MasterFormat 2004: Building Automation and Control Systems

By Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E., MAI, Senior Mechanical Engineer, AC Corporation, Greensboro, N.C., ASHRAE TC 7.1 Chair and Chapter Technology Transfer Vice-Chair September 1, 2005

Division 13? Division 15? Division 16? With the Construction Specifications Institute’s MasterFormat ’95, we saw a variety of interpretations regarding where to place work results for building automation systems (BAS). Some of these choices followed the basic structure of MasterFormat, while others were more “creative.” The main problem was that multiple divisions and level 2 sections could be used to cover equipment, installation and commissioning of integrated BAS.

Because MasterFormat ’95 left us with many opportunities to spread BAS specification content away from an organized structure and common location, a change was definitely needed. But the initial industry response to revise MasterFormat and rectify the situation was less than optimal.

Division 17: the initial response

Instead, because the industry felt MasterFormat didn’t have a consistent architecture to accommodate integrated construction, control, monitoring, verification and energy optimizing, it created its own category, adding the “mystical” Division 17—to the 16 divisions of MasterFormat ’95.

As it turned out, Division 17 didn’t work out. A way for MasterFormat to communicate integrated BAS solutions in a centralized way was defintely needed, but Division 17 had a fundamental flaw. From a macrocosmic view, the division, by nature, was hybrid and unique. How it was to be used would vary, depending on author, project, bidding conditions, etc. It was not consistent, because no true standard was available to define content structure. And many engineers and contractors can vouch for the fact that variations in specifications can cause serious misunderstandings. Deviation from established structure increases the opportunity for errors, conflicts and omissions—all of which involve time and money.

BAS influences MasterFormat 2004

CSI initiated the MasterFormat 2004 expansion process to address significant shortcomings associated with the 1995 version and to keep pace with the continuously developing state of the built environment. BAS issues that significantly influenced the shaping of MasterFormat 2004 included:

  • Elimination of hybrid specification sections.

  • Provision of an organized, central location that avoids having to cover work results across multiple divisions.

  • Development of a new structure to address product development and technology enhancements; the 1995 edition’s number system was full.

  • Identification of contractual responsibility for integrated solutions.

As a member of the MasterFormat Expansion Task Team (MFETT), ASHRAE was directly involved in crafting the consensus roadmap detailing building-related controls solutions. In fact, feedback from ASHRAE Technical Committee 7.5 on smart building systems was used to define some of the finer points of integrated BAS.

Responding to integrated BAS

To understand the impact of where BAS work results are now covered in MasterFormat, one must first look at the new 2004 edition’s group and subgroup structure.

Control solutions are split into two classifications: facility-related systems, which are now specified in the Facility Services Subgroup, under Division 25, Integrated Automation ; and process-specific systems. The latter are specified in the Process Equipment Subgroup under Division 40, Process Integration . All previous references to work results, and the commissioning thereof, in the old Divisions 2, 13, 15 and 16 nomenclature no longer exist.

Division 25: Integrated automation

The question thus became: Where do we locate building controls scope and how do we deal with an integrated, smart building perspective?

Each of the divisions in the Facility Services Subgroup (20—29) has been structured to aggregate common issues at the beginning of the division, followed by product-specific detail. Division 25 consolidates the following consistent subject matter:

  • 25 01 00 Operation and Maintenance of Integrated Automation offers a prescribed location to address maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, replacement and restoration issues for projects requiring an O&M focus.

  • 25 05 00 Common Work Results for Integrated Automation offers a prescribed location to singularly address the division’s comprehensive issues such as conductors and cables, grounding and bonding, pathways, vibration and seismic control, and identification.

  • 25 06 00 Schedules for Integrated Automation offers a prescribed location to singularly address division comprehensive schedules for networks, network gateways, control and monitoring networks, local control units and instrumentation and terminal devices.

  • 25 08 00 Commissioning of Integrated Automation offers a prescribed location to singularly address integrated commissioning of the wholistic BAS solution.

The remainder of Division 25 outlines the unique hardware, software and sequences needed to describe an integrated BAS solution. On a microcosmic level, specific breakdown structure for instrumentation and terminal devices is defined to address the unique aspects of facility equipment, conveying equipment, fire-suppression systems, plumbing, HVAC, electrical systems, communications systems and electronic safety and security systems. For example, in 25 35 00 Integrated Automation Instrumentation and Termination Devices for HVAC, level 3 structure is defined to address actuators and operators, sensors and transmitters, control valves, control dampers and compressed air supply.

But I can’t find it!

Does the new structure cover every device in an integrated controls solution and assign it a fixed level 3 or even level 4 home? To be honest, no. Such a narrow focus and expectation would miss the big picture of now having a consensus structure and planned capability of adding future/missing considerations. In the wisdom of the MFETT work, the level 3 and level 4 numbering system has been spaced to allow the engineer opportunities to accommodate the omissions or new product developments that are inevitable. Therein lies the beauty of MasterFormat 2004’s architecture.

So what’s to keep engineers from creating another hybrid, individually interpreted substructure within the Division 25 master structure? Nothing. But the committee has developed two important vehicles for change. First, MasterFormat 2004 is designed to accommodate a certain level of customization based on project needs and technology development. Second, ASHRAE will continue to provide a liaison role to CSI so that any significant omissions and technology changes relating to integrated building controls can be addressed. In effect, a continuous maintenance forum has been established via ASHRAE’s technical committees to stay ahead of the curve and keep MasterFormat 2004 in touch with the dynamics of the built world.

The road ahead

The MasterFormat 2004 structure strategically resolves BAS specification problems encountered in the 1995 version. Division 25 is a standalone division dedicated to the complex world of integrated building controls solutions. The organization of information has been centralized so that work results can be described one time only. Advances in technology have been incorporated, room has been provided to accommodate future considerations and a viable plan has been initiated via cooperation between CSI and ASHRAE to address dynamics as they occur.

Specifying engineers should find the new structure intuitive and simple. Design efforts between M/E/P engineers can be seamlessly integrated via a prescribed roadmap. Contractors can now find fully integrated BAS solution work results in a familiar and repeatable location.

Date-certain conversion timetables for various governmental and institutional entities have been set, and some have already been put in force. It’s a brave new world! To quote Calvin and Hobbes, “The day is full of possibilities!” And these possibilities are in effect right now.

Goodbye, Division 17 and all of your hybrid variations.