VIVAWEST and Phoenix Contact use digital building management to reduce energy consumption and operating costs

Building management with VIVAWEST and Phoenix Contact

After successfully launching digital building management with 400 heating systems, VIVAWEST has joined up with Phoenix Contact to expand this pilot project. A total of 300 additional heating systems are now equipped with a central controller.

This will reduce the CO2 emissions of more than 15,000 apartments by around twelve percent, making a major contribution to climate protection that will also help tenants reduce their utility bills.

By 2045, the existing buildings in Germany should be climate-neutral – that is to say, no longer producing CO2. To achieve this goal set by the German government, in addition to constructing new energy-efficient buildings and boosting energy-saving building modernization, further steps are needed to increase efficiency and reduce the final energy demand. This will involve digital building management (DBM) taking on a key role in reducing energy consumption and also operating costs for tenants along with it. As part of a pilot project, VIVAWEST has joined up with strategic development partner Phoenix Contact to equip 400 heating systems in its stock in North Rhine-Westphalia with a central controller in order to lower energy consumption and reduce malfunctions.

“The goal of making existing buildings climate-neutral by 2045 is a herculean task for the housing and real estate industry. We need to make extensive energy upgrades to our buildings and, at the same time, ensure that housing stays affordable.

Innovations such as digital building management play an important role in increasing tenants’ acceptance of these measures, and tenants also benefit from them,” says Uwe Eichner, Head of the VIVAWEST Management Board.

The heart of the system is a building controller – an IoT-based solution equipped together with strategic development partner Phoenix Contact to include communicative automation software. The IoT controller is connected to the heating systems, gas meters, and heat meters in the respective boiler rooms. The heat cost allocators are also switched on. All relevant data is compiled and forwarded via the Internet to a central IoT management platform. From there, it can be processed and used to monitor and control the operation of the heating system and to perform remote meter readings. The settings are adjusted in real time, which makes a rapid response possible if temperature adjustments need to be made.

“The Emalytics management platform used here can do more than just connect, automate, and optimize existing conventional central heating systems. The IoT-based management system also integrates regenerative energy generators such as PVs and heat pumps as well as e-mobility charging infrastructures into holistic operating systems, regardless of the manufacturer. As a result, VIVAWEST is prepared to actively shape the energy transition in your properties,” reports Bernhard Tillmanns, Director of Global Industry Management Building Technology, Phoenix Contact Deutschland GmbH.

The solution developed by VIVAWEST and Phoenix Contact can be used no matter the manufacturer, type, or age of the existing heating system. This means that old systems can be supplemented with modern control techniques, such as weather forecasts, and thus save energy immediately after the technology is installed. In the first field test with 400 heating systems, the central control of the heating systems achieved an energy savings of around twelve percent.

Besides uniform lowering in summer and at night, further benefits include transparent consumption data for tenants, real-time consumption information available at any time, and transparent information on system conditions for VIVAWEST. “We can control the systems from the office, use the data to identify impending malfunctions in advance, and assign fitters more efficiently,” says Benjamin Weber, General Manager of VIVAWEST service provider Marienfeld Multimedia.

Due to the positive experience from the first field test, 300 additional heating systems are now equipped with the IoT controller from Phoenix Contact. This was preceded by a joint advancement of the management platform for the control and automated optimization of the plants, so that the VIVAWEST employees in charge can use it much more conveniently and on their own for whatever purposes they require. The aim is also to advance the automation of operations management and develop further applications.

“We expect to be able to increase CO2 reductions even further in the extended project phase. If this and the overall cost-effectiveness of the project are confirmed, we will examine how we can roll out digital building management to cover the entire VIVAWEST portfolio in the coming years,” concludes Uwe Eichner.

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Eva von der Weppen | Corporate Communications