operation to avoid setting demand peaks. At Corporate Place, demand charges are approximately $10.00 per kilo watt in the winter months and approximately $27.00 per kilo watt in the summer months. A reduction in the peak kilowatts of 100 in the summer can result in a monthly savings of $2,700.00. This software also unloads the static pressure in the building while starting the chillers. This reduces the initial demand spike. To better understand Electric Demand, click here.
  2. Chiller Motor Current Limits - This software controls the chiller motor current limits. For example, if the chiller is running at 100% motor current, the load on the chiller is approximately 450 tons (1 ton equals 12,000 BTU's). Normally the chiller would start under no cooling load, transition to 100% load to cool the water to normal limits and then reduce to a sustained value matching the building load. By anticipating the building load and then limiting the maximum current the chiller can draw, the electrical demand is controlled.
  3. Chiller Leaving Water Temperature Control - This software resets the temperature of the leaving water on cool, dry days to further reduce the electric consumption of the building.
  4. Sunrise/Sunset Time Calculation - This controls the parking lot and building exterior lighting based on Sunrise and Sunset. The eliminates the problems associated with power failures skewing the time clocks and provides for the adjustment to Daylight Savings Time and Daylight Standard Time.
  5. Degree Day Tracking - This software computes the heating and cooling degree days and the same manner used by the National Weather Service. Heating and Cooling Utility costs can be tracked in conjunction with heating and cooling degree day totals. This provide a means of tracking performance based on changing climatic conditions.  To better understand degree days, click here.

As previously mentioned, the Delta ORCA DCU Panel is connected to a color host PC. The host system features Delta's IGRAPHW software. This "state-of-the-art" software package provides the user with both text information as well as providing a graphical interface. The maintenance staff has the ability to view all data and graphics from their home computers as they would see from their on-site computers.

Future phases of this project may include controlling the air handlers, automating the tenant Variable Air Volume (VAV) Boxes and adding Carbon Dioxide sensors to monitor indoor air quality.

Links to additional graphics for this project





For more information on this project or Delta Controls, contact:

R. L. Shields Associates, Inc.
27 Wentworth Drive
Bedford, NH 03110
603-472-7431 (Voice)
603-472-7395 (Fax) (E-Mail)

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