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Modular Building Institute

Best Practices in BAS/Controls

May 1, 2007
In an effort to reward best practices in the design and ownership of building-automation systems and controls, HPAC Engineering is proud to present, for

In an effort to reward best practices in the design and ownership of building-automation systems and controls, HPAC Engineering is proud to present, for the first time, the Networked Controls Leadership Awards.

HPAC Engineering wishes to thank the awards' sponsor, the HVAC Products Division of Siemens Building Technologies Inc.; the judges; and all of those who submitted entries. On the pages that follow are summaries of the winning projects in the awards' four categories, followed by summaries of projects receiving honorable mention.

Congratulations to all.

Design for New Construction

In recognition of superior teamwork demonstrated by a building owner and design firm on a new-construction project more than 10,000 sq ft in size in North America occupied between Nov. 1, 2004, and Oct. 31, 2006.

Ministry Health Care

HGA Architects and Engineers Inc.

Saint Clare's Hospital, Weston, Wis.

In a joint venture with Marshfield Clinic, Ministry Health Care acquired 56 acres along Highway 29 in Marathon County to develop a 104-bed hospital and 40-physician medical office building. HGA Architects and Engineers Inc. was hired to perform a best-land-use assessment, develop a master plan, and ultimately program and design the hospital. A key objective was the creation of a state-of-the-art all-digital environment.

The Ministry Health Care facilities staff challenged the HGA engineering team to:

  • Integrate building systems so that fire, security, and other systems can communicate directly with the building-automation system (BAS).

  • Consolidate systems to avoid the purchase of redundant equipment.

  • Integrate other systems and components, including vertical transportation, nurse call, power monitoring, pneumatic tube, and select medical equipment, into the building-management system (BMS).

HGA's design team produced Division 17 bid documents, which included card access, security management, infant protection, patient wandering, fire alarm, closed-circuit television, HVAC controls, and cabling infrastructure for building systems, along with all of the telecommunications cabling. BMS hardware, installation, wiring, terminations, software, programming, commissioning systems, and project management were included in the scope of the bid documents.

Ministry Health Care's most critical requirements were that all of the systems reside on a single cabling and communications backbone and that they share information. This had to be done with minimal effect on the budget and absolutely no effect on the schedule. To minimize the effect on the budget, a single cabling contractor was hired, reducing the duplication of cabling. This is estimated to have saved more than enough to cover the added cost of integrating the systems. To avoid impacting the schedule, a single contractor was hired to handle the cabling, controls, and integration.

As the project neared completion and an operations-and-maintenance (O&M) staff was assembled, the design and installation team worked with Ministry Health Care to provide hands-on training. The sessions were videotaped for future reference and training of future hires. As part of the training, the new O&M staff was present as the BAS was commissioned. A year later, the BAS was recommissioned to address operational concerns and to retrain the staff.

Saint Clare's became one of the first hospitals in the United States to have a fully integrated control system. Of note is the system's use of graphics and spreadsheets, which were designed to allow ease of navigation and to simplify operation of the building.

Design for Retrofit or Replacement

In recognition of superior teamwork demonstrated by a building owner and design firm in retrofitting or replacing a building-automation system in a building more than 10,000 sq ft in size in North America between Nov. 1, 2004, and Oct. 31, 2006.

U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, D.C.

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Princeton, N.J.

Lyman Spitzer Building, Plainsboro, N.J.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by Princeton University, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is a collaborative national center for plasma and fusion science. Its primary mission is to develop scientific understanding and key innovations leading to an attractive fusion-energy source. Among the buildings on the PPPL campus is the three-story, 111,943-sq-ft Lyman Spitzer Building (LSB).

The majority of the LSB's 85 pneumatically controlled variable-air-volume (VAV) units, installed 26 years earlier, were not functioning properly. VAV zones did not have the proper temperature or air-volume control. Comfort complaints required visits from HVAC technicians.

Previously, pneumatically controlled inlet vanes on the eight VAV-system fans were replaced with direct-digitally-controlled (DDC) variable-frequency drives, saving an estimated $52,000 a year at current energy costs. The 85 VAV units were retrofitted with terminal equipment controllers (TECs), flow-control dampers with integral flow stations, electric damper actuators, electronic-current-to-pneumatic converters for reheat valves, discharge-air-temperature sensors, and DDC VAV-zone temperature sensors, saving an additional $57,000 a year, bringing current total estimated energy savings to $109,000 a year.

The building-automation system (BAS) is made user-friendly by dynamic graphics for each VAV system and for each floor. HVAC technicians now can view systems before making a service call. Also, if any point fails or a zone temperature is outside an upper or lower control limit, an alarm is generated for the HVAC technicians or BAS engineer, allowing, in some cases, problems to be solved before occupants experience discomfort.

