Rick Stehmeyer

Recent Posts

Measuring the Openness of the Building Automation System Industry

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Apr 18, 2018 2:25:00 PM

The floor was packed with a bustling crowd, filled with people from every branch of the Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry. They were making contacts, meeting friends, and checking out the latest and greatest technologies. There were young professionals eager to experience what the industry has to offer. They were seeing the current state of the art but also thinking about the future as they pass vendors strutting their stuff. Everywhere you looked, there were folks dressed smartly, representing their products with a smile and a handshake. Everyone was boasting about their latest tech, itching to perform the ritual tchotchke handoff in the hopes that someone will remember their product and give them a call after the dust settles. All of this was housed at a convention center so large it has its own bus port and ceilings so high they make your local Walmart superstore look like a tent at a county fair.

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Topics: Building Performance & Technology

Open the Mines! Let’s Start the Dig for Data and Improve Building Performance.

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Feb 14, 2018 10:23:00 AM

Despite the fog’s best efforts (diverting my schedule three hours by car outside of Chicago), I  made it to the 2018  ASHRAE Expo . For those who don’t know what the ASHRAE Expo is, you can think of it like a  Comic-Con, but for Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC). There is a huge exposition where products are shown off and the latest in energy efficiency technology is pandered off in a bazaar filled with old friends from across this global industry.

I attended six talks, a few open panel discussions, an ASHRAE GPC36 Committee meeting, and topped the days off by making new friends and “nerding out” over HVAC. I chose to attend panels and presentations that had to do with controls, integration, and grid management because that’s where I believe we can easily continue to chip away at excessive energy consumption due to poorly controlled building HVAC systems.

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Topics: Building Performance & Technology

Retaining Energy Savings, and Snowflakes

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Dec 29, 2017 4:40:00 PM

Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley was born in my home town of Jericho VT in 1865.  My town is situated in Vermont in a unique way that allows for a lot of annual snow (by Vermont standards).  Not only does Jericho get a lot of snow, but we also seem to be situated in such a way that we get perfect snowflakes that don’t clump together.  This is what allowed Mr. Bentley to become one of the first known photographers of snowflakes. He invented his own way of catching flakes using black velvet, so they wouldn’t melt or evaporate before he could get a picture of them. 

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

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

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