2 Approaches to Building Controls Upgrade Projects

Last part of a 3-part article offering tips on how to plan and structure control upgrades

By Loren Snyder  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Getting the Most Out of a Building Controls UpgradePt. 2: Timing, Human Factors Are Key in Building Control UpgradesPt. 3: This Page

2 Approaches to Building Controls Upgrade Projects

There are two schools of thought on how to begin a controls upgrade project.

One advocates identifying organizational goals and needs first, then conducting the physical survey, letting that sequence determine which upgrades satisfy organizational goals.

The other approach is to conduct the physical survey first to truly understand the equipment, and then make decisions based on what’s possible and necessary.

While a field survey is usually the first thing most facility managers consider, it is not always the best choice for every organization.

— Loren Snyder

Identifying Organizational Goals in Doing Controls Upgrade

Conducting a physical survey is comparatively easy; at least it seems a more straightforward task than identifying all the needs of various constituencies who, directly or indirectly, are affected by a controls upgrade. Whittling that list of goals, needs, and wants into something manageable and under budget can be a tall task.

Carlos Petty of Syska Hennessy recommends setting priorities for control upgrades by breaking them down into categories: building equipment, HVAC/MEP systems, and facility areas for conversion.

"Consideration should be given first to areas in the facility where environmental control is critical in reducing energy consumption," he says. "The next consideration should be the age and reliability of existing control equipment and its potential for catastrophic failure."

Similarly, Barry Mathis, of McKenney’s, recommends letting the facilities team identify — even in broad strokes — the priority areas of concern. "One of my customers says keeping the tenants happy is upmost in the design, and energy comes second," he says, "while another says energy savings at all costs."

Jay Goode, senior associate with CCRD, also says facility managers should make sure that the controls upgrade continues to deliver essential information to the facilities team. In other words, good data has to be part of any organizational goal.

That means the upgrade should plan to include information the facility management team currently uses as a metric of the operations. "If they use the chilled water return temperature to currently stage on the chillers, not displaying that information will instantly make them feel like the system is useless," Goode warns. "Creating system summary screens, with all of the information that they currently check physically as they make their rounds, will demonstrate to them an instant benefit, sparking the interest in ‘What else can this do for me?’ "

The bottom line is always essential for continued support of upgrades by management, says Petty. Therefore, cost-saving goals also have to be part of the facility management team’s mindset.

"Successful facility managers must clearly define specific cost-saving goals in order to maintain in-house corporate support for each controls upgrade project," Petty says.

Conscientious development of a sound plan, one that takes advantage of the best control equipment, operating strategies, and trained operating staff, will reduce both energy consumption and facility operating costs.

— Loren Snyder

Continue Reading: BAS/EMS

Getting the Most Out of a Building Controls Upgrade

Timing, Human Factors Are Key in Building Control Upgrades

2 Approaches to Building Controls Upgrade Projects

Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »

  posted on 7/6/2015   Article Use Policy

Related Topics: