Room automation and air conditioning

The air conditioning and the acoustics in the “Great Hall” harmonise as the room climate largely contributes to the unique sound experience.

Building automation

DIGICONTROL systems by GFR are solely used for building automation in all areas of the building complex.

Technical Facility Management

The building management platform WEBVISION and the energy data management WEBENCON ensure a safe and efficient operation of the building.

Forward-looking solutions for room automation, building automation and technical facility management

Systems by GFR are solely used for building automation in the entire building complex.  
5,210 DIGICONTROL sensors and actuators by GFR, 89,000 communication points and 648 kilometres of automation cable are required to automate the efficient energy-, heating- and cooling centres, the ventilation centrals with about 940,000 m³ of air, the 425 rooms and the multi-storey car park.

DIGICONTROL automation systems
GFR was in charge of the building automation which stretched from the manufacturing of the control cabinets, via the installation service to the programming and configuration of the system. The project engineers of GFR have been involved in the Elbphilarmonie project since 2009 and are providing on-site support for the building operator.
The building automation network has been structured extremely failure-proof and consists of IP networks and security networks. Those networks cannot be explained in detail because of safety reasons.
A total number of 100 air-conditioning systems are controlled. They contain 260 fans, 1,900 fire dampers and about 600 smoke extraction and multi-leaf dampers. 425 single room controls for various room zones that meet individual requirements are contained in the complete system.  Furthermore, cold water production with control of the cooling water supply from Elbe water and a system of deep wells is operated by GFR technology.

Automation and management systems

Two separate building management systems, “WEBVISION” and the energy data management system WEBENCON are used. They can be operated from six distributed locations.
A total number of 384 DIGICONTROL ems2.CP04D BACnet building controllers (B-BC) and three automated fibre-optic ring bus systems with a total of 660 participants and 77 frequency converters that communicate via BACnet MS/TP are integrated into the building network.

All smoke extraction systems in the concert halls, the hotel, the luxury flats and the other areas are controlled by means of multi-leaf dampers. The monitoring of the energy consumption is performed via the embedded MBus and KNX systems. Required third party software, like the hotel management software “Fidelio“, was integrated.  
GFR was in charge of connecting all control capabilities of the installed equipment and responsible for all services in the field of communication and automation.

Air conditioning and acoustics in the Great Hall
The Great Hall, which is hermetically and sonically sealed, is the heart of the Elbphilharmonie. 2,100 seats are upwardly arranged like vineyard terraces around the centrally located stage. This arrangement ensures that no listener is further than 30 metres away from the conductor. Air conditioning and acoustics have to harmonise particularly well because the indoor temperature and humidity play a significant role for the perfect sound of the instruments and the organ, the performance of the artists, the “white skin“, the audience and the music experience.

Special features of the air-conditioning devices
The Great Hall is supplied with conditioned air by two air-conditioning devices. The air conditioners are furnished with the functions heating, cooling, humidifying and dehumidifying. A cutting-edge soundproof air duct network spans the concert hall in the area of the external shell.
The two air-conditioning devices that are responsible for the Great Hall are equipped with a heat recovery system. These systems are able to recover heat as well as cold and use both alternatively. Control strategies in the automation station programs ensure a precise control of the mass flow in the HVAC system. The right decisions for switching processes following different criteria in accordance with air conditioning principles in the h-x-diagram have to be made. The adiabatic cooling in the exhaust air flow is used for cooling down the drawn-in outdoor air which reduces the mechanical cooling demand. By doing so, a considerable heat recovery from the exhaust air volumetric flow can be achieved when cold outdoor air is drawn in.
The ventilation system of the Great Hall is generously equipped with a total air volume of 130,000 m³/h. When cold and very dry air is sucked in, the air has to be humidified as otherwise the parquet flooring and musical instruments could be damaged. The adiabatic cooling effect that is accompanying the spray humidification has to be controlled with suitable algorithms for dosing the heat energy while minimising water losses. The necessary algorithms for that purpose are stored in the automation station programs.

