Creating efficient, effective labs: Building automation, controls

Laboratory and research facility operators must produce precise, reliable results every time in order to stay in business—and they insist upon that same precision from the engineers working on their buildings. Building automation systems and integration often come into play.



H. Jay Enck, CPMP, CxAP, HBDP, BEAP, LEED Fellow, LEED AP BD+C, QxAP, Chief Technology Officer, Commissioning & Green Building Solutions Inc. (CxGBS) Duluth, Ga.

Ian Marchant, PE, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Mechanical Engineer, CDM Smith, Latham, N.Y.

Mike Walters, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Confluenc, Madison, Wis.

CSE: When designing integration monitoring and control systems, what factors do you consider?

Marchant: The first priority is meeting project specifications. However, keeping systems simple is also important-complex operating algorithms can save a lot of energy, but if they are not understood by the owner's operators they can be incorrectly adjusted, improperly maintained, or bypassed altogether. Initially, this can be overcome by proper training. Over time, employee turnover and/or lack of system understanding can result in more energy use than necessary. Calibration of sensors can also cause a lack of proper control. Once an operator cannot trust the control system, "workaround" fixes will be found to bypass a once reliable control system. A robust commissioning and retro-commissioning program can overcome these problems.

Figure 2: Engineers at CxGBS recently finished work on the three-story Mississippi Central Crime Lab in Jackson, Miss. The 92,181-gross-sq-ft project included whole building commissioning and featured a range of components—medical exam rooms, autopsy faciCSE: What types of cutting-edge sensors, biometrics, or other controls are you specifying in these buildings?

Walters: I have become convinced of the value of Aircuity's air quality monitoring suite for many different environments, including laboratory facilities. New construction projects, where a complete ventilation system can be designed to leverage this type of technology, allow for significant operating and capital efficiencies, but existing buildings can be equally viable candidates. Laboratory demand control ventilation, facilitated by air quality sensors, can be a great energy conservation measure.

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

Enck: There are variety of problems, including manufactured equipment sequences of operation not performing correctly; control contractors not completing the required programming, incorrect programing especially of metering, and variable refrigerant flow systems, etc; use of wrong types of sensors for lighting and daylighting control; programming of supply and exhaust controllers to track properly in maintaining correct pressurization of the zone and the building; incorrect sensor locations; and a control contractor uploading the wrong version of programming after commissioning.

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

Enck: Interoperability or interaction between the building enclosure and the HVAC system, interoperability between the various HVAC components during various operating modes as well as emergency modes, interaction between HVAC components during each climate season, and the current use of the facility by the occupants must all be examined and analyzed to identify operational issues affecting the building's performance. CxGBS identifies these issues through testing, setting up data logging of specific data points, analyzing the information, and presenting the information to the relevant members of the design, construction, and operational team to work through and correct these issues.

Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
How to use IPD; 2017 Commissioning Giants; CFDs and harmonic mitigation; Eight steps to determine plumbing system requirements
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me