We talk with a building automation expert about common operating mistakes that can reduce system performance.

Common Building Automation System Mistakes


Senior Engineer and Certified Energy Manager Mike Carter talks with Phil Zito, founder and CEO of Smart Buildings Academy, about common building automation system mistakes.

Even though building automation systems, or BAS, have been available for a few decades, users are still making critical mistakes. What are the top mistakes that facility managers make with BAS?

The most common problem is not having a culture around using the building automation system. That's the primary issue — people not seeing the value of a building automation system, not engaging with it and not utilizing it beyond when the CEO's room is too hot or some patient is too cold.

The second concern is the lack of standardization. Here is what happens when you create a standard:

  1. Hold people accountable. You can hold the designers and contractors accountable because you know what should be delivered.
  2. Train operators once. If everything is named the same and the graphics look the same, you can train your operators once and they can go from building to building with minimal training because they understand what to look for.
  3. Easier to identify problems. If every sequence is different, if every point is different, if every graph is different, it makes it difficult to look at one air handler graphic and another and say that one doesn't look right because the other looks completely opposite. However, if they all look the same, it's easy to notice when something doesn't look right.

What is the best way to avoid making common mistakes?

The first thing is to invest in your team, invest in your talent. Identify the common use cases that you're going to perform, have the contractor videotape them and put the files on a drive that's accessible on the internal network. Then just make that part of your onboarding process.

What are the consequences of a set-it-and-forget-it mentality with BAS?

Setting it and forgetting it is a risk decision. This is how you should look at any decision involving building automation — it's just like cybersecurity. It's the likelihood of the occurrence times the cost of the occurrence, and that equals the control level you want to put in place to mitigate that occurrence.

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