Building Commissioning
ASHRAE Technical Committee 7.9

Research Planning

Planned Research Activities Priority 1

Title:  RTAR 2005-57: Utilization of Random Sampling Technology in Performing Building Commissioning
Author:  Jay Enck
Documents:  RTAR, RAC Comments

June 2015: Liz would be interested in including some questions about this in the members survey BCA is about to send out. She could survey a broader audience than just the BCA membership. Lee would be willing to help put together some questions, and Kristin will review the questions. Objective would be to find out what people do and to identify best practices. How many people are doing sampling, what are they sampling, and why are they doing it? Are there hybrid approaches in use? Lee will draft a set of questions for review by July 21st. Reviewers will respond by August 10th. Most questions should be multiple choice or ranking type questions. Some can be open-ended.

January 2015: At the forum, people were not interested in using statistical sampling. Even those who were opposed to sampling were surprised that the opinions were so universally against it. Lee's firm does statistical sampling for equipment like VAV boxes, but most people who attended the forum do not do that. Would it be better to do a survey of commissioning practitioners to find out what they actually do? Lee will call Chad Dorgan and find out what alternative statistical approach used in the building industry today could be used in commissioning. We could do an on-line survey to find out what people are actually doing. Kristin is willing to help put the survey together if Lee and Liz contribute to the questions.

June 2014: Lee is running a forum at this ASHRAE, right before the TC meeting. He will use input from that forum to decide whether to draft a new RTAR. He can use material from the old RTARs if it is useful. He has several potential helpers for reviewing what he comes up with, potentially including Jay Enck, who had volunteered before.

January 2013: Chuck Dorgan is going to help with the RTAR. Jay needs someone to help him with the work statement once the RTAR is approved. One question that has arisen is whether sampling is still necessary in a world where you can collect big data and effectively sample everything. The question of sampling probably relates more to budgetary limitations on field testing. Systems that are connected to BAS probably do not require random sampling, because electronic data collection from every piece of equipment is so inexpensive. Question is how to state the statistical reliability of the overall process, based on the statistical reliability of the individual tests. Ideal world: do an experiment where field tech testing results are compared against BAS trending analysis against a careful analysis of the tested equipment by experts. This would be used to develop a tool that could help decide what reliability you would get from a budget that would allow you to test a specific percentage of the equipment, or conversely how much it would cost to get a specific reliability. We should start with a review of what’s currently typical and what is best practice. How often is current typical practice failing to provide adequate reliability? How often are we spending more money than we need to? This RTAR doesn’t cover things like spot checking the design, but the same principles apply.

June 2012: No one was at meeting to discuss updates. We suggest that Jay work with Chuck Dorgan and Karl Stum. We had a discussion and decided that there is still not a consensus in the industry about whether or not random sampling is acceptable practice in commissioning, (ref. duct testing in ICC) and this project is important. There was discussion about whether or not ASHRAE would take on any liability if it promoted sampling, but if we just do the research and report the results it shouldn't be a problem.

June 11: Karl Stum knows a lot about this topic and could perhaps help Jay develop the RTAR. There is not agreement in the industry on how to do random sampling, so there is a need.

Jan 11: Dave seems to have dropped the ball on contacting Mike Vaughn about the RAC response. He just sent an e-mail to Mike about it now, on the 18th of January, 2011. That is now in hand and has been forwarded to Jay. Jay's next step would be to develop a new version of the RTAR that responds to the comment from RAC. He will send something out for us to look at by the 6th of February.

Jan 10: Jay is willing to carry this RTAR forward with some help from Kristin. Dave met with Jay in the hall after the research subcommittee meeting and provided him with both the most recent RTAR document and the previous one, in PDF format. The RAC response to the RTAR has gone missing, so Dave will ask Mike Vaughan by e-mail if we can get a copy of that.


