Maximize Efficiency in Commercial Buildings
Wireless Thermostats Provide Cost-Effective
Upgrade for Pneumatic Controls
Are your building’s pneu- matic HVAC controls beginning to feel like old clunkers compared to flashy digital controls? If so, an upgrade with wireless pneumatic thermostats (WPTs) may
usher your building into the modern age
while reducing energy costs. According to
a study of a WPT installation at a GSA office building, the return on investment for
such upgrades can be as low as two years.
Both conventional pneumatic thermostats and WPTs have space temperature
sensors and the ability to send information via the existing pneumatic tubing.
However, the WPT devices have a
wireless connection to a central energy
As a result,
can only have
someone at the device. Converting such
thermostats to direct digital controls
(DDC) is typically cost prohibitive.
Pneumatic controls are typically found
in multistory buildings built before 1999
and containing more than 20,000 square
feet. Buildings of this size are likely to
have central plants with zone thermostat
controls, while smaller buildings tend
to rely on rooftop or packaged units that
directly serve the space below or adjacent
to the unit. Within GSA’s portfolio, some
20% of the buildings have HVAC systems
operated by pneumatic controls, and all
of them are subject to the same energy
mandates as all other federal buildings.
For several reasons, the GSA’s Woodrow
WIRELESS REPEATERS, shown here on the fifth
floor, help transmit wireless signals between
thermostats and the central controller.
continued on page 13
THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER, part of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., served as the test site for wireless
pneumatic thermostats. Test results indicate an ROI of as low as two years.
Wilson Center (WWC) in Washington,
D.C., was selected as the test site for
the WPT technology. The building’s
HVAC system is operated by relatively
new (1998) pneumatic controls in good
operating condition. The WWC has
a variety of office spaces, including
individual offices, conference rooms,
open cubicles, and common areas. This
mix is typical of the majority of facilities
in GSA’s portfolio. With no secure areas
that were off limits, researchers were
free to install data loggers and take
measurements in all areas.
The results of the installation at
the WWC were used as the basis for
computer modeling of the potential