Ensuring Proper Installation of Building Automation Systems

  June 12, 2015

This quick read comes from James Piper, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management. One reason that building automation systems fail to meet expectations is the lack of adequate training. As building controls and automation systems have grown in their capabilities, they have become more complex. More complexity means more control capabilities, improved comfort, and reduced energy use. But more complexity also means that those who work with the system must have more in-depth training. It is not enough for operators to know how to access information; they must understand what that information means and if it reflects a properly or improperly operating system or component. Similarly, it is not enough for operators to know how to change the status of a control point or to reset a temperature; they must understand why they are doing it and what impact it will have on operations and energy use in that and other systems. Without that understanding, facility managers risk having the BAS reduced to a remote monitoring system.

Operator training is only one aspect of system training that is required. Those who must maintain the automation system and the equipment it controls must also be trained in not only the how but also the why. Without that understanding, they can make changes to components that will result in a degradation in the operation of an entire energy-using system. They can modify the operation of a single sensor or control point that prevents the building system from operating the way it was intended. Even worse, to quickly solve a maintenance problem, they can override a system function simply because it is the easiest solution, not realizing what impact their actions will have on operations. And these overrides can remain in place indefinitely, masking the real problem.

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