Government building design: Automation and controls

When your client is the government, engineering design can be tricky, thanks to stepped-up regulations, budgetary concerns, and other considerations. Respondents discuss building automation and controls in government, state, municipal, federal, and military facilities.



Respondents: Ian Bost, PE, LEED AP Principal, Mechanical Engineer Baird, Hampton & Brown Inc. Fort Worth, Texas Robert Eichelman, PE, LEED AP Technical Director EYP Architecture & Engineering Albany, N.Y. Paul W. Johnson, PE, LEEP AP BD+C Vice President o


  • Ian Bost, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Mechanical Engineer, Baird, Hampton & Brown Inc., Fort Worth, Texas
  • Robert Eichelman, PE, LEED AP, Technical Director, EYP Architecture & Engineering, Albany, N.Y.
  • Paul W. Johnson, PE, LEEP AP BD+C, Vice President of Mechanical Engineering, Wood Harbinger, Bellevue, Wash.
  • Katie McGimpsey, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Affiliated Engineers Inc., Rockville, Md.
  • R. Scott Pegler, PE, LEED AP, Director of Mechanical Engineering, Setty, Fairfax, Va.

Figure 2: Affiliated Engineers worked on the second phase of the National Institutes of Health’s John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center. One feature of the Phase II addition is a central atrium with a 200,000 cfm smoke evacuation system. CourtesyCSE: When designing integration monitoring and control systems, what factors do you consider?

Pegler: Normally we specify an open architecture system that employs a BACnet protocol. This is generally a Tridium-based system versus one of the leading manufacturer proprietary systems.

Bost: We look at owner staffing and technical capabilities, building/space usages, and system types. We do not want to specify a more complex system than the owner wants.

CSE: What are some common problems you encounter when working on building automation systems?

Pegler: Problems can range anywhere from poor programming and control systems installation/execution to issues with proprietary system integration and fundamental lack of understanding of systems design. Control integration is perhaps the biggest gap.

Bost: Those include costs and propriety system components.

CSE: What types of system integration and/or interoperability issues have you overcome, and how did you do so?

Bost: Interoperability issues have generally been addressed through face-to-face meetings with all parties.

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