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The Importance of Measurement and Feedback
There is a need for continued measurement and feedback, since only with this continued input can we improve.
Paul Ehrlich, Ira
& Angela Lewis
March Issue - Column
Bill Gates, the founder and former CEO of Microsoft, has dedicated his
time and efforts toward running the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation. The Gates Foundation has a significant endowment and
is focused on solving a series of weighty global issues including
poverty, health and education. Each year the foundation publishes
a letter talking about their progress. A few weeks ago the 2013
letter from Bill Gates was released. The letter talks about the
importance of “Measuring Progress” and starts with a discussion
of an early micrometer (“the Lord Chancellor”) that was instrumental in
the development of the steam age. Gates goes on to explain the
importance of measurement and metrics for the work being funded by the
foundation. As an example one of their programs is to eradicate
the spread of Polio. Being able to track and measure where the last
cases remained and a plan to eradicate these was critical on the path
to wipe out this disease.
The topic of measurement made me realize the importance of measurement and feedback as we work on designing, commissioning, operating and servicing Building Automation Systems. A good control system, by definition, utilizes feedback for accurate control. For example if we have a DDC control loop that is modulating a chilled water valve will typically use the associated setpoint and discharge air temperature as inputs to the loop.
It is also important that as system designers that we get feedback on how our designs operate. Unfortunately we often end up working “open loop” and don’t have that feedback. As a result it is not uncommon for systems not to be achieving our design goals in terms of cost, efficiency, comfort and performance. So how do we get good feedback? Here are a few suggestions:
The other big question is what to measure. We typically measure a
series of parameters that range from project cost and variance from
budget, to the amount of energy saved and the conformance to parameters
including uptime and comfort.
I agree with Gates. There is a need for continued measurement and feedback, since only with this continued input can we improve.
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
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