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18 min read

SBA 216: Creating Your BAS Standard

By Phil Zito on Aug 24, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Topics: Podcasts

In this episode, we discuss our step-by-step process on how to create a building automation standard for your organization.

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Phil Zito 00:00

This is the smart buildings Academy podcast with Phil Zito Episode 216 Hey folks, welcome to the smart buildings Academy podcast. And this is Episode 216. In this episode we are going to be talking about creating your VA s standard. Before we do that I want to talk about a couple things that are going on right now just make you aware and then we'll get into the podcast. So first thing I want to make you aware is that at store dot smart buildings Academy comm we are running our construction season close out until the end of August. So you can save 20% off the cost of courses that you purchase using the coupon code. a UG 20 22nd thing I want to talk about is on September 2, we are going to be hosting a full day course. And that course is going to be on Creating standards. So what we'll do is that will be a small course of 10 people. So right now we have two signed up, so we have eight more spots. And in this course, you and I and a small group of people will be going through creating a BA standard for your organization, you'll be given the resources to create everything you need. In regards to standards, you'll be given standard examples, and we'll talk through the process of creating a standard for your organization. This is an incredibly important topic. That's why we're spending this entire episode talking about it so you can find out more information by going to podcast smart buildings academy.com forward slash 216 once again, that's podcast at smart buildings academy.com forward slash 216. So in this episode, we're going to be discussing the purpose of a standard we're going to talk about deciding where to store the standard which is A lot of people don't talk about but it's incredibly important because it affects what you can do with your standard. We are going to talk about identifying the purpose for your standard and how it will be managed. We're going to talk about creating the standard, how to create it and the standard categories that you would find. Alright, so first off, whenever you are creating a standard for your building automation system, you really should start off by identifying the purpose. Now some folks are creating standards for construction purposes. Some folks are creating them for operational purposes. Some folks are creating them for maintenance purposes. And I do want to note that there is a difference between operations and maintenance all be it's a subtle difference. It is a difference as you'll see as we move throughout the episode. So if you're dealing with a construction standard that is typically going to detail out day one, events, so things like how are we installing them The building automation system, how are we setting it up? How are we templating our graphics and our sequences, whereas an operational standard is going to be more around how do we operate the building. And usually this is more geared towards retrofit projects. And they'll be Hey, what are the standard graphics, we need to set up on this existing system and moving forward on all of our tenant improvements. So it's a little nuance there. And then a maintenance standard is more like an operations manual than a standard. And what it is, is it's more focused on common tasks that you perform. This is something I like to create with my customers back when I was doing service work is I would work with them to create a standard and then a B, a 's operational manual, and that ops manual would have common tasks that they would be performing. We would record videos of myself doing that or them doing that. And then we would document that and we would put steps in place because often Honestly, and, you know, this probably wasn't the best business decision in the short term. But in the long term, it definitely was a really good business decision because it drove a lot of work to my company. But what I looked at as, man,


Phil Zito 04:18

I'm giving this person the system, I'm giving this group of people the system, I really want them to be confident and doing things like setpoint changes and things like graphics updates, and being capable of doing that and then turning to me for the integration work, the strategy work, the upgrades, things like that the things that were complicated, and then their day to day tasks. They had a manual that they could follow to operate their buildings. Yeah, sure. I missed out on some PSA work, but my competitors never got in the door because I had such a tight relationship with people that I was able to go and really drive their business to another level by Giving them you know, integrations that improved their tenant experience by giving them strategies that improve the efficiency of both their equipment, as well as their resource utilization, not just energy, but their team resource utilization, repair parts, etc. So, understanding the purpose of the standard is really in my opinion where you should start. Once you understand that purpose, though, then you need to decide where the standard is stored. And this is something a lot of folks don't talk about. But it becomes increasingly important when you're utilizing maybe a multi or you're working with a multi regional company, or maybe a multinational company. And they have different standards depending on the country they're in or the state they're in the region they're in. And understanding this allows you to do a very important concept called version management. So if everything is paper, or it's a single word doc and someone changes that you do Not have version management. And what that means is that you have no way of tracking what changes are made. You have no way of iterating from a base standard multiple regional standards. And so what I really want you to focus on are thinking of things like Google Docs, or my personal favorite SharePoint, where you can do version management of word. I personally prefer word over Google Docs. It's just my personal preference, but you know, whatever works for you, either one allows version management and it allows based templating. And what I mean by base template is you have a base document. And then from that base document, you have duplicate documents that are basically child documents and they inherit pieces of the main document. I know this is a little technical, and it's something I talked through when I do my live sessions helping companies build their VA standards, as well as when we do our up course. But understanding this, what it allows you to do is have this base standard. And then maybe you're modifying your sequence of operations, because the sequence in Arizona is gonna be completely different than Florida, maybe for outdoor air control for enthalpy, control, etc. And so your sequence standards would be different at the sub level, but at the main level, your standard itself would be consistent. And this allows you to make changes at this top level standard, and then have these kind of regional standards make modifications to that top level standard without modifying it. I know that sounds a little circular logic and a little confusing, probably for Monday morning. But trust me, it's not that difficult to set up. And once you've got it set up, it really makes things nice. Now for those of you who have maybe have one or two buildings, you probably don't need all of that, and that's fine. And maybe you just use a Word doc. I still personally prefer using an online data store like Google Docs. like Amazon, or like Microsoft, in order to make sure that I have kind of a soft backup of my standard that's easily accessible and you know, if something happens, it's not going to totally get destroyed. If someone wipes their computer or someone accidentally spills coffee on it, you know, it's, it's not gonna go away. Now, the next thing up is to understand how we're going to manage the standards. So who's gonna have oversight of the standard in matrix organizations, this is typically multiple people, you may have an Energy Manager may have a facility manager, you may have construction manager, and all of them may want to have input into the standard. So understanding who owns what sections, how they will be updated, and definitely having a purpose log that or sorry, a revision log that says you know, what was revised, who revised it and really adhering to that revision log when changes are made. Maybe even having a process for evaluating changes. Maybe it looks like a simple board or group or steering meeting. But having a steering committee having that together is really going to help you to drive the standard to kind of


