The U.S. building industry tries to keep up with the pace of efficiency abroad.

On many projects, controls and BAS are considered necessary evils, seen as an essential part of a project, but also as frustrating and problematic. Often, controls design is completed late in the project and, in many cases, with inadequate attention to detail. As a result, it is fairly common for project teams to cite controls as one of the most problematic areas of a project, complaining about comfort issues, performance, and operations.

Many of us have been promoting the idea of the intelligent or smart building where open control systems are integrated and optimized and then become part of the IT system. This is a great concept but requires a significant focus on control system design, starting early in the project process to succeed. As a result, it is not commonly pursued. We are now, however, seeing fundamental industry changes that are going to make high performance control systems a necessity.

What changes?

There is an industry shift toward the delivery of high performance and ultimately “net zero energy” buildings. The definition of expected performance levels and schedules for performance have been set and early adopters, including progressive states like California and the federal government, have mandated net-zero buildings by 2025.

ASHRAE has issued Standard 189.1, a new high-performance building standard, and will publish a new version of 90.1, the energy efficiency standard, later this year. Note that the goal for the 2010 version of 90.1 is to improve overall efficiency by 30% over the 2004 version! Expect to see this continue to require improved performance over the next 10 to 15 years.

So how do we meet these requirements?

The DOE and other groups worldwide are funding extensive research efforts.

In Europe, leading edge buildings show that it is possible to achieve a comfortable, high-performance building that uses 75% less energy than the typical U.S. building. While the delivery of high-performance buildings requires some new approaches including separating heating and cooling from ventilation, the most important change is in building controls and automation. Delivering measurable, verifiable, and sustained efficiency requires a high-performance integrated control solution, making control system design an essential element for success.

Learning More

In June, the Building Intelligence Group and Engineered Systems will hold the first Sustainable Solutions Conference. This event will provide information on how to engineer high-performance buildings. We will have sessions focused on system options, design, delivery, and operations of high-performance buildings, with an emphasis on both new buildings as well as evaluating and improving existing projects.

This gathering will replace and expand upon the longstanding Green Intelligent Buildings event, continuing to provide strong content on controls and automation while adding content on other building systems, products, and processes. We invite you to join us in Chicago as we work together through these exciting and challenging changes. For more details on the conference, please visit. ES