Optimizing Your Building Automation Systems (BAS): Start Here for Easy, Cost-Effective Solutions

Scott Brian, CCP

Senior Commissioning Agent

In the world of Smart Buildings and IOT (Internet of Things), the Building Automation System (BAS) has a critical role. The BAS can be much more than an enhanced time clock and/or setpoint optimizer. It can (and arguably should) play a critical role in an energy efficient strategy, empowering operators with real-time performance data, while maintaining safe and comfortable conditions for occupants. 

The key is aligning programming commands with actual operations. The following are relatively easy, low-cost tactics to optimize your BAS: 

  1. Economizer Control Management – Nothing better than Free!
    • Strategic Installation: The geographic location is pivotal in maximizing savings through economizer control, enhancing free-cooling efforts. 
    • Active Monitoring: Ensure its functionality – be aware of other impacting sequences, to maintain comfort and energy efficiency. Example: Sequences such as building pressure control can adversely affect the dampers when a sensor becomes invalid. It can operate the dampers in a way to negatively impact economizer (free cooling) control.  
    • Operator Overrides: Avoid “setting and forgetting” overrides that disable optimizations; instead, investigate root causes diligently. Run frequent reports from the BAS showing what points are in override. 
  1. Alarm Console Utilization – Step #1 towards building analytics
    • Nuisance Alarm Resolution 
      • Tune alarm setpoints and parameters (delays) to prevent nuisance alarms (for non-concerning issues).  
      • Work towards resolving alarms as operators perform work orders and Preventative Maintenance Tasks on scheduled equipment Example: If an AHU is scheduled for a PM also check for any BAS Alarms prior to beginning PM.  
      • Actively incorporating alarm resolution will prevent unnecessary system noise and, allowing an operator to see what is truly an operational issue in the building. 
      • Implement hierarchical alarm suppression: Allow the BAS to suppress specific alarms on equipment that is being served by larger equipment/ system in alarm.  
    • Alarm Classification: Develop alarm classes tailored to recipient expertise, enabling specific, organized notifications. 
    • Email Notifications: Leverage email alerts as an initial layer of analytics for prompt issue identification and resolution. 
  1. Curbing Simultaneous Heating and Cooling
    • Standardize Set Points: Implement standardized set points across similar space types for consistency. 
    • Deadband Maximization: Enhance energy savings by expanding the deadband between heating and cooling modes. 
    • Terminal Unit and Sensor Coordination: Ensure spaces with multiple units and sensors have synchronized heating/cooling modes. 
  1. Implement Intelligent Optimizations 
    • Air Handlers: Optimize supply air temperature and duct static pressure set points. 
    • Pumps: Optimize differential pressure set points. 
    • Chillers/Boilers: Innovate with leaving temperature set point optimizations. 
    • Cooling Towers: Use Outside Air wet bulb condenser water supply temperature set point resets for enhanced efficiency. 
  1. Streamline System Navigation with Custom Graphics
    • Collaborative Creation: Work alongside your controls contractor to develop intuitive graphical summary pages, reducing system navigation efforts. Reduce the number of mouse clicks it takes to get the information you need. 
    • Power of a Screen Shot: Providing a screen shoot is one of the most effective ways to share what you are seeing and asking for support. 
      • Every graphic should have all the points needed to know the outside conditions, and systems serving the unit in question. Example: A terminal unit graphic should show what AHU is serving it, and the supply air temperature and duct static pressure. Also show heating hot water supply temperature near the re-heat coil. 
  1. Distinguish Between Occupied and Unoccupied States
    • Occupancy Awareness: Understanding your building’s usage patterns is crucial for optimal scheduling. 
    • Smart Scheduling: Schedule unoccupied modes for unused building zones to conserve energy — a simple, impactful programming change. 
    • Sensor Integration: Leverage occupancy sensors within lighting controls, or as standalone devices, for automatic adjustments. 

Small Steps Lead to Great Leaps: Even addressing one item at a time can culminate in significant benefits over time. Remember, inaction has its costs. 

Local Incentives: Lastly, explore local utility rebate programs aimed at retrocommissioning. These may provide financial offsets for your optimization efforts, further enhancing the ROI of your BAS upgrades. 

By systematically approaching BAS optimization with these low-cost, impactful strategies, you not only improve system performance and energy efficiency but also contribute to a more sustainable operation model for your enterprise. 

Adam Sachs, PE

Associate, Mechanical Engineer

Amy Pitts, MBA, BSN, RN

Medical Equipment Project Manager

Andy Neathery

Technology BIM Specialist

Angela Howell, BSN, RN

Senior Associate, Medical Equipment Project Manager

Anjali Wale, PE, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Senior Electrical Engineer

Austin Barolin, PE, CEM, LEED AP O&M

Senior Associate, Senior Energy Analyst

Beth Bell

Principal, Chief Financial Officer

Bilal Malik

Associate, Senior Electrical Designer

Brennan Schumacher, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Lighting Design Studio Leader

Brian Hageman, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Plumbing Discipline Lead

Brian Hans, PE, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Brian J. Lottis, LEED AP BD+C

Associate, Senior Mechanical Designer

Brianne Copes, PE, LEED AP

Senior Associate, Mechanical Engineer

Bryen Sackenheim

Principal, Technology Practice Leader

Carolyn Carey

Medical Equipment Project Manager

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