Each member of the HVAC operating staff assisted in the conversion of at least one pneumatic VAV system to DDC.

During periods of high electrical costs, PPPL, which is part of PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization, can, with one command, raise the cooling set point on the 85 VAV units to reduce the load on the chiller plant. PPPL has experienced a 70-percent increase in electrical-energy unit costs under deregulation.

“This team effort integrated improved indoor-air quality and energy efficiency — a win-win …,” one of the judges wrote. “An integrated design team that included a member of the operations-and-maintenance staff, the controls engineer, the electrical designer, the project manager, and the project planning and control officer was created. Including maintenance personnel who will use a system daily is a fundamental necessity for a successful project.”

Leadership by Building Design Engineers

In recognition of “best practices” by design engineers who completed a new, retrofit, or replacement building-automation-system project in a building more than 10,000 sq ft in size in North America between Nov. 1, 2004, and Oct. 31, 2006.

Control Technologies Inc.
Great River, N.Y.

New York City School Construction Authority's Children First program

Encompassing all of the schools that will be built in New York City over the next five years and involving many of the city's more than 1,200 existing schools as well, the New York City School Construction Authority's (SCA's) Children First program aims to reduce energy and facility-management expenses and foster a competitive bidding environment.

To implement and oversee the commissioning of a facilities-management system that would be cost-effective to install while providing the scalability needed to reduce life-cycle costs, the SCA chose Control Technologies Inc. (CTI).

The SCA's objectives are twofold:

  • Reduce the first cost of new construction through the use of open technology.

  • Create and maintain a “durable competitive environment” using the SCA's pre-selected open-communication technology (LonWorks). The direct-digital-control (DDC) temperature-control system in each new school is competitively bid, with the design built around LonWorks technology and installed and commissioned to CTI's specifications. CTI oversees submittals and construction and commissions the system with each controls contractor. CTI then installs a local user interface it developed and “connects” the interface to a central host station (a group of servers designed and implemented by CTI).

A major obstacle in the application of DDC prior to this project was the diversity of user interfaces supplied with stand-alone systems and the system-specific training required by custodians. The design CTI implemented uses a standard user environment — graphics, navigation, alarming, naming conventions. This significantly reduces training costs and increases the use of the systems. Using standard software drivers utilizing the open communications protocol makes providing supervisory control and data acquisition over control systems manufactured by (currently) seven manufacturers possible.

To date, four schools have been delivered, with 16 more scheduled for delivery within the next year. Approximately 75 new schools have been budgeted and are in planning design or under construction.

Contributing to CTI's receipt of a Networked Controls Leadership Award:

  • In part through the work of CTI, the largest HVAC market in the United States is learning to apply open-system technology. CTI has been involved in training architecture and engineering firms, along with SCA engineers, project managers, and commissioning engineers. The ripple effect of this project into the private sector has been significant.

  • The facilities-management systems designed and delivered by CTI will be the principal tools used by the SCA in implementing Local Law 86, concerning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) compliance by public buildings, making significant energy-optimization strategies viable. The central host station can be used as a measurement and verification tool for conservation efforts and as a central supervisory controller for districtwide demand-side-management programs.

  • The commissioning discipline CTI designed into the control-system-delivery process has been adopted and endorsed by the SCA for mechanical and electrical systems.

“What is impressive about the Children First project is not only the size, but the several ‘best-practice’ objectives and deliverables …,” one judge wrote. “The best practices developed by Control Technologies Inc. will help optimize energy efficiency, provide continual measurement and verification, and serve as a central supervisory controller …. The end results are sustainable LEED-certified schools and a better learning environment for New York's children.”

Leadership by Building Owner/Manager

In recognition of “best practices” by a building owner/manager who completed a new, retrofit, or replacement building-automation-system project in a building more than 10,000 sq ft in size in North America between Nov. 1, 2004, and Oct. 31, 2006.

Christopher D. Sandberg
Principal Engineer, Energy-Management Systems
Walt Disney World Co.

Veracruz Exhibit Hall, Coronado Springs Resort, Walt Disney World, Fla.

The newest addition to the world-class convention facilities of Walt Disney World's Coronado Springs Resort is 101,000-sq-ft Veracruz Exhibit Hall. Its energy-management system (EMS) controls HVAC operation and was designed using Disney's proven EMS design, procurement, and operation process, which bucks the multivendor “interoperability” trend by standardizing on one EMS (i.e., one manufacturer).

