“Our goals were simple – standardize our thermostats
across our portfolio and manage setbacks to a company
standard to benefit the savings offered from a proven
technology,” says Frank Inoa, director of engineering
for Arby’s Restaurant Group. “The entire process was a
learning experience. The more benefits we uncovered
from different manufacturers, the bigger the wish list
became for our future system. By the time we were ready
to pilot various systems, we were quite educated on what
it should look like.”
Defining your objectives in this way will help you
navigate the next step – examining your existing team
and assets, a necessary hurdle that will help you weed
out BAS products that don’t fit well.
“Assess whether all or part of your services will be self-performed or delivered by a service provider,” recommends Paul Oswald, managing director of CBRE/ESI,
which provides building management services that include BAS integration. “Asking questions regarding available time and skill level is critically important to making
sure that the people part of the equation is adequately
addressed. Then, once this element is understood, assess
the current state of the building’s systems and determine
the best technology path to enable the solution.”
Define Your Purchase Criteria
After thoroughly determining what your goals are and
what existing resources (both human and technological)
you have, start developing a list of requirements that your
eventual BAS purchase will have to meet. ASHRAE’s 2015
update to Guideline 13: Specifying Building Automation
Systems walks readers through typical features, important
project considerations, and tips on creating a BAS specification that meets your needs. It can prove an invaluable
resource in understanding what’s available and helping
you weigh the pros and cons of different features.
Ron Bernstein, president of Ron Bernstein Consulting
Group and a member of ASHRAE’s Guideline 13 development committee, recommends that you also find a neutral
advisor or automation consultant and develop a master
plan with them before you start speaking with vendors.
This will help you avoid accidental bias from sales pitches.
Ideally, your consultant should be familiar with the different configurations described in Guideline 13 to help you
determine what setup is best for your building.
After bringing a trusted consultant on board, investigate
product options. Consider these four steps as you move
closer to the bidding and purchasing stage.
“There are specific criteria when you’re looking at existing sys-
tems,” Kahn says. “For example, is the server less than five years
old? Is it performing satisfactorily?”
Fellow committee member Ron Bernstein adds, “A short list would
include warranty issues and availability, parts, serviceability, reli-
ability, and cost issues.” Typically, bridging a legacy system with new
products falls into one of these three methods.
Buildings with legacy building controls face a tough decision – is it better to take steps to integrate older controls into a new
communications system to keep costs down or spend more now to
build in new functionality? ASHRAE’s Guideline 13 offers a chapter
on upgrade challenges and what factors can help FMs make the
decision, explains Dave Kahn, chief mechanical engineer of the RHM
Group and a member of the Guideline 13 development committee.
INTEGRATE, UPGRADE, OR REPLACE?
INTEGRATE UPGRADE REPLACE
NO CHANGES ARE MADE TO THE
SAME CONTROLS AND EQUIPMENT, BUT
WITH NEW SOFTWARE AND INTERFACES
REMOVE BOTH CONTROL
HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE
ADD GATEWAYS OR INTERFACES
ALLOW THE LEGACY PRODUCT TO
INTERFACE WITH OTHER SYSTEMS KEEP EXISTING EQUIPMENT
MAINTAIN ACCESS TO INFORMATION
FROM THE LEGACY SYSTEM NEW CONTROLS AND SOFTWARE