Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
Making Commercial Controls Work
Nearly everything about a controls system—the points, architecture, integration, etc.—comes from the requirements defined in the sequence of operation.
Paul Ehrlich, Ira
& Angela Lewis
GET ENOUGH FEE
Making a control system work starts with getting sufficient design fee for the hours needed to “do it right”. Without pointing fingers, current A/E business practices for typical commercial projects usually yields engineering fees that are not commensurate with the design effort required (which in turn leaves little to no fee for the controls design). If you want your control systems to work then you first need to learn what fee is needed and then pick and choose your projects based on the ability to meet this goal. If that fee cannot be obtained then the quality of the control system will be mostly left to luck (or, worse still, the fee will go into the red finishing the design through the RFI and/or commissioning processes).
with a reasonable fee the amount of engineering time available for controls
design on general construction projects will still be fairly limited. Unfortunately, current A/E practice involves
many design iterations that seem to go well-beyond the traditional SD/DD/CD
phases. Interim/90% review and/or GMP design
submissions add to the effort along with the near daily battle to keep up with
the Architect’s design changes. The controls
design effort needs to practice restraint concerning when to expend the fee. The best approach is to keep design efforts
to a minimum except for the most important design phase deliverables. Better yet, leave as much of the controls design
to the latter part of the project when it is clear what the control system
needs to control in the first place (in earlier stages deliverables should
remain at a clearly delineated “outline” or even narrative level). If not, the controls design effort will just
be needlessly chasing all of the other disciplines’ design iterations.
CHOOSE YOUR DESIGN BATTLES
Many engineers substitute quantity for quality when developing controls design deliverables. A typical commercial project doesn’t need as much information as many might think. The following provides some specific guidance on where to put your design efforts:
THE CONTRACTOR DOES THE CONSTRUCTING NOT THE ENGINEER, BUT…
might be able to guess where we’re going with this but it will have to wait for
About the Authors
Paul and Ira first worked together on a series of ASHRAE projects including the BACnet committee and Guideline 13 – Specifying DDC Controls. The formation of Building Intelligence Group provided them the ability to work together professionally providing assistance to owners with the planning, design and development of Intelligent Building Systems. Building Intelligence Group provides services for clients worldwide including leading Universities, Corporations, and Developers. More information can be found at www.buildingintelligencegroup.com We also invite you to contact us directly at Paul@buildingintelligencegroup.com or email@example.com
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