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ARRA Building Retuning

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Building Re-tuning Interactive Web-Based Training

Many online classes provide screens of text followed by a quick quiz. While relatively easy to implement, this approach is not conducive to works against the student’s natural learning patterns, and retention of the material is often minimal. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has developed a cognitive-based, student-centered approach to training that is being applied to interactive, online learning development. This innovative training approach integrates multimedia technology in realistic scenario-based examples that promote student participation rather than the passive "page turning" used in conventional training. The focus is on challenging learners in activities and environments that mimic those they will find in their workplace. This helps the learners "buy in" to the purpose of the training, thus increasing motivation to learn. There two e-learning training courses: 1) Re-tuning for Buildings with Building Automation Systems (BASs) and 2) Re-tuning for Building without BASs.

These e-learning courses teach how to assess buildings’ energy needs, identify opportunities for improvement, and implement low-cost changes to reduce overall energy consumption. Working closely with subject matter experts who also conduct Building Re-tuning classroom training, the e-learning development team has created a "hands-on" course that utilizes the best elements of classroom and field training to deliver engaging, virtual learning activities.

Participants are actively involved in scenarios that mimic activities and challenges they would find in the workplace. In one exercise, they get to know the "personality" of a virtual building, collecting pertinent information and analyzing data to detect energy-consuming trends that could be adjusted to decrease costs. In another exercise, students participate in a virtual building walk-down alongside a building manager, who guides them as they inspect the building’s exterior and interior. The students hear from building occupants and examine equipment and rooms in several key areas of the building to identify potential opportunities for improvement.

Key concepts in the course are presented several times and in a variety of ways to improve retention of these concepts and to let participants experience the material in more than one context. This combination of presentation formats (text, graphics, animations, and interactions) helps maximize not only student engagement but also instructional effectiveness. For example, trend graphs are introduced via text and then graphically displayed as static images and animations in the training for buildings with BASs. Later, students have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding by interacting with trend graphs and determining what the graphs reveal. The ultimate goal is to modify behavior as they transition from the e-learning course to real-world practice in their workplaces.

At the end of the course, rather than taking the standard multiple-choice final exam, students participate in a final, interactive re-tuning exercise that draws on all of the information and techniques they’ve gathered throughout the course. They’ll use the information they’ve collected about the building—the trend data, the input from building occupants, the types of equipment used, etc.—to formulate a re-tuning approach that works for this particular building. In the end, they will take their newly acquired knowledge and techniques back with them to reduce energy consumption and costs in their own buildings and projects.

Re-tuning for Buildings with Building Automation Systems

The purpose of this course is to enable students to reduce operating costs and provide energy savings to the building you are responsible for. The knowledge and skills learned here are highly valued in the energy, controls, HVAC, green, and sustainability industries.

Throughout this course, the student will learn the initial steps involved in re-tuning a building with a BAS. Interactive exercises are included to provide "hands-on" practice with the re-tuning process within a virtual building. The student will practice identifying opportunities for energy improvement and then deciding how to re-tune for more efficiency. In some examples, trend graphs will be utilized from the BAS to help understand how the data can aid in identifying potential opportunities for improvement.

Re-tuning for Buildings without Building Automation Systems

Like Re-tuning for Buildings with Building Automation Systems, the purpose of this course is to enable you to reduce operating cost and provide energy savings to the building you are responsible for. However, the focus is on buildings that do not have a building automation system. The measures identified in this on-site training course are more prescriptive in nature, and the buildings are primarily served by packaged equipment. If your commercial building employs a building automation system, then the other course may be more appropriate for your needs.

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