Kerr Administration Building on OSU's campus runs 24/7. Home to the President's Office, Human Resources, Finance and Administration and more, Kerr is one of the central hubs at the Corvallis campus. As such, people work and visit Kerr all hours of the day and expect a comfortable environment.

Over a year ago the building control system that managed Kerr's HVAC failed.  Kerr's heating and air conditioning had to be controlled on a standalone basis, rather than from a central point. With the Building Controls shop having to physically go to each room to change temperatures, energy consumption went up and occupant comfort went down. Complaints of extreme hot and cold temperatures were a daily occurrence, and Facilities Services was spending a lot of time responding to these complaints.

Maureen Clarke, Facilities Access & Building Systems Manager, tasked HVAC Control Technician Jason Lay and Facilities System Administrator Walt Ackermann with getting remote access and control of Kerr’s building back. A new control system would be ideal, but the system that failed also controlled over 30 buildings and there was no room in the capital renewal budget this biennium for a $500,000 product. 

Working with an old, salvaged Siemens controller, an existing controller tied to Kerr and with Ackermann's programming know-how, Facilities Services gained remote control of the HVAC on the north side of Kerr. That allowed Building Controls to turn air handlers and pumps on and off via a schedule or a command, creating huge energy savings and restoring occupant comfort.

After regaining control of the North side, efforts turned to the south side. With the help of Siemens service technicians, the buildings control shop was able to acquire some salvaged parts from a decommissioned system and a few purchased transducers and sensors, the Building Controls shop eventually gained control of the south side of Kerr.

Lay is interested in tracking the energy savings due to this change, so he contacted Sustainability @ OSU to assist with monitoring energy consumption. "I'm sure we'll notice a huge decrease in energy consumption due to scheduling and control." explained Lay.

While a new building automation system for controlling Kerr's HVAC is in the future, ingenuity allowed Facilities Services to gain control of Kerr's heating and air conditioning for less than $2000. Not bad for a few parts and a bunch of smarts.