Rick Stehmeyer

Recent Posts

ASHRAE Guideline 36: Benefits of Real World Implementation

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Aug 23, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Back in 2015 I wrote a blog post about ASHRAE Guideline 36 - High Performance Sequences of Operation for HVAC Systems.  I referenced a spec my team at Cx Associates wrote for a BAS controls upgrade.  Now in 2017, that spec, and the sequences contained therein, have been made into a fully functional BAS controlling 14 air handlers (AHUs), over 90 variable air volume boxes, and the central plant that serves them.  Our firm artfully adapted the sequences to meet the needs of the building owner and the function of the building (healthcare) without sacrificing the high degree of complexity which yields the energy savings building automation systems have been promising for decades.  After working on this project from specs to implementation, I can confidently say that Guideline 36 can deliver a reduction in energy consumption and improved comfort.  The cost (excluding the norms of engineering labor, BAS reprogramming, and commissioning) is primarily paid through raising all ships.  Let me explain.

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Topics: Standards and Metrics, Building Performance & Technology

The Advantages of Publicly Accessible Controls Documentation

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Jun 14, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Commissioning agents do a large amount of review of other people’s work and products.  The building commissioning (Cx) process is a quality-assurance process for verifying and documenting that the performance of facilities, systems, and assemblies meet defined objective criteria[1].  Therefore, to verify facilities and systems, I need access to a product’s technical documentation.  In the commercial building space, almost all documentation is online and readily available via a quick Google search.  Notice that I said almost.

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review

Lighting Control Systems and the Double-Edged Sword

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Apr 26, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Lighting control systems are making their way into new construction and are becoming as common place as HVAC controls.  Just like with many new building technologies, lighting control systems started small, and are now gaining more and more market penetration.  This is great news for those of us who work towards saving energy for building owners.  This new frontier of controls creates new challenges for those of us who work towards saving energy for building owners.  Why, you ask?

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review

Adaptability for Survival in a Changing Environment

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Mar 31, 2017 8:30:00 AM

I recently finished Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon.  I highly recommend this story which is a 1999 novel about 90s era computer hackers, World War II, and encryption.  It is both technically accurate, and gives a pretty good description for the 90s era hacker culture.  The book also gives the reader a good intro to encryption concepts.  However, why I am discussing it here is because one of the main characters, Bobby Shaftoe, brought to my attention the concept of people and their ability to adapt.  A person’s adaptability is important in my opinion - in life - but also in energy efficiency. 

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

Good Construction = Hard Commissioning

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Feb 15, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Sometimes, acting as a commissioning authority day in and day out can weigh on you when you hit a streak of projects with dozens of issues that need correction.

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review

RS-485– Part 3: Red Flags and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Nov 17, 2016 2:00:00 PM

Note: This is Part Three in a series of posts on RS-485. | Part 1 | Part 2

In part 1 and part 2 of this series on RS-485 we covered the basics.  Let’s take some of that knowledge and talk about what most often goes wrong with RS-485.  I want to give you the ability to red flag common mistakes and some knowledge that will help repair the most common issues.  I am going to take some of the knowledge we gained from the last two posts and put it into context for both existing RS-485 installations and new ones.   I’ll discuss this in the form of red flags that will trigger the discussion.

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Topics: Building Performance & Technology

What is RS-485? – Part 2

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Sep 21, 2016 10:01:00 AM

Note: This is Part Two in a series of posts on RS-485. | Part 1 | Part 3

In Part One One of this series of posts on RS-485, I gave a high level introduction to the structural and electrical components of RS-485 networks.  This week I’ll elaborate on those concepts and delve a little more deeply into some of the industry terminology and how it applies to those concepts.  As always, please feel free to drop a comment if you have any questions or want further discussion on any of this information.

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Topics: Building Performance & Technology

What Is RS-485? – Part 1

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Sep 9, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Note: This is Part One in a series of posts on RS-485. | Part 2 | Part 3

What is RS-485 and what does it have to do with buildings or building controls?  If you’re asking this question either you’re just curious, or maybe something isn’t working quite right and you’re Googling to find an answer.  Either way, I plan on giving you a high level understanding of RS-485 in this post, and how having a better grip on how it works can help building operators and controls contractors control their building more effectively. 

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Topics: Standards and Metrics, Building Performance & Technology

BACnet vs LON – A Network Data Comparison

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Jul 27, 2016 10:00:00 AM

If you’ve worked in the Building Automation Systems (BAS) industry, you’ve probably heard of LonWorks, BACnet, and Modbus.  These three open system networking technologies have been the foundation of most building automation systems over the last decade.  They allow devices from different manufacturers to communicate data without issue (most of the time) so that a building’s chiller, boiler, and pumps may all work together as one system to give a building owner an integrated system that enables a high level of functionality. 

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Topics: Standards and Metrics, Building Performance & Technology

Bill Gates’ Environmental Math and Getting to Zero CO2

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Jul 20, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I love simple concepts formulated using basic math.  And even though I love all mathematics, I’ll be the first to admit that my math skills could always be stronger, so I am always trying to learn. I guess that’s why the basic formulas for really complicated concepts really resonate with my inner nerd.  The Drake equation as a model for explaining the Fermi paradox is a wonderful example of these.  Recently Bill Gates released a short speculation on YouTube regarding energy and CO2.  This too really resonated with me as it’s an area where I see our industry really affecting change.

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

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