Planned Research Activities Priority 2

Title:  WS 1241 - Impact of Commissioning HVAC Systems on Life Cycle Cost
Author:  Natascha Milesi-Ferretti
Documents:  RTAR, Work Statement, RAC comments, Bruce Hunn's DASH presentation

June 2015: Natascha contacted Aurora to get access to the database. She thinks it's a good tool, but it doesn't have much data in it. Reinhard suggested using a cloud-based spreadsheet tool. Natascha hasn't connected with Reinhard to find out exactly how that would be set up. Collecting cost data poses anti-trust issues for most organizations. May need to involve a government organization such as NIBS to avoid a legal problem. Could Portfolio Manager have some fields added to capture this data? Natascha will continue to investigate the technical aspects of collecting the data, with Reinhard's help. Liz will work on the legal aspects. Objective is to have a go/no-go decision on doing an RTAR by Orlando. Further update: Reinhard, Dave, and Natascha reviewed DASH over lunch after the meeting and explored its interface and the commissioning report it generates. We concluded that there is a lot of value there and that it's worth trying to capitalize on the development that has gone into it so far. The critical need is to get more data into it. People would likely be willing to put more into it if they could get useful information back out, and you need a statistically valid dataset for that to happen, so it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. We need to find out what funding mechnisms ASHRAE has (if any) to further improve DASH and to try to get more data into it. Reinhard will approach some of his colleagues to try to find out more.

January 2015: Should we write an RTAR about getting more data into DASH and putting some investment into it? It is identified as the top Cx research gap in the roadmapping webinar. We should be working on an RTAR in this area. The authors of the RTAR should assess whether DASH is a good approach and, if not, recommend something else. These people will help Natascha: Dave, Steve, and Dave will try to get Reinhard interested.

June 2014: Dave met with Bruce Hunn on Sunday morning at this ASHRAE. Based on that meeting and, with the knowledge that this area of research is the top priority according to our webinar participants, it seems there is potential for ASHRAE to get involved. This could include taking DASH under our wing, helping to get more data into it, doing research into how to improve the data input, figuring out how to connect the LBNL Mills collection of data with the DASH collection. Utilities may also have data that would fit into this larger effort. Building EQ and a European database. Someone should write an RTAR.

Jan 2014: Would ASHRAE be receptive to funding an effort to populate the DASH database with more data on life cycle costs? Dave will ask our research liaison if there is any point in putting together an RTAR on that topic.

June 2013: Research subcommittee would like to know if there is an answer on the impact of commissioning on life cycle costs, based on the results of the DASH database project. JR will contact Bruce Hunn.

June 12: Natascha reported on DASH Database project, following onto Annex 47, collecting case studies on Cx costs over life cycle. Bruce Hunn is involved with that, and there's a meeting on Sunday, but Natascha is not available to attend. Ken will check with Bruce to see if we should have anyone at the meeting (Sunday 4:15-6:00, Bowie A). Did anyone attend?

June 11: Ken Peet, Jay Enck, and Gerry Kettler did attend the dash meeting in March. Ken will brainstorm with the others and bring any ideas forward. They will bring ideas by next meeting. Can be either in RTAR form or a bulleted list of ideas.

Jan 11: The final report is now done and posted on the IEA Annex 47 website - main output was the methodology. The expansion of the ASHRAE dash project is also relevant to this work - their plan is to establish measure lists and data protocols, establish web interface, populate with commissioning cost and benefit data. Work has started on some of this. Starting with an LBNL study and the Annex 47 work. Data collection will start in July. There is a meeting here in Las Vegas to coordinate the work between the ASHRAE dash project and the best practices committee. Bruce Hunn is lead contact. Our work should be to work with dash and help guide it. Ken will attend a meeting about dash in March and will bring ideas for a new scope we can talk about in Montreal.

Jan 10: This WS needs to be re-scoped in light of IEA Annex 47, which now has a final report under review. Annex 47 did a review of approaches to determine cost/benefit of both initial and existing commissioning. It also developed a data protocol and now has collected data on 54 buildings, about 9 or 10 of them new buildings and the rest existing. It exists as a set of spreadsheets, with a protocol for collecting the information to add more buildings. Follow on work could include gathering more cases, and completing the data for some of the ones they have. Understanding of commissioning also varies by country. The data requirements of the protocol are extensive enough that in Canada they have usually had to pay for collection. It might be good to narrow the scope a bit, by focusing on one building type, or specific commissioning approaches. Next step for us would be to draft a new RTAR after the Annex 47 report is final. Natascha has volunteered to take this forward.

Planned Research Activities Not Prioritized

Title:  Human Factors in Operations-phase Commissioning
Author:  Michael Bobker

June 2015: Guideline 1.4 has been issued and represents some new work in this general area. Kristin will work on improving the title for this topic. Reinhard will assist Kristin in tightening up the title and description for this research area. Objective will be to have a go/no-go decision on writing an RTAR by Orlando.

