Have you ever tried to drive a car without a speedometer? What about using the emergency brake instead of the brake pedal? If so, then you have experienced operation without proper or adequate control. The necessary controls are all present, but not using them effectively, or at all, can make a big difference in a successful driving experience. The same basic concept can be applied to HVAC systems in K-12 school buildings. Having the right controls means nothing unless they are being used properly.
As engineers, it is important to look at how we are controlling our K-12 school HVAC systems for the spatial environment and comfort of the next generation. In many cases, we have utilized the latest, web-based, direct digital control system with BACnet protocol and all the components necessary to do the job, but are we in control? Are we missing pieces or simply miscommunicating the intended operation? Do we even know how well the controls are operating? I recently worked with a school district on their K-12 campus and found multiple missing pieces or misapplied devices that caused problems in HVAC and added energy costs. In this article, I discuss the various issues we found at the school and some solutions we used to resolve them.