CEO & Co-founder
Interval Data Systems, Inc.
For new construction, the HVAC system is commissioned at every step, pre-design to post-occupancy. The process for functional testing equipment is well established. While this is important, even with a great mechanical design, a building will not operate well without proper automation—the software layer that actually implements the sequences of operation. HVAC systems are no longer hardware systems with software controllers. A modern HVAC system is a software application that controls hardware components (equipment). The software components get very minimal attention during most construction projects, from the engineering specification to the controls submittals to the actual code installed, and the results are predictably under-performing buildings. Analysis efforts on existing buildings suffer the same fate. This presentation will use case study examples to show the flaws and impact of insufficient automation (software) implementations, including college/university buildings, a convention center, and a $500 million state-of-the-art medical research facility. We’ll show how engineering specifications and sequences need improvement to ensure the instructions to the controls contractor are complete and non-ambiguous, and how controls submittals need upgrading to ensure the specified control is delivered in a robust, maintainable fashion. We’ll also look the challenges of rewriting the BAS’s software layer in existing buildings. The presentation will reference ASHRAE Guideline 36P as a roadmap for how software should function to deliver consistent high-performance buildings. In conclusion, there are many lessons to be learned from the software industry about how to build resilient, intelligent software applications, as that is what’s required in complex buildings today. The industry needs to enhance its capabilities in this area and develop the skill sets necessary to treat the software side HVAC system with the same seriousness as hardware is treated today.
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