January 2015: No update.

June 2014: The focus should probably not be the technology, but instead to focus on success stories of jobs with measurable results, focusing on the human factors - the institutional aspects of getting the right information into the hands of the operators so that they can actually act on it. Dave Moser and Reinhard Seidl will work together to think about whether there is a potential RTAR here.

June 13: Kristin will ask Michael about the status, and whether he is interested in continuing to champion this.

Jan 13: Dave met with Michael at the research chairs breakfast and the status is unchanged.

June 2012: Kristin reported no progress.

June 11: Kristin got in touch with Michael Bobker and he is still interested in working on this and will work on developing it further. There is a great deal of data from ASHRAE's headquarters building. TC 7.3 is wondering about using that data for education purposes and whether it should be an RTAR or go through ALI. Could they use the ASHRAE headquarters system as a classroom, with lab modules to teach engineers and operators building control techniques?

Jan 11: Kristin will follow up with him to find out more about this.

June 08: Define and consider the human factors impacts on the acceptance and implementation of findings by building operators from emerging technology represented by tools and platforms for on-going commissioning, FDD, and remote monitoring. Human factors engineering can be applied for improved performance. This research can be seen as an add-on phase to the current generation of research projects and pilots that are developing and testing such tools and platforms. Early findings suggest that there are barriers to resolve on the operations staff side in making full use of the emergent technology. This work would be coordinated with TRG-7's work under the Strategic Plan Objectives.

Title:  Modeling of Energy Impacts of Faults found by Commissioning
Author:  Kristin Heinemeier
Documents:  RTAR


June 2014: This one no longer has a champion, so there is no action at this meeting. There is a draft RTAR, so anyone who wanted to take it on would have a head start. For now, it will not move forward at this meeting.

June 2013: Kristin will work on the next draft of this, based on comments received in the meeting. There is probably too much scope here. Could start with models for faults that are already the subject of laboratory testing projects.

January 2013: Kristin talked through the RTAR, which is available on the TC website. In a research project she was involved in, they tested the performance impacts of specific faults. They realized that the performance impacts of a fault would vary for different parts of the range of operation for the equipment. They did some probability analysis to look at the impact on an overall building or a group of buildings, of these faults occurring in a population of equipment. She described the tasks in the RTAR. Reinhart, Yuebin, and Dave will read through this RTAR and give Kristin some feedback.

Idea generated in Las Vegas. Has anyone done Energy Plus simulations to model energy impacts of specific faults the fault detection diagnostics identify? Jay is doing some work on this, but it's a small database. Could look at just the 20 most common faults. Kristin will put together something on this idea.

Current Research Activities

Title:  URP 1633: Data and Interfaces for Advanced Building Maintenance and Operations
Author:  TC 1.4
Documents:  RTAR

June 2015: Final report presented at this meeting. Kristin will consider the results of this project as she works on the "human factors" research concept.

January 2015: PMS has a final report and research paper to review at this meeting.

June 2014: Steve Taylor and Reinhard Seidl confirmed that this project is still almost done. There has been difficulty getting survey responses from building operators to provide feedback on the different interfaces, but the project may just have to wrap up with the small sample size they have.

June 13: Almost there. There was a no-cost extension, but it’s now in the last stretches. They’ve been doing good work. Identified the kinds of systems there are. Then provided alternatives, to show other ways the building operation data could be presented. Obtained feedback on the kinds of things the operators wanted to see. Last part will be mock-up dashboards that use the feedback from operators. Operators were able to run through a live version of the mock-up (not connected to a real building) so they can explore it and indicate which ones are preferred. The report will provide direction on how to make building operation systems more intuitive. Meeting is Monday 5 pm in Sheraton suite 1100.

Jan 2013: As of the last meeting, the team had done a great job of compiling screenshots of front ends from a host of different EMCSs. They had interviewed building operators as well as other decision-makers (eg financial), and gotten feedback on what's important to them in a front end for viewing various building and system performance metrics. They were planning to put together a mockup of a front end based on these findings, and show it to the interviewees to get feedback.