Smoke extraction as special operating mode
If a risk of fire is detected, a large-scale scenario of system deactivations will be enabled in the entire building. Evacuation measures are taken and, if the concert hall is affected, the compulsive smoke extraction will be switched on. Nine special air-conditioning devices for rinsing and extracting the smoke are actuated with an air flow rate of 600,000m³/h. The air-conditioning devices are sealed off by dampers and are switched off, like other plants, in case of fire alarm.

Actuators and sensors
By means of 16 volume flow controllers, the conditioned air is brought into specifically designed supply air plenums under the seats of the concert hall and escapes via the outlets under the rows of seats. The close proximity of the outlets to the guests is a particular challenge. The air has to be conditioned in such a way that all comfort criteria are met. None of the guests shall complain about a draught, even if the concert hall is fully occupied. The indoor climate in the hall must be held stable at the same time. The measuring technology for the air conditioning was elaborately designed. The temperature is measured in the entire supply air flow.  Temperature sensors and indoor humidity sensors are installed at all relevant locations in the white skin of the concert hall. There are also various measuring points for monitoring the CO2 concentration. An exact image of the room is provided in this way.


Requirements on operating modes of the Great Hall
There is a large number of operating modes in accordance with the utilisation plans for the Great Hall. These operating modes are enabled by comprehensive equipment with sensors and controlling actuators of the volume flow regulator. If the hall and the audience seats are fully occupied or if just some musicians are rehearsing, the air quality in the hall has to remain well-conditioned.  Changes only result from small air quantities during rehearsals and recordings with a smaller number of people. Rest periods during non-usage periods also occur in the utilisation profiles. In this case, a room conditioning only takes place if the limiting values for the indoor climate have been violated. Then the air-conditioning devices are operated until the limits of the indoor climate are reached again. The operation modes are combined and selected in the programs of the automation station according to the requirements. Control variables are defined though the individual weightings of the measured values which are relevant for the current control. These control variables are transferred to the control of the air-conditioning devices as set point values. Different strategies and scenarios are considered in the actuator-sensor programs. This includes the calculation of start-up times for the conditioning with one of the predefined operation modes in the concert hall before the utilisation time starts. Another example is the conditioning of the indoor climate considering a gradient in which the indoor climate may change in order to reach the target condition.

Control of ventilation and air-conditioning technology
After the requirements for the air condition in the Great Hall have been calculated appropriately, the respective values will be transmitted to both air-conditioning plants. Both air-conditioning plants are always in operation, with one exception. One plant is in charge of calculating the supply air conditions and acts as master for the purpose of operating both devices synchronously. The other plant follows as slave until the utilisation is ended by switching off the plant or till the master device fails due to a malfunction. The properly working system will seamlessly take over the operation then. It accesses the calculated operating parameters of the air conditioning at the outlet of the device for this purpose. In case of a repair of the faulty machine during running operation, this system will also take over the operation while using the current parameters. In order to save energy, the air-conditioning devices can be adjusted in their performance by using frequency converters.  If the frequency converters stop functioning, a bypass circuit will ensure mains operation until the defective component has been repaired.

BACnet-MS/TP communication
The frequency converters of the air-conditioning devices are supplied with switching commands and actuating signals from the controller. The conventional enabling by means of digital switching outputs and analogue actuating signals was not required.  The communicative linking supplied the operational data of the converters, like current performance, power consumption, accurate rotation speed, etc. The BACnet-MS/TP standard is used as protocol. Classical mechanical protective measures are used for protecting the plant in the last instance.

Conclusion
The building automation in the Elbphilarmonie is the control centre of the technical building services. It combines different trades and allows to keep an eye on all technical building automation systems and to simultaneously control the devices. The Great Hall is exemplary and ideal. The responsibility of GFR exceeded the integration of HVAC technology by far. The energy data management system was integrated and the employees of the operator were trained on site.

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