Phil Zito 09:18

be adopted and useful to multiple different working groups or business units within your company. So I really encourage you to do that whenever you use a standard, and you create a standard, you really shouldn't be doing it from scratch. There's so many resources out there. And what I provide to both our consulting customers and to our students of our VA standards course, is our standard template. And the important part of a standard template is that it's modular, flexible, easy to use and easy to adjust. So I like to keep my standards modular so that each module or each category Whatever you want to call it applies to only one piece of the standards. So for example, I've got it on my other screen right here. And if I scroll down and I look at under the standards category, there is a subsection called installation standards. And this covers specifically how the device will be installed, how to be wired, what color wire for the connections, how it will be mounted, what kind of panel will be used, and the network connections and how they will be connected and provided and how the controllers will be labeled. And you basically start to work on these little subsections. And these subsections stand alone. And why that becomes really important is where I tend to find that folks really struggle with standards is they create this giant like Omnibus document, and everything is intertwined. And so you make a minor change, and then it becomes overwhelming to understand where you're making all these changes. So by modularizing it and separating these into sub categories and categories, then you are able to really work on it piecemeal. And gradually create a standard because I feel that well, I don't just feel I know from my experience doing consulting, as well as doing these workshops, that one of the biggest barriers to standard creation is this concern, this fear, this belief that you have to do it all at once, which couldn't be any further from the truth. No, hey, you've got a tenant improvement coming up. Well, this might be a good time to work on your graphic standards and just create template graphics that you want people to use. And sometimes it's template graphics. And it's like very prescriptive, it's gonna be this exact graphic things are going to be placed exactly here. And sometimes it's an intent. You know, it doesn't have to be perfect. And I if you take one thing out of this episode, it would be that perfection is going to be your enemy of progress. Because the reality is a lot of you listening to this Your customers or you yourself, if you operate a building do not have a standard. And because you don't have a standard, any progress is improvement, right? So let's say that you get a naming standard. And that's all you get. Well, you've already progressed past many customers who do not have a naming standard. And so you may be saying to yourself, alright, where do I start? How do I create this thing? What do I put into it? I'm going to cover that in a second. But I want to dive a little bit deeper into this concept of categorization, subcategories and modular approach to standard creation. And the reason I want to dive into that is picture this right? You have a company with let's say, 10 buildings, big round number, right 10 buildings and each building has a different name for points. So some columns zone temps, some called room temp, some systems have space stamp, etc, etc. And what we have to realize is that Are you the experienced operator, or the experienced contractor, you may be able to initially rationalize and kind of figure out that zone temp, space temp and room temp are all the same thing. But To the untrained operator to maybe the maintenance person or the tenant who's utilizing these systems, that may not be clear. And so by simply creating a naming standard, you have provided clarity, you've provided one step closer to understanding and so now when this operator this engineer, this tenant, whoever goes to utilize the system, you only have to train them that space temp or zone temp, whatever you decide, is the measurement for an area's temperature. And you train them to look for that. So in reports in graphic analysis, and looking at the system, tree, whatever you decide, they only have to look at that and so as you start to develop that naming


