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Why is chapter 15 important to our industry?

  Review ASHRAE GreenGuide
 by Ken Sinclair

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A Guide for the Design, Construction, and Operation of Sustainable Buildings

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This is one of the best documentations of our Building Automation Industry's role in Green Building Design that I have seen.

ASHRAE GreenGuide aims to help you answer your biggest question—“What do I do now?” Using an integrated, building systems perspective, it gives you the need-to-know information on what to do, where to turn, what to suggest, and how to interact with other members of the design team in a productive way. Information is provided on each stage of the building process, from planning to operation and maintenance of a facility, with emphasis on teamwork and close coordination among interested parties.

Why is chapter 15 important to our industry?

Building control systems play an important part in the operation of a building and determine whether many of the green design aspects included in the original plan actually function as intended. Controls for HVAC and related systems have evolved over the years, but in general, they can be described as either distributed (local) or centralized. Local controls are generally packaged devices that are provided with the equipment. A building automation system (BAS), on the other hand, is a form of central control capable of coordinating local control operation and controlling HVAC and other systems (e.g., life-safety, lighting, water distribution, and security from a central location). Control systems are at the core of building performance. When they work well, the indoor environment promotes productivity with the lighting, comfort, and ventilation people need to carry out their tasks effectively and efficiently. When they break down, the results are higher utility bills, loss of productivity, and discomfort. In modern buildings, direct digital control systems operate lights, chilled- or hot-water plants, ventilation, space temperature and humidity control, plumbing systems, electrical systems, life-safety systems, and other building systems. These control systems can assist in conserving resources through the scheduling, staging, modulation, and optimization of equipment to meet the needs of the occupants and systems that they are designed to serve. The control system can assist with operation and maintenance through the accumulation of equipment runtimes, display of trend logs, use of part-load performance modeling equations, and automated alarms. Finally, the control system can interface with a central repository for building maintenance information where operation and maintenance manuals or equipment ratings, such as pump curves, are stored as electronic documents available through a hyperlink on the control system graphic for the appropriate system.

This chapter presents the key issues to designing, commissioning, and maintaining control systems for optimal performance.

Reliable Controls This chapter is divided into seven sections as follows: Chapter 15: Building Automation Systems

• Control System Role in Delivering Energy Efficiency. Through scheduling, optimal loading and unloading, optimal setpoint determination, and fault detection, controls have the capability of reducing building energy usage by up to 20% (or sometimes even more) in a typical commercial building.

• Control System Role in Delivering Water Efficiency. Used primarily in landscape irrigation and leak detection, controls can significantly reduce water usage compared to systems with simplistic control (such as time clock-based irrigation controllers). Building controls can also provide trending and alarming for potable and nonpotable water usage.

• Control System Role in Delivering Indoor Envirommental Quality (IEQ). In most commercial buildings, controls play a crucial role in providing IEQ. Controls can regulate the quantities of outdoor air brought into the building based on occupancy levels, zone ventilation, zone temperature, and relative humidity, and can monitor the loading of air filters.

• Control System Commissioning Process. Of all the building systems, controls are the most susceptible to problems in installation. These can be addressed by a thorough process of commissioning and postcommissioning performance verification.

• Control System Role in Attaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDŽ) Certification. This section describes the elements of LEED certification that can be addressed by control system design and implementation.

• Designing for Sustained Efficiency. Control systems help ensure continued efficient building operation by enabling measurement and verification (M&V) of building performance and serving as a repository of maintenance procedures.

Chapter 15 provides a great overview of  the control systems' roles in Green Building design while providing connection to how to obtain LEED credits;


In Chapter 7, the LEEDŽ and other green building rating programs are discussed. This section explicitly discusses how controls can be used in various sections of the LEED 2009 Green Building Operations and Maintenance (USGBC 2009) (for existing buildings) and the LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations (USGBC 2009). (These are the latest versions in effect as of this writing.) A BAS or building control system can be of great assistance with the certification and maintaining certification for existing buildings under the LEED-Existing Building program, but the impact is dependent on the type of control system available within the building. This section on LEED and controls will connect control methods discussed earlier in this chapter with either of the two LEED rating systems cited above. The credit areas that can be affected include the following:

Be sure to get your copy of this important guide and work with your consultants and clients to insure that their projects are automatically green forever

How can non ASHRAE members get this guide?

The guide is available at ASHRAE's online bookstore at member and non-member pricing.  The book also has a student price and is encouraged for use in classroom instruction in engineering, construction and architectural curricula.

ASHRAE has a vast resources available to the building community to reduce the environmental footprint of buildings.  Standards 189.1 and 90.1 come to immediate mind.


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