Green cities growing, becoming marketable

The New Economy speaks with Erhard Dobler of building solutions consultancy firm Delta Controls

For over 30 years Delta Controls has provided dependable and user-friendly building control solutions to clients. Who are the company’s clients and what gives Delta Control the edge over competing companies?
There are many types of organisations involved in the delivery of a building control solution. Our immediate clients are a network of over 250 organisations we call “partners” spread across more than 80 countries. Partners are selected, trained and approved to distribute and install our products typically into non-residential buildings such as offices, hospitals and schools.

What gives us our competitive edge? Well, I could talk about the many industry firsts and technical innovations we have had over the years in the fields of open protocols, integrated systems and IT technologies, but the root of our success is our business approach. Delta Controls has a very straight-forward and down-to-earth value message which has been the same for almost three decades: “Do it right”. I firmly believe this mantra is the root cause of the successes we have enjoyed over the years.

Delta Controls uses energy dashboards with cloud-based analytics. How exactly is this beneficial to clients? And what is so special about it?
Delta actually offers energy dashboards and analytics either as a local application or as a remote cloud-based application. Customers are free to choose their preferred approach, but the ultimate benefit is saving money while maintaining occupant comfort. Buildings are intelligent complex structures full of constantly changing data which needs to be collected, analysed and subsequently acted upon. The end goal is to change the building’s operation and consequently reduce energy consumption.

The enterprise level of management is becoming more important in today’s reality of rising energy costs and choices of alternate energy sources. The key to success is to recognise that dashboards need to be immediate, simple, and concise yet automatically indicate to the operator what actions need to take place to improve any situation. Speed and accuracy are of the essence with a complete disregard of geographical barriers.

Cloud-based analytics taps into the web, the fastest growing technology in history. The internet breaks down many barriers and has had a profound impact on the building automation market. Our industry often forgets that the key to delivering peak efficiency lies in the initial commissioning and then the continued follow-up over the life-cycle of the building and system. For this reason Delta provides automated analytic services for on-going commissioning to guarantee optimum performance.

What are some of the most impressive projects Delta Controls has been involved in? Which type of technology is being used to enhance client experience and satisfaction?
I am always impressed when I hear of projects outside of the US showcasing the global reach of a company which started from humble beginnings 30 years ago. You can imagine I look at these achievements with some pride. For example, this summer, if you watch the European Football Championships in Ukraine and Poland, chances are, some of the matches will take place in a stadium controlled by Delta Controls equipment.

One of our most impressive projects is located in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Masdar City is a “Green City”, and a showpiece of environmental conservation for the region. Within the Delta Controls solution are intelligent energy saving fan coil units which deliver very significant savings in energy usage. Fans deliver air and control valves deliver water without the need for expensive measuring and without the adjustment of mechanical flow restriction devices. Significant energy savings are delivered by virtue of the reduced motor speeds.

Intelligent setback algorithms allow energy loading to be reduced still further to produce even greater savings throughout the lifecycle of the building.

Energy costs are continually increasing and environmental issues are continuing to be a major concern. How does the ‘Earthright Energy’ management solution help clients? What makes this solution so unique?
Earthright is an integral part of Delta Controls’ core value of “Do it right”; part of doing it right is doing it in an Earthright manner. Not only are our products “green”, but as a corporation, we take our corporate social responsibility seriously. Earthright not only reflects the objectives of our products, it reflects the objectives of our organisation.

Our ‘Earthright Energy’ management solution is a simple and concise way of reflecting your building’s energy consumption and conservation, energy savings and commitment to sustainability. The dashboard has the detail and complexity to meet the needs of both the operating engineers and the CEO in obtaining the optimal efficiency possible from a building and its associated systems. It also has an easy-to-implement kiosk mode to showcase your energy conservation measures and to educate building occupants to encourage their active participation in obtaining your sustainability goals.

Delta Controls provides educational forums that teaches clients and keeps them updated on developments. How does Delta Controls go about organising those and who are they aimed at?
Delta Controls is a major contributor to many industry forums, but not only those concerned with BACnet and its future development; we also have a very active face-to-face campaign where we present seminars to system integrators and end-users. We also participate in the ongoing education of consultants and specifying engineers by providing brand-neutral training and information seminars that comply with the regulations laid down by regional organisations. In addition, Delta Controls produces training materials in conjunction with the relevant industry body (e.g. ASHRAE, CIBSE, etc.) and once approved will then organise training seminars for consultants, contractors, systems integrators and end-users.

How does Delta Controls keep up with the fast-moving technology developments and how does it ensure clients are made aware and kept up-to date?
Delta Controls is an active participant in international industry associations such as ISO, ASHRAE, BACnet International and various other regional associations. The company has also partnered with several institutes and universities to participate in and sponsor research of new horizon technologies. Again, part of “Do it right”, includes the investment in time and money towards our education system and innovation as a whole.

We expend, depending on the year, anywhere from 17-20 percent of revenues on R&D, which is a major commitment, particularly in our industry. Our research department is full of some great minds that I am extremely proud to work with. Delta Controls’ research team works with clients, partners, suppliers and institutions to look at the latest technologies and see how they can be applied to the benefit of our end users and their buildings.

Are there any exciting projects or developments in the pipeline for Delta Controls?
I am always excited by the innovations our development team have in the pipeline and the continual innovation the team shows is hugely impressive. This innovation should be the pulse of any vibrant company,  and the method with which end users interact with our system is essential to the successful implementation of a building controls system.

As technology races forward with wall-mounted touchscreen technology, internet and web-based applications, and portable devices such as tablets and smartphones, we are continually working on ways in which our users can use these innovations within their Delta Controls building controls system.Finally, the company continues to move its services into the Cloud and will be providing ground-breaking services for continuous commissioning and exception reporting for building services. All very exciting stuff and great fun to be around.

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