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McMaster embraces HVAC building automation platform to achieve better efficiency and building management

March 26, 2024  By  Anthony Capkun

Thermal management technology supports building modernization at McMaster University.

March 26, 2024 – McMaster University wanted to upgrade many of its buildings to a flexible control platform to ensure better efficiency and building management, while simplifying the control of things such as air quality, temperature, and carbon emissions.

The challenge lay in migrating legacy systems across campus—some with 1960s technology—and newly constructed, digitally enabled buildings.

“To ensure interoperability, it was important to choose systems that can align with all environmental requirements and specificities,” said Alvin Baldovino, director, Engineering Operations, at the university.

McMaster turned to Carmichael Engineering Ltd. (which has been providing the university with mechanical and building automation services over 25 years) to help it improve energy efficiency, enhance user adaptability, and better utilize technology in locations across campus.


Carmichael turned to an HVAC building automation platform from ABB for the project.

Five of the university’s facilities are now either using or developing smart building solutions, with hardware support from the manufacturer. Facilities include the McMaster Museum of Art; select campus laboratories (including a lab with a high-resolution electron microscope); and the McLean Centre for Collaborative Discovery.

In the museum, maintaining precise air quality, humidity, and temperature levels is crucial for artwork preservation. Sensors that are integrated into the BAS set off alarms whenever they detect any deviation from set environmental parameters. The upgraded platform also offers a user-friendly operational environment for staff.

Similarly, the high-resolution electron microscope lab requires very precise setpoints for temperature and humidity. Again, the HVAC platform maintains the required environment and allows users to monitor critical parameters.

The McLean Centre for Collaborative Discovery is a new 10-storey facility currently being built on McMaster’s campus. It will employ hardware that enables all building systems to communicate and gather data, which will aid in systems reporting and improve maintenance.

“These solutions are highly versatile and can suit all environments, which yields innovation and significant value,” said Robert Forest, manager, Projects and Digital Controls, with Carmichael.

Overall, the upgrades and improvements result in enhanced energy conservation and decarbonization efforts for the university.

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