Catalyst Partners makes its HQ a living demo for sustainable buildings

Allen Austin, ABB

Catalyst President Keith Winn is one of the founding members of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It’s not surprising, then, that his company helps clients to meet the requirements of LEED and other green building standards.

Catalyst focuses on energy efficiency services including auditing, modeling, and incentives and aims to become a supplier of choice on sustainable building projects. These typically require energy management, water metering, advanced energy metering, and energy performance optimization.

In 2020, the company set out to make its Grand Rapids, Michigan headquarters a showcase for the required sustainable technology.

Catalyst Partners’ rooftop solar array

Solar PV generation supplies 20 percent of the site’s power, reducing utility bills, but Catalyst needs to implement at least three energy conservation measures to reduce their Energy Use Intensity (EUI). Their hope is to reduce the building’s EUI by roughly 15% beyond the current level, which is already LEED Platinum certified.

When the reductions are dialed in, Catalyst plans to repurpose its 10-year-old solar system, replacing it with an updated system with sufficient annual production to achieve their 2030 net-positive goal.

“We had a metering system in place, but it failed and by then it was even out of production, so we needed something new,” recalls Kyle Rieth, Commissioning Authority and Energy Assessor at Catalyst Partners.

Catalyst turned to ABB, which installed a CMS-700 circuit monitoring system, enabling multi-channel measurement in AC and DC circuits. The CMS-700 consists of a control unit and sensors, allowing easy monitoring of the individual lines of a facility using any of several industry standard communication protocols.

ABB’s Ekip E-hub gathers the data (and optionally sends it to cloud-based storage where it can be accessed by any number of applications). Catalyst elected to use ABB Ability Energy and Asset Manager for the monitoring and control interface to understand what electricity is supplied by the utility vs. that by their solar panels. The new equipment was integrated with existing devices like circuit breakers.

“ABB also helped with installation remotely which was a big help since the pandemic prevented us from having more people on site,” notes Rieth.

With the ABB system in place, Catalyst is now able to track progress toward their net-zero electricity goal and is using Energy & Asset Manager’s analytics to optimize operations of the solar plant in relation to energy use in the building.

“We inform the design of buildings with energy modeling tools,” says Rieth. “ABB enables us to measure and verify targets have been achieved.”

Source: Renewable Energy