Paul Ehrlich, a well-known industry
stakeholder and advocate of integrated and intelligent buildings.
Articles & Columns
- The Future for Building Automation Systems
This month, I want to take a look forward to what I envision needs to
happen with building automation and controls over the next decade.
- A Look Back
Since in January, there will be a new columnist, this month I will
focus on looking back over the last decade of controls and building
automation, and next month, I will offer my perspective on the future.
- Controls Project Life Cycle
The focus this month is on that cycle and some of the challenges
related to the design and delivery of controls systems.
- The Future of Interoperable Systems
Seems like just yesterday, it is now 21 years since the BACnet
standard, ASHRAE 135, was approved and published. Since then much has
- The Need for Speed
The driver for faster operation is going to come from upcoming needs
for buildings to work more cooperatively with their power
- BAS Commissioning Basics The
purpose of controls commissioning is to go through the system and
validate that it is working the way that it was designed.
- BAS and IOT It is fairly probable that the movement to IOT is also going to change how we look at BAS, controls and integration.
sequences are the responsibility of the systems designer and are used
to describe how systems shall operate.
- Systems Integration
Much of the challenge in making integrated systems work falls to the
controls contractor / systems integrator.
- Building Automation for Management of Water A BAS can be used as an effective tool not just for energy but for water management as well.
- Advanced Rooftop Controls
The concept of the ARC is to provide a retrofit controls package for
existing packaged systems that offers a dramatic improvement in
- Outdoor Air Management and Indoor Air Quality Controlling outdoor air is a matter of balance.
- BAS – Back to the Future What will systems look like in ten, twenty, or thirty years?
Energy Plant Control and Integration
Proper design of the controls and integration to key equipment is one
of the best options to improve not only efficiency but also reliability
- DFW Airport Seeks Systems Integrator The
owner will be requesting technical proposals and is looking for
integrators with experience on projects of similar size and scope.
- Lighting Control and BAS While it is desirable to
have an integrated system, it is very viable to have a lighting control
system that is standalone from the BAS.
- Future of Open Protocols
While we now have good choices in terms of robust protocols for use in
commercial buildings, areas remain where more effort is needed.
- Specifying Sensors
Like any element of a control design, selecting the right sensors, and
making sure that what is specified is being provided, helps assure a
quality control installation.
- Efficient Control of Operating and Procedure Rooms
By necessity these critical areas are energy intensive, in fact they
are arguably the most energy intense spaces in a healthcare facility.
- Pool and Ice Rink Control
Conditioning these spaces is always energy intense, however there are
strategies that can be used to provide the needed conditions as
efficiently as possible.
- Building Automation for Small Commercial Buildings
The benefits to having automation in smaller buildings include the
ability to better control energy usage, but also include monitoring,
preventative maintenance and enhanced grid integration.
- Control System Retrofits
Many buildings though are operating with the same control systems that
were installed when the building was constructed, ten or more years
- Lab Hood Control Ideally
the more data that can come back into the BAS, the better the facility
operations team can work with the lab staff to make sure that things
are being operated efficiently.
- Enhanced BAS with
We believe that even though analytics are fairly new, they are an
invaluable tool for better understanding how a facility is operating
and in making decisions to improve comfort and efficiency.
- Demand Controlled Ventilation
Proper management of ventilation is an essential task for any BAS, and
when properly applied it can result in a building that is both healthy
Independent Control Valves
The concept of pressure independent control is that you should be able
to have the same amount of flow through a device regardless of the
- Control of Critical Environments
When designing controls for a critical environment it is imperative to
start with a solid understanding of the operational parameters.
- Upgrading VAV Boxes
It is not surprising when dealing with existing buildings to find a
variety of VAV terminals.
of Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems Properly designed VRF
systems offer many benefits including high performance, improved
comfort, and a robust controls solution.
- Impact of ASHRAE 90.1 on Controls and BAS Design Optimized controls are now required
for HVAC systems and lighting controls (for interior, exterior, and
parking structures) as well as control over certain plug loads.
- Occupancy Control Using integration, it is
possible to use the sensors that are part of a lighting control system
as an input for the BAS to better operate the HVAC system.
- Data Analytics Find a system that meets your needs and get it on the next project.
- Spring Tune Up for your BAS? Making
sure that the system is readily accessible; that the data is correct,
and that the operators understand how to use it are key items to
improving the performance of any BAS.
- Making BAS Readily
Accessible – but Protected from Cyber Attack
- Controls Optimization No Longer Optional
- Chiller Plant
Control The key to chiller plant optimization is to remember that
the meter is on the plant, not the chiller.
- Controls Retrofits Preserving Smoke Control
- Pneumatic Upgrades The challenge is that simply upgrading from pneumatic to DDC will not necessarily save energy.
