May 2016

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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Control Sequences

Paul Ehrlich, Ira Goldschmidt & Angela Lewis
Building Intelligence Group

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Engineered Systems 
May Issue - BAS Column

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One of the most important factors in the efficiency of any HVAC system is the selection and implementation of the proper control sequence of operations.  Control sequences are the responsibility of the systems designer and are used to describe how systems shall operate.  Key elements of any sequence include:

The process typically used to develop a control sequence starts with the systems design engineer who needs to consider the owner's requirements, codes and standards, systems selected, and then select and specify the sequence as part of an overall controls system design.  Sequences are typically described in a written format that becomes part of the project specifications.  Controls contractors will typically review these sequences when bidding a project, and again when developing the project submittals.  A controls technician, working for the contractor, needs to interpret these written sequences, and express them in the programming language used as part of the controls system.  Ideally, sequences are then tested and reviewed during project implantation and commissioning. 

Reliable Controls Along the way, there are many things that can, and generally do, go wrong with control sequences. This can begin with challenges in developing the sequences and can continue with how the contractor interprets them and completes their implementation.  While most systems generally are able to achieve the goals for equipment protection, reliability and comfort, achieving optimal efficiency is a challenge due to difficulties that start in design and continue through the contracting process. 

ASHRAE Guideline 36P

One potential solution for better design of control sequences is coming from the proposed ASHRAE Guideline 36 titled “High Performance Sequence of Operations for HVAC Systems”.  This project has included committee work to define a series of optimized sequences as well as their associated points list and functional performance tests.  The work being done on this project is very important for the industry and can provide the starting point for a greatly improved process for the development, testing, implementation and validation of optimized control sequences. 

About the Authors

Paul and IraPaul 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  We also invite you to contact us directly at or


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