Get to grips with controls

 IET, smart buildings, building controls, BMS, BEMS, BACS

Matt Brooks reviews a new publication which offers good practice guidance on building controls from specification to implementation and updates.

There is certainly no lack of detail in the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s latest resource, the Code of Practice for building automation and control systems (BACS). With 163 pages covering a range of different systems and controls, the book applies to all commercial and industrial installers within both the private and public sectors.

More specifically the publication, which is supported by the Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) is aimed at a range of people: building owners and operators; building services design engineers; contractors; specialist sub-contractors and technical project managers; commissioning engineers; building facilities managers and staff and visitors.

Cameron Steel of Molino Plus, the lead author of the resource, feels there are a range of people who could benefit from the tool: “Some of the people it is aimed at are designers, practitioners and maintenance professionals. We understand that not every reader will dive into every part of the code of the practice. Every reader will use different parts of the resource. There are takeaways for everyone.”

The objective of the document is to ‘provide knowledge, understanding and good practice on the guidance on the design, evaluation, implementation of and improvements to the use of automated controls.’

Steel explains what he feels the intention of the publication is: “The main purpose is to try and provide a holistic overview of building automation and control systems and how it fits in with the scale of a project. We hope the document will give people a better overview of how their field fits in with wider building industry.”

The aim of the resource is to provide clear information on BACS for a range of different installations. However, the authors also recognise that controls need to be tailored for differing buildings and user needs.

There are four main sections within the code: an introduction, building automation and control systems, BACS specification criteria and BACS operational criteria. Subtopics are listed in the contents with page numbers which allow readers go to specific pages immediately.

Within the book there is a number of different useful parts such as a design and operational assessment tool. This resource includes a summary of heating requirements for non-residential buildings with different measures showing how energy efficient they are compared to BACS classifications.

Similarly, there are tools covering requirements for hot water, cooling and ventilation and air-conditioning. Alongside these tools there are self-assessment questions for a whole host of topics including energy flow and mains services infrastructure, design development and energy management.

Security and resilience are also topics touched on in the Code of Practice. As the publication states: “Traditional BMS were originally developed as standalone systems, complete with their own infrastructure and user interfaces, which could only be accessed from inside a building or from a central hub on a wider campus-style estate.” Now however, control systems are increasingly connected, in some cases as part of a wider ICT or data network. Understandably, users are becoming more aware of the potential for security issues created by this link. The Code of Practice offers advice on standards that offer clear guidance on security for building controls.

 IET, smart buildings, building controls, BMS, BEMS, BACS

Standards form an important aspect of the Code of Practice and several are included such as BS EN ISO 50001 and ISO 50001:2011. Other standards such as BS EN 16484-1, BS EN 15232, BS EN 150 164 84 and BS EN 16247-2 are a focus within the document. BS EN 16484-1 covers the initial specification, construction and commissioning whilst BS EN 15232 is about operational energy performance using BACS. BS EN 150 164 84 deals with product specification, implementation, hardware and data communication and BS EN 16247-2 applies to energy audits in buildings providing a framework for correct information. Throughout the resource commentary is provided for different parts of the standards.

The relationship between standards such as BS EN 150 16484 – 1 and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stages is compared throughout the resource. It offers a commentary and matches the stages of designing, engineering, installation with the different RIBA stages of work. At each RIBA stage, the book says which assessments and surveys should be completed and it follows similar national and international standards.

The consequences of failing to meet a high standard are highlighted in the text. Potential outcomes of a low standard of work include increased safety risks, poor air quality and discomfort for users. The document states that designers and installers cannot rely on occupants to control systems manually and make the best use of the systems.

The standard assigns responsibility for different aspects of buildings which helps provide clarity. There are roles for a range of different stakeholders including owners, public authorities, designers, inspectors and control specialists.

Guidance is provided for clients to help them understand different projects, the expected outcomes and the different stages of a project. There is further advice with survey requirements and a design checklist which ensures that a thorough job is done.

Alongside this, the code of practice establishes what class current installations are and it shows how installations can be upgraded to higher classes. In turn it presents the long-term benefits of certain measures to deliver greater energy efficiency.

The recent Carbon Trust publication, CTV032 Technology Overview: Building Controls, is mentioned in the text which aims to inform readers. There are three main topics in the overview which are controlling through time, occupancy and condition. Controlling through time is achieved by using programming and schedules, occupancy can be achieved with occupancy sensors and condition is helped with environmental sensors.

Steel says what he would like people to take away from the book: “The resource will help define what the reader wants from a building automation control system and what are they trying to achieve.”

With a number of different purposes and a wealth of information, this resource could be very useful especially for non-experts who could gain more information and a greater insight into good practice.

The IET Code of Practice for Building Automation and Control Systems is available from the IET. See the link below to order online.

Picture credit:  iStock.com/alphaspirit 

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