Jackson National Life Insurance Headquarters Building

Havel Brothers Increases Occupant comfort and Building Efficiency with the Help of the S4 Open: BACnet: N2 Router


Technical Solution: S4 Open:BACnet-N2 Router, Tridium

About the Project

Customer Location

Jackson National Life Insurance Headquarters is a five-story building located in Lansing, Michigan. The building has a mixture of cubicles/open offices and conference rooms.

Customer Needs

The customer wanted to be able to retain as much of their JCI system as possible, while at the same time upgrading their control system to Tridium. They had significant investment in JCI VAVs (290 of them) that would be a considerable investment, both in terms of money and time/logistics, to remove all of them and replace them with something different. The S4 Open: BACnet-N2 Routers allowed the customer to retain their investment in JCI VAVs while allowing them to also upgrade the rest of their building automation system to the latest technologies.

Project Goals

One of the goals of the integration was to not lose any features that they had before. A big one was overrides – could they override every damper/valve/fan for troubleshooting purposes?

Another goal was downtime – we did not want to cause any outages or downtime for the customer. We had debated on whether or not we have to perform this work during off-hours because they did not want us to impact operations to their normal business activities. The goal was to cause no major disruptions to their normal business operations while performing this work.

Another requirement was the ability to use information from all of the VMA controllers in # the # sequence of operations. Can we command all VAVs to maximum flow during a smoke purge mode?

The customer wanted to make sure that they could use feedback from all of the VAV controllers to use in static pressure and discharge air temperature reset schedules to reduce energy consumption with the air handling units.

By asking a few simple questions as the project concluded Havel determined that these basic goals were met and exceeded. Can the sequences that they want be achieved? Can they do overrides on all of the outputs? Were there any disruptions to business? Did the integration approach save them money? Etc. In all cases the customer response was a resounding YES! Continue reading to learn the details about how this was accomplished.

Existing system: (4) NCMs and (290) JCI VMA Controllers

Diagram of exsisting system 4VMAs and 290 JCI Controllers

Site Preparation: The customer was very educated with their knowledge of the N2 system that they already had. They already knew before we began work on the system that all of their devices were communicating successfully. We did some quick checking with the ComBus Quick Tester, but it probably wasn’t necessary in this case. As I mention later, when we did the actual network scan using the S4 router, we found a VMA controller that they didn’t know existed.

Transition Strategy: We did utilize the Upstream N2 interface of the S4 devices to have the two systems (the old JCI Metasys and the new Tridium Niagara AX) coexisting for a 1-month transition period. We used this opportunity to train the customer’s staff on what to expect with their new building automation system, meanwhile giving them an opportunity to look back in their JCI system. We also used this to compare naming and other point information between the two control systems. During this process, we actually discovered quite a few inconsistencies that had existed in their system ever since the building was built. These were corrected and updated when we pulled these points into the Tridium system. We even found one VAV that they didn’t even know they had the ability to communicate to.


New System: (290) JCI VMA Controllers, (8) S4 Routers, (3) Niagara JACEs

diagram of Jackson National Life S4  Jace-N2 Solution

The transition to the new solution was pretty seamless. The customer can see, trend, override, and alarm all of their existing VAVs with a much improved graphical user interface provided by the Tridium system.

Jackson National Life Jace N2 Configuration diagram

The VAVs are also compiled and reports are issued that identify outliers or other issues that may need further troubleshooting.

Diagram of Jackson Federal AHU summary diagram

The customer can override all points, they can see and interact with all of their VAVs, and they experienced very little downtime impacting their business operations. The result was a very cost effective solution with value added capabilities almost immediately. Longer term, the stage is set for a smooth migration form the integration solution to current technology field devices that will serve the customer for many years to come.

About Havel Brothers

Havel provides single-source solutions that meet a wide variety of facility design, installation, operation and maintenance requirements. For more than 60 years, we have learned to anticipate operational needs, identify new technology trends, and provide construction services for the mechanical (PHVAC), electrical, building automation systems and energy services industries.

For more information contact
Greg Swihart, Automation Technician (574)596-7950 gswihart@shambaugh.com or

Rod Devries, Sales Manager (269)207-4288 rdevries@shambaugh.com