Battling the complexity of designing government facilities: automation and controls, codes and standards

The government can be a tough customer, and the projects that state, municipal, federal, and military entities approach engineers about are highly complex. Here, engineers with experience tackling such tall orders offer advice regarding automation and controls and following codes and standards.


Mohamed Abdelmoneim, PE, Peng, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Electrical Engineer, EYP, Washington, D.C. Courtesy: EYPRaymond Krick III, PE, LEED AP, Project Manager, RMF Engineering, Baltimore. Courtesy: RMF EngineeringAllen Poppe, PE, MBA, Principal Mechanical Engineer, Mechanical & Chemical Group, Manager, Stanley Consultants, Muscatine, Iowa. Courtesy: Stanley ConsultantsRick H. Troberman Jr., PE, LEED AP, CBCP, Mechanical Engineer, EEA Consulting Engineers, Austin, Texas. Courtesy: EEA Consulting EngineersLindsay Zanders, PE, PMP, Sr. Project Manager/Director of Projects, Primera Engineers Ltd., Chicago. Courtesy: Primera Engineers


Mohamed Abdelmoneim, PE, Peng, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Electrical Engineer, EYP, Washington, D.C.

Raymond Krick III, PE, LEED AP, Project Manager, RMF Engineering, Baltimore

Allen Poppe, PE, MBA, Principal Mechanical Engineer, Mechanical & Chemical Group, Manager, Stanley Consultants, Muscatine, Iowa

Rick H. Troberman Jr., PE, LEED AP, CBCP, Mechanical Engineer, EEA Consulting Engineers, Austin, Texas Lindsay

Zanders, PE, PMP, Sr. Project Manager/Director of Projects, Primera Engineers Ltd., Chicago 

CSE: When working on monitoring and control systems in government, state, municipal, federal, and military facilities, what factors do you consider?

Zanders: Typically, government, state, municipal, federal, and military facilities involve more than a single building. The entity can be a collection of closely located buildings in a campus setting, like a military base, or it can be individual buildings spread across a city, state, or country, such as fire stations. The common element is the operation and maintenance (O&M) team. A recommended practice is to connect individual facility building automation systems (BAS) to a central collection system. An advantage to a central monitoring station is the ability for the O&M team to collect information on all of their facilities without physically traveling to each site. The monitoring station can also provide remote control if the individual facility BAS is configured correctly. Determining the capabilities and feasibility of a central monitoring/control station depends on the quantity and location of facilities, operation/occupancy at facilities, and the staff mobilization plan. Distributed buildings providing critical services are the ideal application for remote monitoring and control.

Three new 22,000-cfm supply and corresponding exhaust fan energy-recovery modules were built in place and installed to meet the need for N+1 redundancy in a research laboratory facility. The units are located in a mechanical room attic with limited spaceTroberman: The control systems must meet the open-protocol requirements, and the earlier in the design process, the better for working out challenges with respect to controls and overall integration of systems. It is very important to understand the Army's definitions as well as the difference between the building-level BAS and the utility monitoring and control systems/energy-management control systems (UMCS/EMCS) per the guide specifications. Additionally, it is important to consider and be aware of what systems are required to be included in the scope of the monitoring and control systems. We are seeing more systems being required to be monitored.

Poppe: Military specifications are set up for separate UMCS and direct digital control (DDC) systems. The UMCS provides basewide connectivity of one or more building-level DDC systems. The current policy is for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Air Force Civil Engineering Center to use the LonWorks standard. Naval Facilities Engineering Command uses the BACnet standard. In reality, various bases have their own legacy systems. From a practical standpoint, it is best to try to match the existing system from an interoperability standpoint. The trend toward joint bases further complicates the matter.

CSE: Please explain some of the codes, standards, and guidelines you use during the commissioning process. Which codes/standards should engineers be most aware of in their commissioning of these buildings?

Poppe: We structure our commissioning process based on ASHRAE guidelines and industry standards of practice established by the Associated Air Balance Council (AABC) Commissioning Group (ACG). ASHRAE Guideline 0-The Commissioning Process is also used. State and federal projects are increasingly requiring professional accreditation. Many of our commissioning professionals are accredited by the ACG. We see the CxA Certified Commissioning Authority credential being required for military facilities. Engineers should be aware that ASHRAE Standard 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings and International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) include commissioning requirements.

Krick: Most government clients follow the codes from the International Code Council (ICC), such as the International Building Code and the International Mechanical Code, but some government clients follow additional codes, such as the UFC or the National Institutes of Health Design Requirements Manual (DRM). The UFC documents cover every aspect of facility design and apply to military departments, defense agencies, and DoD field activities. These documents reference the ICC codes and other industry standards. The DRM is a comprehensive guide for laboratory design.

Troberman: They should be aware of ASHRAE Guideline 0 and ASHRAE Guideline 1.1: HVAC&R Technical Requirements for The Commissioning Process, ASHRAE 189.1, and NEBB Procedural Standards for Whole Building Systems Commissioning of New Construction.

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