Becoming a BAS Artist

Resets—HVAC systems will typically use less energy when they are adjusted to meet the building load. The load can vary depending on environmental factors such as the weather. Many older systems work on what is called the proportional reset schedule; more efficient systems are based on direct resets of building loads.

Lockouts—Lockouts simply make sure equipment only turns on when necessary. Chillers and pumps will not come on during certain dates when outside air falls below certain temperatures. Again, this is more intelligent scheduling and programming you may already be doing in security systems.

Direct digital controls—DDCs are used by all modern BAS. Sensors and controllers are set up to control valves, dampers and other systems; and you already do 100-plus zone alarm and fire systems with integrated lock and light controls.

Organizations Are Ready to Assist

Let’s say that you are an avid outdoorsman. You like to hunt, and now would like to fish. Sure, you could spend many frustrating days learning on your own, or you could get some tips from an experienced fisherman. Better yet, you could join a club and even take lessons. The same is true for working in new technology arenas.

Let’s take a look at some organizations to help you along.

CABA – Continental Automated Building Association pretty much says it all in its name. It is a knowledge base for leaders who advance the development and delivery of the use of technology and integrated systems in the global home and building industry. For a good taste of what CABA offers, visit its Standards and Protocols section. There’s enough there to keep you reading for a month.

ASHRAE—If you are looking for a crash course in HVAC controls then look no further than the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. This is the source to learn it all.

Pair of Key Technologies to Watch

To wrap our BAS discussion up this month, let’s take a peek at a couple of very important technologies at the forefront of building automation.

BACNET—There are two types of communication platforms for building automation control (BAC) systems: proprietary and open. (Again, we can relate to this from security and even reminisce as we are seeing the proprietary battle play out again with IP communications, which is another story.) Building Automation and Controls Network (BACNET) is the most popular open communications platform that evolved from ASHRAE. It is a European standard that is finding its way stateside. Simply put, it allows many systems and system types to speak a common language. Learn more at

Z-Wave—This is a proprietary wireless mesh network technology that recently I noticed is really taking off, mainly in the home automation market. The technology is supported by more than 200 manufacturers, including some biggies like GE. Check out


Tech Talk Tool Tip

Let’s take a gander at some slick home automation technology. Energy monitors are a hot market and I have found another new free tool for working with these products. It is brought to you by Google and is called the Google PowerMeter.

This free, online utility program allows customers to access and intelligently monitor their electrical usage. It is now available through certain utilities and partnering manufacturers. Check it out at Keep an eye on this app.


Bob Dolph has served in various technical management and advisory positions in the security industry for 30+ years. To share tips and installation questions, E-mail Bob at


About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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