Indoor Air Quality

Helping McMaster University Adapt its Buildings for the Future

McMaster University is using technology to better control and manage its legacy thermal systems and create smarter buildings. Carmichael Engineering Ltd., a Canadian systems integrator, worked closely with ABB Canada’s leading experts and its highly adaptable smart building platform, ABB Cylon®, to improve energy efficiency, enhance user adaptability, and leverage innovative technologies in locations across campus.

The Challenge

McMaster University wanted to upgrade many of its buildings to a flexible control platform to ensure better efficiency and building management, while simplifying control of elements such as air quality, temperature, and carbon emissions. McMaster’s challenge lay in migrating legacy systems across campus, some with 1960s technology, and newly constructed digitally enabled smart buildings.

To ensure interoperability, it was important to choose systems that can align with all environmental requirements and specificities,” explains Alvin Baldovino, Director of Engineering Operations at McMaster University.

The Goal

The engineering team at Carmichael, which has been providing McMaster University mechanical and building automation services over 25 years, turned to ABB’s cutting-edge HVAC building automation platform, ABB Cylon®, as it knew the platform’s flexibility was ideal for such a complex and extensive project. Robert Forest, Carmichael’s Manager of Projects and Digital Digital Controls, sums it up: "If you use your imagination and engineering skills, ABB solutions can be used well beyond their initial purpose. These solutions are highly versatile and can suit all environments, which yields innovation and significant value."

The ABB smart building platform is so adaptable because it can deliver a user-friendly and efficient system that converges multiple technologies in multiple buildings.

The Solutions

Five of the University’s facilities are now either using or developing innovative smart building solutions with ABB hardware support for such a transition. Facilities include the McMaster Museum of Art; select campus laboratories, including a lab with the high-resolution electron microscope; and the under-construction McLean Centre for Collaborative Discovery.

Preserving Works of Art

Transitioning to ABB controls has brought many benefits to the McMaster Museum of Art. With so many works of art inside the museum, maintaining precise air quality, humidity, and temperature levels is crucial for artwork preservation. Using ABB technology, sensors were integrated into the building automation system, and any deviation from set environmental parameters now sets off alarms. The upgraded platform also offers a more user-friendly operational environment for staff, facilitating efficient data comprehension, which translates into significant efficiency gains and plays a critical role in risk mitigation.

Microscope: Preserving Precision Research

McMaster University is home to one of the highest-resolution electron microscopes in the world. The microscope requires extremely tight tolerance for temperature and humidity. ABB Cylon® efficiently maintains the environment and allows users to monitor critical parameters precisely.

The McLean Centre for Collaborative Discovery, a next-level smart building in progress

The McLean Centre for Collaborative Discovery, a 10-storey facility that is currently being built on McMaster’s campus, aims to be one of the University’s most sophisticated and sustainable buildings. The building will use ABB hardware to enable all systems to communicate and gather data, thereby facilitating reporting and resulting in prompt maintenance.

The Results

Local innovation, global impact: With creating safer, energy-efficient, and user-friendly environments in mind, Carmichael adapted ABB's smart building platform to create substantial outcomes for McMaster University, including:

  • Safer environments: Real-time building status information and alarms enabled timely repairs and maintenance, ensuring the safety of staff and students.
  • Energy efficiency: ABB's cutting-edge technology, coupled with the user-friendly approach, streamlined operations, and continues to result in enhanced energy conservation and decarbonization efforts.

The modernization of legacy systems and the creation of smart buildings with ABB's innovative solutions exemplify the transformative potential of technology in educational institutions. The collective impact will lead to a more sustainable, energy-efficient, and user-friendly global environment.