June 2012: The project is moving forward well. They have conducted a survey of interfaces from different BAS and EIS. They are developing standard displays to use in interviews of building operators to get their feedback. They have quite a number of interviews coming up.

June 11: Project kicks off after this meeting. Contractor is KGS Buildings. Project has co-sponsorship.

Jan 11: Kristin Heinemeier is serving on the PES/PMS for this and will keep us posted on progress. It has conditional approval. The PES has recommended that it be approved. TC 1.4 will approve it at their meeting here. We should know at this meeting if RAC approves it to go ahead. History is that the original solicitation didn't work out, but then they got an unsolicited proposal, with co-funding, that was responsive to the original RFP, so they are now going with that.

[We were previously referring to this RTAR under the numbers 1528 and then 1502.]

Title:  RTAR 1587: Improved Tools for Control Loop Performance Measurement and Evaluation
Author:  Steve Taylor, TC 1.4

Documents:  RTAR, RAC comments

June 2015: There will be no face-to-face PMS meeting at Atlanta due to an illness in the PI's family. Project is proceeding and will continue to meet by webinar.

January 2015: PMS has been meeting by teleconference. The project is on schedule.

June 2014: This work statement went out to bid, was awarded, and is now a project. University of Alabama is the contractor. Dave Shipley is on the Project Monitoring Subcommittee, which will have its first meeting in Seattle.

Non Prioritized Research Ideas

Title:  Standard Forms for Functional Testing
Author:  Bishara Mogannam

June 2014: Forms are still very clumsy. There is definitely potential to improve this process. There are too many different ones in use and none of them are very readable or easy to use. Reinhard does not feel ready to take this on, because they are still struggling with it internally. Reinhard will check if 1455 is now done and advise us tomorrow if there is a way forward on this idea. Update: Reinhard made contact with Mark Hydeman of GPC 36 and they are on track to produce standardized forms based on the outcome of project 1455. We should lay this research idea aside and revisit it only if and when a gap is identified after GPC 36 has completed this work. GPC36 will create these once the standardized sequences of operations are approved. The committee is going through public review comments at this time. See the ASHRAE GPC 36 website here: Intro page, see the "downloads" menu, and 3rd link from the top for control sequences. GPC 36 meets Monday morning of this ASHRAE conference.

June 2013: The standard sequences of operations are needed before functional tests can be written for them. It’s probably worth holding back on this one until a standard set of sequences of operations are completed. We should wait until ASHRAE project 1455 is published before starting research, but we could be working on the RTAR in the meantime. Reinhart will talk to Bishara about this.

January 2013: Dave has Bishara’s email in the committee roster and will email him to ask about any progress. There may be research in progress already to develop standardized functional tests, from TC 1.4, as a subset of research being done under 1455. Based on a survey of commissioning agents that Kristin was involved in at PECI, they generally did not want standardized forms but would prefer a set of objectives, methods, and guidance for each test.

June 2012: Bishara was not at meeting, no progress discussed. We suggested that Functional Tests might be developed to go with TC 1.4's set of ASHRAE Sequences of Operations. It might be specific to different building spaces (eg pharmacies)

ASHRAE could look at developing a standard set of commissioning forms for functional testing of different systems and components.There are a lot of resources out there providing examples of forms, but there are no standard ones yet. There are state mandated forms in California, but they are not very detailed, the contractors don't like them, and the inspectors don't have the knowledge or time to deal with them. Code enforcement's priority is life safety, and they often don't have time to go beyond that. If ASHRAE took a hand in this, it would become part of the standard of care for the industry, so even if inspectors didn't have time for it, there would be an expectation that professionals in this industry would use appropriate forms. Bishara would be willing to look at developing an RTAR for this. He should talk with Guideline 1.2 about this - they have talked at this meeting about what level of detail they should go to in specifying the steps in their guideline.

Title:  Optimized Versus Non-optimized Commissioned Buildings
Author:  Steve Wiggins

 January 2015: This idea should probably be captured as part of the effort to write an RTAR on costs and benefits. We won't keep it on as a separate research idea any more, but will instead combine it with the costs and benefits RTAR development.

June 2014: This one also doesn't really have a champion, since Steve has not been attending meetings. This is a low priority for now unless someone takes it on.

June 2012: Should discuss optimization, where you tune the building to actual usage. A research project on this topic could include a living building challenge.