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Comfy FAQ for Facilities

Comfy is a cloud-based software application that delivers exceptional workplace experiences by enabling people to personalize their workplace environment while providing real-time, actionable insights for workplace leaders.

Comfy integrates with existing building systems that use the BACnet/IP protocol to dynamically change their environment based on the need. Comfy ties with the building’s mechanical system to manage zone temperatures based on occupant feedback. A Comfy user can request an immediate 10 minute stream of warm or cool air through the Comfy mobile or desktop application. Comfy communicates with the BMS to moderately adjust that zone’s temperature and airflow. Over time, Comfy learns the preferences of that zone through machine learning and will automatically adjust the temperature range to better meet the needs of the occupants throughout the day. Comfy shares these findings through Comfy Insights, a business intelligence dashboard that enables corporate real estate leaders to make data-driven decisions that create better workplaces and optimize their facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Doesn’t Comfy increase energy use?

Comfy typically realizes net energy savings. By widening temperature set points and conditioning each zone to demand, Comfy reduces heating and cooling where it’s not needed.

Think of Comfy as one giant PID loop that directly controls the comfort of your occupants. The BMS operates the mechanical system dynamically with a new signal (people) in the overall feedback loop. Over time, Comfy uses machine-learning to tighten the temperature deadbands based on occupant requests and time of use, thereby truly optimizing space comfort while saving HVAC energy of up to 20%.

2. Will Comfy wear out the mechanical system faster due to constant temperature requests?

No. In variable air volume (VAV) systems, damper actuators are constantly moving in response to changes in room temperature, airflow and airflow setpoints. These dampers are built to be opening and closing all the time. What Comfy provides is dynamic temperature setpoints that anticipate the needs of each zone. In fact Comfy may lead to less demand for conditioned air, especially in zones that are typically unoccupied or where the temperature deadbands have been widened, resulting in energy savings and a reduction of wear on the mechanical systems.

3. Will Comfy users have direct access to change the controller?

No, comfort requests are sent to the Comfy cloud, then translated into BACnet commands and sent via our Comfy gateway device to your terminal units. Additionally, Comfy writes to the lowest logical priority array (usually 16), so Comfy can be easily overridden if needed. Users never have direct access to the controller.

4. Can Comfy make changes to the central plant/chiller?

No, Comfy only sends commands to the terminal units and does not touch the chiller plant at all. For systems where AHUs or RTUs serve terminal units downstream, we will typically read-only a status point to determine that the building is “on”. This could be airflow, supply fan status, etc.  Again, we do not write to this point at the AHU equipment level except in specific and rare circumstances, which are always agreed with the customer in advance.

5. Is Comfy just a placebo?

No, Comfy does indeed send BACnet commands to the terminal units to generate short bursts of warm or cool air. It also learns over time and adjusts the deadband accordingly. We offer Comfy Insights to the building managers as a real-time dashboard to see overall usage.

6. My controls contractor says that s/he can create a UI for me that does this very easily. How is Comfy different?

BMS platforms are built to monitor, control, trend, and alarm physical equipment. They are not built to accommodate thousands of simultaneous users and then learn their preferences. Think of Comfy as a great complement to your BMS, where one can not replace the other.  Our team has spent the better part of five years researching, developing, deploying, and fine-tuning the entire Comfy platform over millions of data points for tens of thousands of users. It goes far beyond just creating a simple graphic that allows users to manipulate setpoints in the short term. Comfy operates upon the fact that building occupants generally have no idea what combination of indoor air conditions make them feel comfortable (i.e. space temperature, relative humidity, air changes per hour, direct airflow, radiant temperature, CO2 ppm, etc) - until a BMS can truly incorporate elements of human feedback the way Comfy does, they cannot replicate what we do.

7. What happens if I need to override Comfy setpoints?

Comfy is usually set to the lowest BACnet priority possible so it will be overridden by a direct command to the BMS.

8. Can I view your data via my BMS so I can see and trend what you're doing to my system?

Not currently, but we can talk to you about integration possibilities.

9. How does Comfy interact with my building when it's scheduled to be off? I don't want people to turn the building on through your app.

Comfy does not allow people to schedule your building or enable it during after-hours operation. Our platform will look for a single point (a schedule, AHU status, etc) to indicate that a given area should be occupied. Then and only then do we enable the UI to give users the opportunity to interact with Comfy.

10. How does Comfy impact my optimal start routine?

We do not impact optimal start at all. Optimal start changes the scheduled pre-occupancy start time of your zone and upstream airside equipment, not setpoints. Comfy may impact the space setpoint at the initial time of occupancy, but will not change what time the equipment comes online.

11. Can I export the data from your analytics dashboards to put it alongside my BMS trend data?

While that might someday be incorporated into our platform due to growing user feedback, at present we do not include any export functionality.

12. Do you integrate with my facilities ticketing system to submit tickets automatically?

Not currently. Comfy handles tickets via the Comfy Concierge help desk.  Our support team reviews tickets, and if appropriate, sends them to facilities. This reduces the burden on facilities as they will never receive tickets that are Comfy specific.

13. Who is going to pay my controls contractor to map the BACnet points you need to make your software work?

Comfy works with most major vendors and will not require additional controls work. When controls work is required, the cost is typically minimal and generally born by the buyer.  Comfy will work with the customer to determine the scope.

14. Does the user interface allow access to multiple areas, or is it limited to their general office zone?

Typically end users are provided access to their entire office including open office spaces, conference rooms, and other common areas. Such access is customizable. For example, access can be divided up by tenant for floors with multiple tenants and access to private offices can be limited.

15. If you have access to the central BMS, can’t you access all HVAC units in the building, even on floors that Comfy isn’t installed in?

Typically all devices in a BACnet control system are able to communicate with all other devices in that system. Comfy does not access equipment at the central plant or in areas where Comfy is not authorized, and puts strict security controls in place to prevent improper access. Should a client wish to guarantee that we cannot access certain equipment, we can work with their IT team to restrict BACnet/IP traffic to the Comfy Gateway device using either an IP firewall or a BACnet gateway.