Phil Zito 13:55

standard, and start to implement it throughout your organization, and I like to use naming stuff Because naming standard tends to be a approach that we can utilize. That is very straightforward. It really doesn't provide much system impact renaming points, you can usually do that pretty easily. And by doing that, you have now created a standard on which you can train people. And then so every time they go to a building no matter what the building is, it has the same naming so they know what to look for. As you extrapolate that further into standard graphics standard sequences, standard parts, standard installations, you get to a point where you can train your tenants train your customers, train your installers, train your operators, you can get all of these people on the same page, train them once, and then your project implementation costs are lower. Your cost of maintenance is lower your user experiences in proved. So start with little pieces, gradually built them up over time. And usually what I recommend your guiding principle be. And a guiding principle is kind of a, it's like something that casts a shadow over the entire standard. And it's saying, you know, this is the purpose This is whatever we do in the standard it is underlying going to be to achieve this guiding principle. So, my recommended guiding principle for when you create standards is that the standard improves the ability to understand the system. And that could be understanding the system from a installation perspective. That could be understanding the system from an operations perspective, that could be understanding the system from an interaction perspective, but the underlying guiding principle is system knowledge like understanding of the system. And once they understand that Then they're better able to utilize the system, install the system, execute the system, etc. Okay, I think you get the point now. So I'm gonna hop off that soapbox, and we're going to dive into the categories. These are the categories I recommend. And this is the order in which I recommend them. So when I'm teaching folks who go and create their standard for the organization, this is what I teach. So the first thing I recommend is how to use the document. And this is a kind of catch all that says, This is how we want you to use the document. This is what we want you to be aware of. This is how you're gonna fill this out. This is how you're going to do revision management, etc. So the next thing I recommend is that you have this general category. So that's category one, this category two general category, and the general category exists to describe your standard, its purpose, how to update the standard, the standard owner and the content tact for the standard. So the first thing I recommend is the purpose of the standard. This can and I recommend it is usually a couple sentences. If you're going beyond a couple sentences, then you're probably overthinking it. And your purpose is not clear enough, your purpose should be clear enough that it can be defined within a paragraph. If not, I would recommend you think about your purpose. Now I know this kind of new agey, oh, purpose and reason and all that stuff. I'm telling you spend some time on this. I know it's not sexy. It's not like super fun. But having the purpose and getting everyone aligned on the purpose is really going to save you a headache. And it's really going to be a useful tool for conflict resolution because it will not fail, especially if you've got multiple different business groups or business units that are utilizing the standard and providing input to the standard that their view of why this standard exists is going to conflict with yours or maybe just not be aligned and Having a purpose around the standard will provide that baseline alignment that everyone can agree on. Next is how to update the standard. This makes it very clear how we're going to update it with the processes. Is it a submission process? Is it a peer review? What is the process? Finally or Next you have the standard


Phil Zito 18:19

owner and the standard owner is going to dictate out you know who owns the standard who ultimately has oversight who has categorical categorical oversight, those kind of things. And then finally, you'll have contact information for the standard owner you know, especially in multi region or multinational companies, it's very important to have contact information. That way you know, because you may not even know who these people are, you may have never worked with them. The next category I like to look at is kind of this Omnibus category called vas standards. And it is going to describe a large area of standards is going to go through installation capacity naming, trending, alarming. scheduling etc. So the main focal points and I'll be a little brief on these just because I don't want to turn this into a crazy long podcast episode. But I already described installation it's all about how things get installed usually on the physical installation. Capacity standards is a very important one, especially if you're going to do any tenant improvements, or you plan on any expansion in the future. Having capacity built into your system is very important and will save you on retrofit costs in the future. Naming standards I can't emphasize enough how important naming standards are. These drive almost all success in your building automation system installation and operation. Trends standards. This describes how trending data is going to be recorded and stored very important because trends are extremely useful, especially nowadays with COVID and IQ trends are going to become even more important from a measurement validation perspective. So let's make sure we get them right. And we have context and proper trending. When we set those up alarming and scheduling standards, those are equally important because this is going to dictate out how notifications of errors are messaged and how systems are occupied and scheduled. Then we move into project standards. So this is going to be things around commissioning, how is proper Point to Point functional test done, how then we move into warranty standards. This is all about how projects are going to be managed during the warranty phase, how all of that's going to be managed. And then we have training standards, which is going to be around how are the occupants and operators trained to utilize the system and then we have documentation standards. The really nice part about this is if it's written properly in you know kind of CSI format, at least for those of us in the States. It can then be done. Directly imported into a specification and can be used to drive a specification for consistency. From there, we have device profiles standards, this is something I like to do where I will say, Okay, we have an air handler device, we have a rooftop device, we have a chiller device, we have a terminal unit device. This is what it's going to be. This is the sequence it's going to use. Here's its standard points. Here's its standard, alarming, here's the standard trending, etc. And so that if you say, Hey, I have 100 terminal units, 50 are reheat and 50 are cooling only. And I have, you know, to mixed air units and one outdoor air unit, I'm just making up numbers here. But if you have that you refer to these profile standards, they will have the standard for the sequence of operations, the standard for the point trending alarming. And so your contractors, especially if you work with the same group of contractors over and over again, can have programs and graphics and every Pre developed. And that should significantly reduce the cost of