- Building to Grid aka B2G
- Upgrading Aging
Building Automation Systems
A well-designed upgrade can provide the ability for enhanced
operability and reduced energy use, easily paying for the upgrade cost.
- Application and Control of Air-to-Air Energy Recovery Units Used properly energy recovery is an important tool for managing ventilation and energy efficiency.
- Big Buildings meet Big Data At the end of the day “data
is data” and whether it comes from a building system or the sales
information of a large retailer the same tools and techniques can
readily be applied.
- Measuring Building
Occupancy The movement toward a better integrated, inclusive, and
accurate occupant measuring system is something to consider.
- Lighting Control
Look to make lighting control part of an
system as part of the BAS for improved coordination, support and
- Evolution from Building Automation to Energy Information
The focus is clearly changing from seeing the BAS as being an enhanced
temperature control system to becoming a working part of an EIS that
may be used for the successful operation of a high performance
BAS and Cyber-Security Traditionally building systems including BAS have been protected
partially through obscurity, and largely through physical
- The Importance of Measurement and Feedback
There is a need for continued measurement and feedback, since only with
this continued input can we improve.
- Energy Efficiency Challenges
The challenge with achieving efficiency, however, is that as we pick
the easier to gather fruit, the cost and complexity of the getting the
rest off of the tree is both more expensive and riskier.
- How Home Automation may transform Building Automation
While Nest is focused on the residential and light commercial space, it
is not unreasonable to expect to see similar technologies in future
Intelligent Buildings From Theoretical to Practical
Tipping Point for Fault Detection and Diagnostics?
Ideally delivery of FDD will allow for BAS to transition from providing
data (i.e. alarms) to actionable information, which can be used for
improved operations and efficiency.
- BAS vs PLC for HVAC Control Some interesting points
about the pros and cons of using industrial programmable logic controls
(PLC) over commercial Building Automation Systems (BAS).
- Keeping Current on Building Automation and Controls Systems
There are so many areas that BAS impacts from security to integrating
renewable energy sources that are invaluable for us to understand.
- Controls Specification Development What is the right approach?
- Open Systems at the Summit Building owners are still confused about what is really open and what isn’t.
- Failed Building Automation Systems Unexpected and Unknown Results
- Back to BAS Basics Actuation
- VAV Box Flow Settings
How to properly specify and set up the flow setpoints on a DDC VAV box
Future of Lighting Control and LED Lighting A number of new solutions coming on the market are designed around integrated lighting control for LED or solid state
- The Importance of Doing BAS Right An
optimized system has the potential to provide improved operation,
reliability, and of course energy efficiency.
- In-house BAS Department? What skills should an owner look
for to better
support their building systems especially controls and BAS?
- Where Is the BAS
Industry Going? Further,
without new manufacturers
entering the market (which bring new, fresh ideas to BAS products) what
will lead the industry to product improvements and innovations?
Everything gets old – dealing with obsolescence One of the goals of using an open protocol based system is to be able
to avoid obsolescence.
- Variable Frequency Drives and Building Automation Systems Part 1 Proper Selection
- Proactive BAS Alarming for High Performance Buildings To
start implementing a proactive alarm management process, it is
necessary to prioritize the alarms.
- How Far We’ve Come you can see readily observe the “state
of the art” from the 1970’s and 1980’s in many existing buildings
- Integration Myths, Lies and Misconceptions More and more
projects are involving the integration of more systems and/or equipment, many
whose function is not for HVAC. - Paul Ehrlich, Ira
& Angela Lewis Building
- BAS Usability
Creating high quality graphics is only half of the picture to support
- Can Specifications Lead the Advancement of Systems Integration? Perhaps, but keep in mind that
specifications in and of themselves do not dictate who does what.
- Set it and Forget It? We suspect that this is exactly
the approach that most designers, owners and contractors would really
like to be able to take with their BAS installations.
- Alarms Lead to Reactive Operations An alarm event
indicates that a problem has already occurred.
- Making Commercial
everything about a controls system—the
points, architecture, integration, etc.—comes from the requirements
the sequence of operation.
- Networked Building
Automation System (BAS)
It is amazing how little we know about what really goes on in most
- Closing the Feedback
Loop What type of
feedback is needed by each party? Answering this question is a bit more
complex. Angela Lewis, Building
- Why is
it that control systems don’t work? Focus on thorough control
design and installation, coupled with good training and tools for
continuous commissioning and monitoring. These are the keys to the
delivery of high performance building operation platforms.
Does Building Automation Become Industrial Automation? However tempting or logical it might seem to use
industrial automation in complex building projects, it usually leads to
problems (generally due to the technical and business practices “gaps”)
that are greater than the benefits.
