A Wishful BAS Specification

Editor's note: After reading Lindy Johnston's piece on the role of the controls integrator (CSE 8/04 p.19), reader Al Peterson, who works for Broward County in Florida, in the Energy & Building Automation Section of the Dept. of Public Works and Transportation, wrote in with his thoughts on "wishful BAS specs" from a user's perspective.

By Staff January 1, 2005

What do I, as an end user of a building automation system, want to have? Information, control, remote access and ease of use.

Fundamental questions that must be asked and answered are:

  1. Does this information need to be known on a continuous basis or at a moment’s notice?

  2. If yes, can the BAS take action based on this information?

The next level of criteria is as follows:

A) Knowing that the physical components required to operate the building—power, water, outside air, etc.—are OK.

B) Knowing that the various building systems—HVAC, lighting, etc.—are operating properly and are controllable.

C) Having the ability to easily change programming, whether it be by adjusting temperature set points, time-of-day scheduling or control strategies, to run the facility as operators see fit.

Subsequent installments will address categories A and B, but frankly, a bigger issue is category C—how easy is it to access and use the building automation system, including remote access? Following is sample language as developed by Broward County:


On-site operator access to the system shall be through terminal emulation software or proprietary high-level software (allowing for graphics, etc.). Remote operator access to the system shall be through terminal emulation or web browser (Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator). The on-site operator interface shall be a new, well-known name-brand computer containing at least a 3.5-in. floppy drive; a CD-writer drive; a 20-GB hard drive; a pointing device; a keyboard; a 15-in. color monitor; a modem; and a printer. A properly sized UPS with TVSS that supports all components of the on-site operator interface—and the phone line—shall be provided.

Control panels

Physical and software access controls must exist. Physically, all control panels and operator interfaces need to be in secure areas. Access to the usage of software needs to be via at least four levels of control. The lowest level allows only information to be obtained. The next higher level also allows for set point adjustments, starting/stopping of equipment and time-of-day scheduling. The next level up also allows for using pre-programmed templates and some database management. The highest level of access also allows for total programming control strategies and access control. Upon ownership the County is to receive the MASTER password(s).


All hardware and software necessary to access, operate and program the BAS must be provided and installed and all software back-ups provided on optical or magnetic media. And provide the County with a means of restoring the database. The software shall allow authorized County personnel via the BAS to add/delete/modify/get/send and save the database for all points (attached hardware and software). The hardware shall be capable of: binary outputs; binary inputs; analog inputs; and analog outputs. The firmware/software shall be capable of binary and analog cyber points. The BAS must be able to call out pre-programmed alarm(s) via the connected remote communication access point. The BAS must be capable of expansion.

Training/user expectations

Training for all BAS programs utilized for this project shall be made available. The County has the option of selecting those training sessions in which it wishes to participate. The nature of the selected sessions shall be the equivalent of those offered in the BAS manufacturers’ training catalog. The price for all of the training needed for the County to completely operate the BAS it is purchasing shall be listed separately on the bid documents. The training can be held on County property and can be taught by any vendor employee capable of such training. The County shall be responsible for providing the necessary space and select up to three employees. Only the cost of County-selected sessions will be included in the vendors bid price.

For example, the software shall allow any authorized end user with the proper passwords to:

  1. Get information/values on all the equipment and software points involved in the total system—i.e., a point log/status report, trend/history, addresses/ports, etc.—and schedule reports on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis;

  2. Trend any point in the system on both a fixed time interval (>=1 minute) and/or significant change of value. At least one week’s worth of trend information to be retained for those points as designated by the County;

  3. Totalize any point on a time or consumption basis; correct incorrect analog inputs by changing the calibration coefficients;

  4. Command all binary output points—hardware or software (flags); adjust all analog output points or signal values—hardware or software (set points)—including the ability to override the control of any or all pre-programmed control strategies. All overridden points to be flagged as such at any operator interface connected to that system.

  5. Schedule binary output commands and analog adjustments, i.e., night setback. Schedules shall be based on the day of the week or holiday time frame. Holidays shall be able to be set up to one year in advance. The software shall automatically adjust to changes from standard to daylight savings and back to standard time of day.

  6. Program energy saving programs such as the ability to: optimize the start times of connected equipment; reset discharge air or condenser water return temperatures; regulate space temperature and humidity-controlled cycling during occupied and unoccupied periods; enthalpy control; and monitoring CO 2 .

  7. Enter data into preprogrammed firmware/algorithms/formulas and a means to defeat said pre-programming; generate user defined programs/formulas/algorithms.

Valued, but not mandatory features

The following items are desirable, but not mandated features:

  • The ability to set/reset the date and time remotely;

  • The ability to get reports/information using wildcards (i.e. ? & *);

  • The ability to sort information by name, point type, priority and condition (failed, alarm, override, etc);

  • The ability to select how the information is presented (tables, charts, graphics, etc.)

  • The ability to have the displayed information automatically updated within one minute;

  • The ability to perform various other potential energy related strategies (demand limiting, demand duty cycling, etc.).