Phil Zito 22:05

installation and construction. Because if you know, for every time I work on ABC company's business, I'm going to use this sequence and I'm going to use this points list, I'm going to use this trend and this alarm setup, then what that means is my cost of engineering, my cost of submittal, creation, my cost of installation, my cost of programming, my cost of commissioning, all of that is going to go down because it's all going to be a standardized, repeatable set of deliverables. And you may be thinking, yeah, but we use multiple different engineers across the country. Well, that's why you drive them to utilize your standards, you push back when they're like, always get to super unique sequence of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You're like, no, we're going to follow our sequence. And we're going to follow our standards because now organizationally, you only have to have one training process to implement your own have to have one parts list that you need to store for, you know, access parts. In case of service and maintenance, you only have to train your tenants on how to use the system once. And the nice thing about this properly implemented, you can do this across multiple different building automation systems. So you may have a tritium system a distech system, Siemens system Johnson system. But if you properly implement these device profile standards, while they'll look a little different, a little more nuanced in their programming and their UI, you can get them fairly similar, which will make your life so much easier. I have a another category called va a sequence standards. And this just expands upon the sequences that are used in the device profile standard. So I do mention that I do like to keep my standards separate and not interconnected. So this slightly violates that. But the reason I do this is so that if I have a commissioning, or a consulting engineer, I can just pull this part out and give it to them, so that they understand my expectation. Although in an ideal world, I would prefer them to use category five, which is device profile standards. So that's up to you if you want to do that. Some organizations choose to do that some don't. Next, we have the big schedule standards. This is describing our standard schedules for our spaces. So we have our space types. And we have our schedules for our space types. Then we have our report standards, I highly encourage this, these are the standard reports that should be created. And when you're thinking about this, you want to think about what information do I need to drive the operation and success of my business? And that is what drives the report standards. It'll drive what kind of reports are created. Next up, we have category nine, which is Integration standards. This lists out what the standard integrations you're going to use. The reality is haven't done a ton of integrations, having personally managed the integration program at Johnson Controls, which is really large integration program and we did a lot of complex integrations. I will tell you that when you're developing integrations, if you develop standards, you know, AV to lighting to be IAS or access control to be as a parking management to be as or healthcare information systems to be as whatever it is, you develop these standards and then you'll find that the data sets are pretty similar despite whatever manufacturer it is. And once you have the standard created, it makes the cost of integration design, implementation and commissioning much lower. Then we move into the is it standards This is going to detail out your policies for your IT organization. This will make working with your IT group much easier, both for yourself as well as for For your contractors. And the really nice part about it, the reason I like doing this is if you do this with like a director or VP of it and you get this all aligned, then what happens is when your contractor or yourself are requesting IP addresses or requesting a virtual machine requesting remote connectivity, as long as this is aligned with the it policies for your organization, there should in theory be no pushback, because you are saying, Hey, you know what we are going to do? What is the policy for you, Mr. It group and Mrs. It group, and we're going to say this is what your policy is, and we're just following the policies. So I don't know why you're pushing back when we're doing exactly what you said we should do. And in my experience, that largely mitigates a lot of IT issues. And so I like to look at it from system administration perspective. I like to look at it from a network perspective. I like to Look at it from a database perspective. And I like to look at it from a cybersecurity perspective. So all of that together enables me to really provide a good sight picture of what I want my system to look like, how I want my system installed, how I want it set up how I want it executed. And I'm telling you, it does take some time to set up, I'm not gonna lie to you and tell you it doesn't. And it's a little bit of work upfront. But if you set aside a little bit of time, like, you know, you say, hey, four hours every month, we're going to work on this, and you start working on it within, you know, 12 months, that's 40 hours. That's a full work week that you have invested into developing a standard. And I will tell you many times when I do consulting engagements with companies were able to develop their standard within two to three working days, at least, their version In one of their standards enough to be functional, so having five working days over the course of the year, you can actually go and develop some decent standards. So I would encourage you highly follow this methodology, identify your purpose, implement your standard work on it piece by piece, identify who owns what, and drive this standard creation, it will save you so much in dollars. It'll save you so much in time and it'll save you so much in headache by making your system standardized making it easier to install, easier to operate and easier to support. So I really encourage you to check this out. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comment section, either below this podcast episode or below the video depending where you're listening to this and I really encourage you to go to store dot smart buildings Academy COMM And check out our video Standard course that's coming up


Phil Zito 29:02

on September 2, as well as to take advantage of our 20% off course discount for the month of August 2020. You can find out more information about that at podcast smart buildings academy.com forward slash 216. Thanks a ton and take care

Phil Zito

Written by Phil Zito

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