Building automation and controls have become an essential, yet confusing part of many projects performed by Progressive. With proprietary systems and highly touted interoperable systems which are so predominately advertised throughout the industry, building owners and managers are constantly faced with tough decisions.

HVAC, security and lighting are few of the systems which have become commonplace in the building automation arena.

Facility owners and managers are too often saddled with multiple systems utilizing multiple front end computers and software to control and operate each system or, in many cases, different buildings. This presents numerous problems and inefficiencies, not to mention the additional training and proficiency issues associated with each of the systems. In many cases, owners do not want to make the substantial investment of upgrading existing building automation systems. Additions to the facility typically contain new control systems which often do not communicate with the existing systems. Progressive specializes in establishing the intercommunication our clients desire but have not been able to achieve.
Simplified Solutions
Progressive provides highly technical yet simplified solutions to our clients’ building automation requirements. Our goal is to provide our clients with a common computer interface which can utilize the information from multiple automation vendors to provide both monitoring and control capabilities.

Our staff employs personnel who understand the complex problems of intercommunication between building automation systems. Progressive has dedicated substantial resources to test and evaluate building automation systems. Our in-house test bench is used to test and substantiate interoperability between systems from multiple vendors. Our test bench utilizes a common computer interface to provide control of LON, BACnet, lighting, and security devices.
Interoperable Controls Retrofit of One Liberty Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Anyone who's seen a Bruce Willis movie has seen One Liberty Place prominently featured in Philadelphia's skyline. At 61 stories it boasts a unique spire that not only makes it Philadelphia's tallest high-rise, but also the cities most recognizable.
The Problem
Constructed in the mid 80's, One Liberty was one of the first buildings to employ a head-to-toe (or spire-to-basement) DDC control system. This was a bold move that building owners, operators, and tenants have never regretted. However the leading edge 80's technology was short lived and as time and technology progressed, the building operators became hard pressed to keep the extensive system in service. Unable to obtain replacement components, it was obvious that the "rob Peter to pay Paul" couldn't go on forever.

Complete replacement was the only option. However, matching the operation and performance of the existing system was not the only concern. 15 years of tenant fit-out renovations demonstrated to building managers the disadvantages of being held captive by a proprietary DDC system. When Progressive Engineering & Design of Glenside, PA, was hired to design the replacement system part of their mission was to identify and pre-qualify vendors that use an "open protocol", such as BACnet, to accomplish interoperability.

A Progressive Approach to Testing
Progressive Engineering & Design took its responsibility seriously and went about the task of identifying such potential vendors. However, they soon learned that it's one thing to say you are BACnet and another to be BACnet so as to allow competition through real interoperability. Progressive decided to conduct an interoperability test with three vendors that advertised BACnet communication.

Each participant installed their software on a separate computer and mounted controllers and gateways on a test-bench. Each vendor's controller was connected to a VAV box and the three systems were interconnected through an Ethernet network. Test criteria required that each system had to 1) recognize each other's system, 2) read system variables (VAV box CFM) 3), read setpoints, 4) adjust setpoints, and 5) control the air valve and reheat coil.

The results of the test were invaluable. One of the vendors was eliminated from consideration when they failed the first communication hurdle, recognition. Some had the system up and running while the other vendors struggled with every aspect of the test.

Control panel

The project was competitively bid after which the consulting engineer and owner agreed that BACnet offered the best system and represented the best value.

The building owner is confident that BACnet offers extremely flexible and robust product that will meet current and future building needs. The system installed consists of a fiber-optic Ethernet, hosting 30 plus global controllers communicating with 1450 VAV controllers. There are also more than 70 air handling systems interfacing with the smoke control and fire alarm systems, not to mention the building's exterior ice and snow melting system.

The chilled water plant at One Liberty consists of 3 cooling towers, 10 pumps and 3 Trane Chillers that will communicate with the BACnet system via a Trane BCU gateway. Modbus protocol will be used to control the cooling tower fan VFD's, condenser water pump VFD's, and free cooling cycle.

One Liberty Place is just one example of Progressive Engineering & Design's experience with high-rise building controls. Progressive has a proven track record of sophisticated control projects in museums, laboratories, schools, and institutions.