- BAS as
a Tool for Existing Buildings Operations Operations teams
are tasked with running buildings that have minimal documentation and
may never have been properly commissioned. New tools, processes, and
training can help overcome these issues.
Buildings in the Age of Pneumatic Control?
How intelligent can a building be if most of the temperature control is
provided by antiquated controls?
Lighting Control Providing an efficient
building requires good lighting control that includes coordinated
scheduling, occupancy sensing, and daylight harvesting.
- Why Do
Open Protocol Myths Still Abound? We
see plenty of opportunities for the industry to educate itself
sufficiently to overcome these myths.
- Fundamental Changes
In June, Engineered Systems and Building
Intelligence Group will be conducting the first Sustainable Solutions
Hospitality at the “Fringe” of the Intelligent Building Industry?
Hospitality-centric products appear to have been immune to the market
pressure of open protocols, so we have solutions that do not enjoy the
benefits of this advance nor can they readily integrate to the
System Tune Ups Improving efficiency can be fairly
complicated and expensive, but many changes can be made simply by
tuning up the systems that are already in place.
BAS’s To Everything All The Time? Equipment or systems
integrated to a BAS and how they are integrated is a project-by-project
decision based on the needs of the client and the design.
Buildings Meet the Smart Grid Keep the
Smart Grid in mind as you start to work on your next project and think
about how you can make the building a smart part of the Smart
- The Coming Evolution
of BAS Design A good BAS design
starts with a well thought-out sequence of operation and point
Controls Optimization for High Performance Buildings – Part II Water
Side Last month’s
column focused on the control of the
with the use of strategies including demand controlled ventilation and
static pressure reset. This month we would like to explore the control
of the water side.
Controls Optimization for High Performance Buildings Strategies that should be considered to optimize the
operations of these systems using the control system to dramatically
reduce energy usage.
State of the Building Automation Market “who
makes the best building automation system?”
dawn of the era of the Intelligent Building? The simple
answer is that a convergence that has been building for years is now
An Intelligent Building Interoperability
testing is an important key to the success of multi-manufacturer BAS’s
and will become even more important to the success of Intelligent
and Advanced, Integrated Lighting Control New technologies
including the use of wireless communications, networking and open
standards are making the deployment of advanced lighting control
practical in both new and existing building projects.
Automation Wishes for a New Year As with technology in
general each advance seems to reveal the need for more advances to
achieve that elusive state of perfection.
Use of Ethernet / IP Infrastructure II Use of Virtual Local
- BAS Use of
Ethernet/IP Infrastructure Simply put, should a BAS use
its own dedicated Ethernet/IP system, or should it use that provided
for the building’s business-enterprise communications and managed by
the IT department?
- Data Center Building
Automation In many ways
data centers come
closest to blurring the line between commercial and industrial controls
in our industry.
- Selecting the
Building Automation or Systems Integration Contractor The
process that we use involves a formal “Request for Proposals” (RFP),
allowing us to gather information and evaluate it in an impartial
an Intelligent Building These three levels of
an Intelligent Building system can result in a significant improvement
of system operations, operational efficiency, and high level tools for
facility assessment and optimization.
- An Intelligently
Green Building The imagination of
the building design team (along with the willingness to research and
specify the technology and products involved in this integration) is
the only limit to creating intelligently green buildings.
Demand Response A building that has been
designed for demand response can readily drop electric loads with
little impact on the occupants.
Automation Presents Unique Challenges Multiple
interfaces makes campus-wide optimization, data mining, and energy and
operational analysis difficult.
on the Challenge of Writing the Controls Specs….
Open/standard communications protocols is
probably the most important example of where a specification should
contain explicit, prescriptive requirements.
the Controls Specs…. One of life’s great challenges In reality the design of the controls system really
starts with the selections made for the mechanical and electrical
systems and a good understanding of how the building will be operated.
Intelligent Buildings – a Brief History The
original concept of Energy Management, which later became Building
Automation, started in earnest as a result of the OPEC oil embargo in
Automated Are Our Green Buildings? The
new draft “LEED for Healthcare” document is not poised to add any new
warmth to our hearts. A close look at this document (or any LEED
rating system for that matter) reveals very little direct reference to
the use of building automation. In fact the term “building
automation” appears to be used only once in the entire document!
Year, New Beginnings “We don’t plan to
fail, but often fail to plan”.
is a complex issue and involves many decisions ranging from the use of
recycled materials to safe cleaning chemicals.
Buildings Roadmap “The industry needs
to get together to integrate or at least educate all of the people that
are involved. The owner cannot integrate the industry, the architect
cannot integrate the industry, the industry must integrate itself and
take the lead…”
- Intelligent Buildings – Today! The
concept of an Intelligent, Smart or “Next Generation” building has been
around for years.
