<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2854636358152850&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
8 min read

SBA 300: BAS Designer

By Phil Zito on Nov 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Topics: Podcasts

In this episode we discuss the BAS Designer role.

  • What is a BAS Designer?
  • What does a BAS Designer do?
  • What skills does a BAS Designer require?
  • How do you get hired as a BAS Designer?

Click here to download or listen to this episode now.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Subscribe via iTunes

Subscribe via Stitcher


Phil Zito 0:00
This is the smart buildings Academy podcast with Phil Zito episode 300. Hey folks, Phil Zito here and welcome to episode 300 of the smart buildings Academy podcast. In this episode, we are going to talk about the BAS designer role. So we're going to talk about what this role covers what this role does needs to know and how you get into this role. Now, the BAS designer, in my opinion, is one of the most under appreciated roles in building automation. It has the most direct effect on whether a project goes well or does not, but yet gets, in my opinion, once again, the least amount of training. I recall many times that to be a BS designer, you just basically do your time as a technician and then you stop off as a designer for a couple years or maybe a couple months. And then you're a programmer. Whoo. But the BAS designer is a critically important role and by regular gating it to this kind of intermediary stop between the technician role in the program, programmer role. I feel like we're doing it a great disservice. So what does a BAS designer do? Well, if you've listened to our previous episodes, you know that one of the key aspects of project success is having a good takeoff, having good submittals having good as built and close out documents, all of those the BAS designer is involved in and then beyond that the BAS designer may be involved in things like graphics may be involved in things like setting up graphics and interfaces for test and balance and commissioning, could be doing a variety of things. But the the big things are going and reviewing the sales to operations handoff, reviewing those documents and ensuring that they actually make sense going and creating the initial submittal set as well as the installation documents for your contractors that are out in the field, your electrical subcontractors and whatnot. And also going and taking all of your documentation from field install in the form of red lines, and converting those to as belts for your final owner and maintenance or operations and maintenance manual or O and M documents. So that is what a designer does. While doing that a designer may be required to go and do valve sizing may be required to go and do damper sizing may be required to select specific integration options, or unique input and output devices that require engineering. So there is a science, it's not just selecting parts. And that's what I find a lot of people who manage ops teams, it's kind of a 5050 split, you've either got folks who have been in the field or you've got folks who have never been in the field, the folks who have been in the field, I find take the time to train their designers and ensure that they have the technical aptitude to execute. But the fields folks who have not served in the field, they look at the designer as basically a glorified part selector, which is a really bad way to look at the designer role. Because improperly engineering and I use the word engineering purposely because a lot of what the designer does is going to be engineering. Anyone can lay out a network riser but how you lay it out whether you decide to do 30 devices or 60 devices on a trunk run based on maybe length of run or potential access. These are things and nuances that the designer will learn over time. So that brings us up to the question of how do you learn to be a designer? Well, like the technician role, you need to have a baseline knowledge of Bas, HVAC, and electrical those are kind of core knowledge skills. Beyond that, though, you need to have a more advanced knowledge of parts and pieces for building automation systems. Like off the top of your head, you should understand what safeties, what common inputs, what common outputs, you know, temperature actuators, etc,

