October 8, 2008

Green Software Helps Bank Keep Its Cool ; Bank of America Control Center Monitors 700 Branches’ Energy Use



Every office has its thermostat watchers. The people monitoring energy efficiency at 700 Bank of America branches nationwide work on the fifth floor of a Charlotte, N.C., office building.

Bank of America calls the facility "IC3" - shorthand for intelligent command-and-control center. Four technicians monitor computer screens that transmit data from those 700 branches' HVAC units, keeping an eye out for energy waste.

Derek Johnson, program manager of the year-old center, recalls watching the screens and thinking, "There's got to be a way to transform this data into something that's more useful."

So Bank of America invested in a Pennsylvania company, Field Diagnostics Inc., which provides software that analyzes how hard each air conditioner works.

The 14-year-old company provides software that allows big energy users to monitor the performance of their air conditioning equipment at thousands of locations simultaneously. The data can be used to cut energy costs by as much as 50 percent.

Field Diagnostics installs additional sensors in the HVAC systems at each bank location. Software at its main office analyzes the data to identify which units run longer than is normal given the outdoor temperature, a red flag for poor performance. That could trigger a maintenance call the next time technicians are in the area.

"We're trying to reduce our carbon footprint, but it's also going to save us money," Johnson said.

Bank of America bought a minority stake in the company, and its investment enabled Field Diagnostics to accelerate the roll-out of the system. So far, it's monitoring about 700 of 3,300 planned locations, including nine in Boston and two in Quincy.

Steve Adams may be reached at [email protected]

Originally published by By STEVE ADAMS, The Patriot Ledger.

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