Wanted: Building Systems Architect
- Why your
next project should be an Intelligent Building In
addition to being a better building to live, learn, work and play in it
can also be a very satisfactory investment for any owner.
- February Supplement Engineered Systems
Fear of Technology!
Ethernet Switch Selection
Joe Stasiek, Sales Manager,
George Thomas, President Contemporary Controls
James McHale i&i limited
The Intelligent Building
Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com
- The Time
is Now for Intelligent Buildings Learn why at AHR
- August Supplement Engineered Systems
What Is An Intelligent
Buildings with Automation
Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com
What’s The Role
For Advanced Technologies In Green Building Design?
Thomas Hartman, P.E. The Hartman Company
- Elevating our Industry
The time has come to work together to
promote and educate end users and owners on the benefits of Intelligent
Update From Chicago Meeting June 3rd Helping us find facility managers, energy
managers, asset managers, property managers, etc. who would be willing
to participate over the next 2 - 3 months would be great.
oBIX is now an
OASIS Committee Specification Paul Ehrlich PE, President,
Building Intelligence Group Toby
Considine – Technology Officer, Facility
Services, University of North Carolina Being approved as an OASIS committee standard
means that oBIX has had a successful public review and that the
committee has voted for approval.
We have seen strong progress toward delivery of Intelligent
Buildings. The technologies have become more economical, the
integrators more sophisticated, but most importantly owners are
starting to demand it.
- Building Intelligence Tour
– Who, What and Why
The Building Intelligence Tour is a series of
educational seminars that help building owners, consulting engineers,
integrators and suppliers understand the benefits, technology and
solutions involved in Intelligent Buildings.
– One Year Later In
2004 Paul Ehrlich was awarded the first ever Buildy Vision Award. This
award was based on peer nominations and voted on by BuilConn attendees.
of Enterprise Integration is that groups of buildings can now be
centrally managed and also that we can connect Building Systems to
Who, What, Where, and When of BuilSpec Paul Ehrlich and Anto Budiardjo The
BuilSpec seminar series was created to provide technical owners and
consulting engineers with an objective and clear understanding of the
technologies, initiatives and trends that are reshaping the building
systems playing field.
is oBIX? oBIX is an industry wide initiative to define
XML and Web Services based ways to present buildings related
Other related articles/interviews published
Protocol – What’s in Store for BAS?” Engineered Systems. (roundtable)
May and June 2005
“The New Buzz”. Journal of Property Management. (interview)
March / April 2005.
“oBIX Gets a New Co-Chair”. CSE online. (article)
35 People to Watch at the Intersection of Real
Estate and Technology”. RealComm Advisory. February
“Building Management – Moving Into the Future”
Engineered Systems.(article) February 2005.
“BuilSpec Spec Tips”. Consulting
Specifying Engineer. (interview) December 2004.
“Zigbee – What’s That?” (interview) Consulting
Specifying Engineer, November 2004
“BuilSpec About the IT Sea Change. (interview) Consulting
Specifying Engineer. October 2004.
“On the Road to Wireless” (article) Contracting
Business Magazine, October 2004.
“The X Factor – Understanding XML and oBIX”
Buildings. July 2004.
“XML Q&A”. (interview) HPAC, July 2004.
“oBIX interoperability picture becomes clearer at Builconn”.
Consulting Specifying Engineer, May 2004.
“Connecting the Dots Surrounding XML / Web
Engineered Systems. (interview) May 2004
“The Future of Facility Management” (author) HPAC.
“What does the future hold for BAS?” (interview) Consulting
Specifying Engineer. January 2004.
In 2004 he formed the Building
Intelligence Group an independent consultancy, whose primary purpose is
to help system suppliers as well as building owners and managers,
manoeuvre their operations through the vast changes prompted by open
systems, convergence and enterprise building management. The main focus
is in the areas of facility and IT integration, convergence and
intelligent buildings. Clients include major systems manufacturers,
technology providers, integrators and property developers.
Previously Paul was with Trane where
he served as Business Development Leader guiding the global direction
and development of Trane’s line of building control products. Prior to
working for Trane, Paul worked for Johnson Controls providing solutions
to building owners.
Throughout his career, Paul has been
actively involved with various industry groups involved in the creation
of new automation standards and technologies. Previous roles include
chairing the ASHRAE Guideline 13 committee on how to specify DDC
controls, chairing the BACnet sub-committee on interoperability, and
acting as the inaugural chair for the oBIX committee to establish XML
standards for building controls.
At BuilConn 2004, Paul was honored
with a Buildy Vision Award for his perseverance in promoting whole
building integration and interoperability through advocacy, promotion,
educational and training endeavors.
Paul has a Bachelors degree in
Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters
of Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas. He is a
licensed engineer in the State of Wisconsin and lives with his family
in White Bear Lake Minnesota.
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