Phil Zito 4:40
that you're going to be selecting that should be you know, stuff that well you may not have it memorized, you at least know where to find it immediately and you know how to select the different devices. So how do you get to the point where you have that knowledge? Well, it's a combination as much as I rally against OG. it because I feel like on the job training is an excuse for keeping people in a role for way too long. There is an OJT component to this, but done right, it can be achieved fairly shortly. The reality is the majority of what a designer is going to be doing is repetitive. But it does require knowledge and understanding. Once you've learned how to size and select valves, it's pretty easy to continue sizing and selecting valves moving forward. Sure, there will be nuances of special scenarios where you're having to do some really goofy valve setup. But the majority of the time, right, it's going to be those two to four inch ball valves or, you know, butterfly valves, right, just common basic valve types that you're going to be sizing and selecting for your different building automation system needs. That also takes us into things like Flow Meters, pressure meters, you know, back when I started pressure meters that were much more difficult to select. Now you've got universal pressure meters that know you pick one, and they can do so many different ranges. So you've got that benefit. But as you're seeing, understanding the IO, understanding the parts and pieces, and really understanding the protocols, understanding what the protocol limitations are understanding, hey, I'm looking at this BACnet rooftop points list. And I realized that these are all AI's, and I understand those are read only points. So the likelihood of us being able to control this because it doesn't have any AV user ayos is unlikely. So this is a red flag I need to raise up these are things that come with time and experience. Fortunately, you've experienced this once, then you pretty much carry that knowledge for it on every design you've done. That's why I say it doesn't require as much OJT as it does. And you can augment this, you can augment this by going in establishing this core knowledge. In addition to this, the next thing I'll point out, that is really under appreciated with design is proper electrical details and proper panel layouts. So not everyone has a panel shop. So having an electrical or sorry, a designer who is able to go into CAD or whatever you're using and do panel layouts at scale, so that they can be built, that's super helpful. Additionally, being able to build out electrical details, so that the electrician literally just has to follow the electrical detail in the designs middle is also an incredibly valuable skill. So you've got all that, right, you've got all this submittal creation knowledge that requires it Bas and H fac skills. Also some electrical skills as well. But then you've got you know, designers being asked to do graphics designers being asked to do things with point layouts and reporting and stuff like that. And in those cases, this is where you need to lean more heavily on the BAS knowledge. And there's one of the reasons I see technicians move into the designer role, because they have that basic graphic setup knowledge,

Phil Zito 8:18
they have that basic, you know, reporting setup knowledge, that doesn't necessarily require the skill level of a BAS programmer, but at the same time, it requires a higher skill level than a BAS technician. So how do you get this kind of role? What can you do? While you could go in as a BAS technician, which I highly recommend, and then move into a designer role, I feel like having you know, at least six months of field experience really just makes you appreciate what the design conditions are for the sites that you're going to be designing systems for. And so you can appreciate the sensitivities to, Hey, I just because I can do a single trunk from a supervisory device that's 5000 feet long, does not mean that that is necessarily the best layout, it may make more sense for me to have a couple more supervisory devices and significantly shorter runs. And that may be something I want to bring up to the salesperson who's saying, hey, it's a one storey building, you could put a Single Supervisory device in there and just run a big circle loop. Yeah, maybe you can do that. But that introduces points of failure that introduces complexities. And it may just be easier to do four supervisory devices, one in each corner. This is stuff you only really start to pick up. If you're out there in the field, doing this on a day to day basis, then you start to appreciate, oh, hey, that's why I should do this. That's why I should have you know, these kind of layouts with my supervisory devices. So how do you get this role? Like I said, you can begin as a technician, but we have had a lot of people People who come out of school with electrical engineering or mechanical engineering degrees, and they go through our designer path, and they get hired by companies or companies rather hire them and put them through the designer path. And that is how they get placed. The same rules apply on how to use LinkedIn to go and connect to owners or managers of the specific company you want to get hired by I'm not going to go through that, again, I went through that in episode 299. But I encourage you, you know, don't try to just get through HR screenings, you know, once again, it's a lot easier to go directly to the hiring manager. So that's it for designers and these next several episodes, they're going to be about 10 minutes each, it's where I'm trying to keep them because the end of the day, the describing these roles is pretty simple. If you have any questions maybe you're curious about this kind of role, maybe you're curious about another roll please go to podcast that smart buildings academy.com forward slash 300 Once again, that is podcast that smart buildings academy.com Ford slash 300. I'd love to talk to you about whatever questions you have related to getting the job in building automation. Thanks a ton and take care

Phil Zito

Written by Phil Zito

Want to be a guest on the Podcast?