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The City of Toronto Goes All in With FIN

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The City of Toronto is using FIN Framework to align an array of new and legacy BAS brands across its real estate portfolio to make implementation and management simpler and more efficient. 

Over the past two decades, the portfolio of technologies, controls, and tools within the City of Toronto’s real estate has become increasingly diverse. With many ageing systems, including most BAS brands, and many new systems implemented during new builds and capital retrofits, day-to-day management (from operation to repair and replacement) had become complex and expensive.

In 2012 the City of Toronto’s Environment and Energy Division (since renamed Energy and Climate) developed standard Building Automation System (BAS) requirements focused on leveraging city network infrastructure to provide remote access to operational staff. By 2015 the preference was centralization in lieu of stand-alone server webpages.

In 2018, enterprise BAS integration options were reviewed and two leading providers, were piloted in data-centre environments. By 2019 formal Corporate Real Estate Management (CREM) objectives focused on centralization of services and systems strengthened the business case for a unified approach to BAS.

In Q4 2019, FIN Framework was adopted by CREM as the primary integration front-end for new builds and major retrofits.

The benefit of FIN Framework as a smart open platform

As a government organization, all procurement is competitively bid, and it was essential that the platform chosen was effectively ‘vendor agnostic’ and could be used to integrate the City’s new and legacy systems.

FIN was implemented by CREM. J2 Innovations’ technology has also been used to centralize other City of Toronto real estate – including Long Term Care Homes (LTCH), Parks Forestry and Recreation (PFR) & Toronto Water (TW).

City of Toronto facility operations staff are increasingly called on to address issues in buildings they have little experience with. The ease of remote access and standardization that a centralized single sign-on portal brings has been crucial to finding the efficiencies needed to meet expectations going forward.

''I don’t tend to think of our BAS requirements and central servers as individual projects, but rather as an ongoing and evolving program. Corporate Real Estate Management (CREM) has implemented and invested in FIN as the platform for the program.'' - Daniel Pelletier Senior Project Manager, Building Automation Systems.

The benefits cover many bases:

  • User experience: Using FIN offers flexibility and efficiency through ease of access, fewer systems to learn, fewer user credentials and URLs to keep track of, and less travel. When the CREM BAS center of expertise has visibility/access then operations can effectively consult on specific issues to either resolve the issue or determine which service vendor is most appropriate.
  • Operations: The efficiency in having one platform on which the BAS systems sit benefits the City’s building occupants through faster diagnosis and response times to issues. This also means there is more efficient use of staff time, fuel cost reduction, and emission/carbon reduction.
  • Capital projects: Consultants can remotely access the BAS to review project progress and commission systems throughout the project execution, rather than just once before closeout when it might be too late to properly rectify deficiencies.
  • Control: City of Toronto directly controls user access (for staff and for third parties) and is not reliant on 3rd parties for simple changes. The City has a centralized on-premises trend data archive, and service vendors can sometimes address issues remotely without having to be onsite.
  • Reporting: The City can assess outcomes achieved and review any metrics or data showing success and positive impacts. There has been an increase in the use of BAS to identify and troubleshoot issues.

"Yorkland Controls Limited is pleased to have played a small part in assisting the City of Toronto's CREM BAS team. We offered a ‘smart building’ enterprise solution using a combination of proven technology and executed by a qualified network of systems integrators such as Automated Controls and Engineering Solutions (A.C.E). A.C.E conducted the original setup, and supports all the software upgrades/patches to date. Congratulations goes out the CREM BAS team for developing the vision and the plan to continue to meet their BAS operational objectives." - Gerry Cellucci, Vice President, Systems Solutions, Yorkland Controls

Outcomes

As of January 1, 2024, 38 buildings had been fully integrated to FIN, with four more to be completed in Q1 2024. There has been positive feedback from Facilities Management managers, supervisors and operators, and interest/adoption across multiple City of Toronto divisions. In addition, there have been increased inquiries from operational staff about the provision of more centralization and remote access.

"ACE worked closely with the City of Toronto IT to configure local and enterprise networks for FIN to be accessed locally and remotely. ACE integrated more than 20 buildings in the new FIN server and created standards for other contractors to use for integrating future buildings. We at ACE feel very proud to work with the CREM BAS team and happy to help the City of Toronto build a system that saves energy, saves the environment, and keeps city buildings comfortable working on them." - Gezim Berisha B.Eng., B.Tech., C.E.T Director, Automated Controls and Energy Solutions Group Inc.

Future-proofing the investment in FIN Framework

J2 Innovations is part of the ecosystem that provides training and support for FIN technology that supports the City’s work to affect a fair and equitable procurement environment. FIN further supports the City’s desire to utilize open protocols (e.g. BACnet) and support open data standards such as Project Haystack. As part of our openness and spirit of collaboration, J2 is willing to work with any vendors meeting specific qualifications and requirements.

A future project is to utilize FIN's historical database for enhanced Analytics leveraging the built-in metadata to identify efficiencies over time.

Check out the Case Study here.

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Topics from this blog: Case study FIN Edge2Cloud Smart Buildings Energy management FIN Framework Building Automation System BAS

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