Disney's approach to energy-management systems, which minimizes costs for training, spare parts, and software licenses, is based on two fundamental principles: (1) To ensure competitive bidding, EMS hardware must be owner-furnished, and (2) design documents and specifications must define EMS design prescriptively. Disney's EMS design, procurement, and operation process is as follows:

Architectural/engineering design

The mechanical engineer performs all HVAC-design work and completes a temperature-control drawing providing control points, sequences of operation, and a controls specification. Design drawings show all EMS-panel locations with 120-v power, as well as the location of all space-temperature, humidity, and carbon-dioxide sensors. Electrical drawings show all motor- and lighting-control schematics and underground conduits. Work to be completed outside of the EMS panel is specified.

EMS design

A Disney energy-management engineer prepares EMS-design drawings, using a custom database program to develop EMS-panel wirelists showing point numbers and sensor types for all input/output cables. The drawings also include EMS communication-block diagrams and unit-control-panel- (UCP-) mounting details. Work to be completed inside of the EMS panel is specified.


The project is bid, and a mechanical contractor is awarded the contract. All EMS modules, the EMS panel, components used inside of the UCP, and basic EMS programming are provided by the owner. The mechanical contractor competitively bids the outside-the-UCP work, and a controls contractor is hired. The controls contractor prepares a submittal showing equipment details. The mechanical engineer reviews the submittal to determine compliance with plans and specifications. The controls contractor installs, labels, and terminates all field devices and pulls cables back to the EMS panel, leaving 10 ft of slack for final termination by the EMS contractor. The controls contractor then completes a cable/device checklist to verify proper installation and labeling. A signed copy is submitted to the owner. A separate EMS contractor familiar with the owner's EMS is hired by the controls contractor to perform the inside-the-UCP work. An assembly drawing detailing EMS-panel-component layout is prepared for each UCP. The temperature-control and EMS contractors work together to commission the EMS and verify the proper operation of each control point. A signed copy of the “point checkout” submitted to the owner verifies that the EMS is functioning properly.


The owner coordinates the connection of the EMS to the corporate Ethernet network and uploads all EMS panels to a central server. The owner prepares the EMS graphics and fine-tunes time and set-point schedules.

Honorable Mention: New Construction

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

CUH2A Inc. Architecture Engineering Planning, Atlanta

Molecular Science and Engineering Building, Atlanta

CUH2A was commissioned to design the Molecular Science and Engineering Building at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Built in 2006, the 272,500-sq-ft facility features a state-of-the-art research laboratory, a 150-seat lecture theater, four classrooms, office space, and a stand-alone cafe. Because it can be monitored remotely and managed from the campus front-end system, the building-automation system (BAS) reduced the need to have dedicated operators inside of the building on a full-time basis. Additionally, the BAS addresses comfort needs without exceeding energy-input requirements. Automated components are controlled based on demand ventilation sequences to remove high concentrations of gases.

Honorable Mention: Retrofit or Replacement

Tempe (Ariz.) Elementary School District No. 3

Source Refrigeration & HVAC Inc., Phoenix

Connolly Middle School, Tempe, Ariz.

Built in 1972, Connolly Middle School was struggling with the management of its aged mechanical systems, which were pieced together with an array of add-ons and repairs. With 184,034 sq ft of conditioned space in six buildings, the school was not providing the comfort and air quality desired for a learning environment and could not meet modern energy-efficiency expectations. Source Refrigeration & HVAC Inc. performed a system retrofit that involved the replacement and modernization of all of the air-side equipment and the installation of a controls system. Energy savings after six months totaled more than $58,000, a 34-percent reduction. In 2005, the school received an Arizona Governor's Award for Energy Efficiency.

Honorable Mention: Building Design Engineers

Eric Utterson, Ajay Bhargava, McClure Engineering, St. Louis

Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis

The central plant and seven remote chiller plants serving the Washington University School of Medicine provide a combined 19,000 tons of cooling capacity. Excluding one, all of the plants are capable of pumping chilled water into the campus distribution loop for other plants and buildings to use. The goal of this project was to fully convert all of the chilled-water plants to direct digital control and full primary/secondary operation. Prior to this integration, the loop transfer pumps and chillers were operated on a manual basis. A sequence of operation was developed for the master campus chilled-water system to establish coordinated control of all of the chiller plants, resulting in reduced chiller run time and improved occupant-comfort control.

Honorable Mention: Building Owners/Managers

Trustees of Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass.

Mead Hall, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass.

A residence hall constructed in 1901, Mead Hall received a significant renovation in 2006. Although primarily intended to improve space utilization and add living arrangements, the project provided an opportunity to upgrade the 46,000-sq-ft building's heating system and building-automation-system controls. The converted spaces were upgraded to include circulated hot water and individual room control, while the bathrooms were converted to use warm air with hot-water reheat. Space-temperature sensors were added to each floor, which reduced wide temperature variations from room to room and floor to floor. Supply/exhaust fans with energy-recovery wheels were installed in the bathrooms, with each recovering about 70,000 to 90,000 Btu per hour to pre-heat supply air.