Driverless Buildings™

IDS provides a variety of services that help at each stage of construction and operations to improve the operations of your building(s). Each part of our Driverless Buildings service is geared towards the singular goal to make your buildings operate properly, 24×365, for the life of the equipment (20+ years).

Operating properly means that the building provides a safe and comfortable environment for the occupants while maintaining the lowest possible costs for energy and maintenance. And, by running 24×365 we mean that the building shouldn’t require constant tweaking, manual overrides, etc. Its automation should be sophisticated enough that the building can drive itself, all hours of the day, all seasons of the year.

Design engineering

Critical to the design engineering phase of new construction are the sequences of operation (SOO). This is the first step down the path of how the building will operate for the next 20+ years, and if gets off on the wrong foot, it’s all downhill from here.

It’s important to specify the SOO in such a way to provide as much clarity as possible to the controls contractor and commissioning authorities. Ambiguity or missing details will almost certainly lead to an incomplete or undesired implementation. The owner gets a result that met spec, but didn’t deliver what was needed.

IDS will work with the design engineer to review engineering intent and assemble a SOO and associated controls specification that is detailed and follows ASHRAE guidelines for high performance buildings. After years of hands on operational experience we can show the importance of specifying superior automation. We make it very easy for the engineer to produce the bid package by precisely following their required format.

Automation code reviews

For owners, design engineers and commissioning authorities, automation has been a black box. It’s assumed the controls contractor delivered what was asked for without reviewing the software itself. The lack of review can be because the code wasn’t part of the submission, because of a lack of expertise to review code, or frankly, to avoid liability.

Owners need someone in their corner that is both a controls and software expert to evaluate the automation code.

Be it 5,000, 13,000 or more than 20,000 lines of code (or equivalent object modules), IDS has the expertise to examine it in detail. We check for conformance to mechanical design and consistency with ASHRAE guidelines. We also evaluate it for software programming best practices for code structure and maintainability.

Operational analysis & recommendations

IDS offers the most comprehensive, objective operational analysis in the industry. To assure objectivity, we base all analysis findings against ASHRAE guidelines, not someone’s opinion. To be comprehensive, extensive trend data is loaded into our technology platform, EnergyWitness, coupled with engineering and space data, and then reviewed by our expert BAS analyst.

Every piece of equipment is reviewed for proper operational performance. In addition, we evaluate the building holistically against its theory of operations. Combining these analysis approaches yields comprehensive picture of all the issues and savings available from the building.

All findings are backed up by data and our analytics make it easy to visualize it so you’ll know you are get an accurate operational picture.

Controls commissioning

Sampling is a common approach to commissioning, where a percentage of equipment is commissioned assuming this provides an overall picture of the work. It is used because of cost constraints.

As an owner, you can’t be sure that the sample represents the whole, and based upon our experience, sampling leaves plenty of maintenance issues for the operations staff to find and correct, possibly at the owner’s expense.

With IDS’ Controls Commissioning module, one can commission the 100% of the equipment in less time than the traditional sampling approach using data. Our functional tests are based upon ACG commissioning guidelines. The video shows a functional test that allows rapid review of all the equipment in a building with approximately 60 VAV boxes. In less than a half a day, six functional tests can be performed on all the units without leaving the office. And you only go to the field when it’s essential, fully equipped with the information required. Now you should expect 100% coverage.

Video of IDS commissioning process explained

Warranty commissioning

What is Warranty Commissioning? It’s the service that IDS provides during the warranty period of your new building to ensure your automation works correctly for ongoing operations. It includes traditional post-acceptance commissioning tasks, but goes beyond to perform a function that new construction commissioning never has time to address—the quality of the automation for 24×365 operations. Whenever we review a new under warranty building our clients are quite surprised how much we find.

Getting the automation right during the warranty period is extremely cost effective and can millions of dollars in ongoing energy and maintenance costs, driving down the lifetime total cost of operations for the building. We have found, despite best efforts during the design, controls and commissioning phases, that the BAS’s automation layer is seldom implemented for smooth ongoing operations. The owner gets stuck with an inadequate system for the next 20+ years.

The IDS service identifies whether the automation is meeting your expectations, reviews the code submitted, clearly documents and presents findings, and provides remediation requirements and plan to you. We can optionally combine our warranty commissioning with our remediation services and oversee and verify changes made to the automation implemented by the contractors.


Anyone can analyze a building and find a collection of problems—fixing those problems to achieve savings and other benefits is another thing altogether. IDS offers a cost-effective process to achieve persistent savings. While most buildings are engineered in line with industry standards and building codes, most buildings’ automation doesn’t operate in accordance with the guidelines. The construction process is not designed to produce highly efficient automation, leading to inefficient buildings, even those with various green certifications.

The remediation process starts with a prioritized list of functions to implement. Typically, there are both hardware maintenance repairs and automation improvements. As part of the remediation we may conduct a code review of the existing code, if not done at an earlier stage, which helps direct your control contractor.

We guarantee that our fee is completely offset by energy savings and/or the value of the additional work performed by the contractors.

Remediation plan document

Ongoing commissioning / support service

See what's behind this chart.

A hot/cold call story

Room 248 on the fourth floor was reportedly blasting heat during a meeting.

Background: There are four units that serve room 248. EXC.AC4.248 and FPT.AC4.248 share one thermostat and EXC.AC4.248.2 and FPT.AC4.248.2 share another. The set points between these two systems are not coordinated. As you can see, AC4248.2 is set at 70F, while AC4.248 is set at 72F in the occupied period. As a result, overall room temperature is maintained, but one system is blowing cold air and the other blowing hot. Additionally, you can see on Feb. 14 that both thermostats are subject to occupant override.

IDS recommends that the control of the room be managed by a single thermostat, not two. Space temperature is within 0.5F between the existing thermostats so there will be no difference in comfort setting. Overall comfort will greatly improve because you will eliminate simultaneous heating and cooling.

IDS offers three types of support services:

  • You can manage your own buildings with this DIY option. Use EnergyWitness’ various fault detection reports, delivered automatically each week to your mailbox, to determine maintenance priorities.
  • If you need varying amounts of support month to month then a time and materials approach is the way to go. This service category allows you to use hours required to solve any problem from trouble shooting hot/cold call, analysis support, remediation support, or to train your control techs to follow the ASHRAE practices. You pay for the time you use.
  • IDS’ Full Service support assigns an analyst to your building(s) for a fixed amount of time per month. The analyst will review all operational information from Fault Detection, Diagnostics, Metering, and Energy Tracking reports and provide a review of the findings with you.

Here’s an example of a hot/cold report via e-mail where the analyst provided an explanation with supporting data.