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The Smart Buildings Academy Podcast | Teaching You Building Automation, Systems Integration, and Information Technology

The weekly podcast where Phil Zito discusses topics related to building automation and provides useful tips and action packed examples to help you better understand building automation.
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The Smart Buildings Academy Podcast | Teaching You Building Automation, Systems Integration, and Information Technology
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Now displaying: 2017
Dec 25, 2017

Would you like to know the exact steps to take your building automation career to the next level?

In this episode, I lay out 7 tips that you can immediately apply to your building automation career. These are the 7 tips that I have personally used during my career to go from being a service technician to leading the technical integration program for Johnson Controls in less than 7 years.

Dec 18, 2017

One of the most important parts of having a successful building automation career is having a career plan. 

As the old saying goes, if you don't know where you're going any road will get you there. And often that's how we approach our building automation careers. 

This has become an even bigger problem with all of the new technology that is entering the industry. We need to have a plan in order to avoid being overwhelmed and learning things that will not advance our careers.

In this episode I take you through the exact nine-step process I used and continue to use to have a massively successful career in building automation.

Dec 4, 2017

When you read the words energy efficiency what do you think of? 

If you're like most people you may think of long drawn out energy projects, trying to work with utilities to get rebates, and then having to do complex math and formulas to justify it all. 

But what if I told you that there were several easy changes that you could make that would instantly increase the energy efficiency of your buildings? 

Would that be something that would be valuable to you?

If you then make sure you listen to Episode 94 of the Building Automation Monthly Podcast

Nov 27, 2017

Preventative maintenance is the core of good facility management. 

Most facility professionals and service technicians can easily name off half a dozen HVAC maintenance tasks. But when you ask them to name off tasks related to BAS...

Well, I hope you like the sound of crickets because in most cases that's all you'll hear.

But contrary to popular belief there are dozens of preventative maintenance (PM) tasks for a BAS. In this episode we continue to explore the topic of preventative maintenance for Building Automation Systems (BAS). If you've been looking to take the performance of your BAS to the next level or if you simply want to add a couple more years to your BAS life then this episode is for you!

Nov 20, 2017

Preventative Maintenance. What comes to mind when you think of those two words?

Do you think about filter change outs and fan belt replacements? 

There is so much more to maintaining a BAS then the traditional HVAC maintenance activities. 

If you've been looking to take your BAS's performance to the next level then this episode is definitely for you. By the end of this episode, you'll have a series of maintenance activities that will result in massive time and energy savings for you. 

Nov 13, 2017

There's been a phrase floating around for the past couple years now but I've been hearing it pop up a lot more frequently lately. That phrase is OT vs IT.

This phrase is actually very common in the industrial/SCADA space but if you're in the BAS world it may leave you scratching your head.

  • What exactly is OT?
  • What does it have to do with IT?
  • And how does it affect you?

If you've been plagued by these questions then this episode is definitely for you. By the end of this episode, you'll know exactly what OT is, what it has to do with you, and how you can implement OT if you so choose. Let's dive in!

Nov 7, 2017

One of the biggest struggles that any person faces is what career path to go down. This is even more true in building automation. You see, building automation doesn’t naturally lend itself to a “path”. I’ve met technicians who are easily making “6 figures” and I’ve met senior integrators who are scraping by with “50k a year”.

But beyond the money, there is the enjoyment factor as well. How many of you truly love your job? Have you ever stopped to think about what really motivates you?

In this episode I take you through the exact same three-step process I used to discover what I was truly passionate about. This process has helped me to see immense growth in my career and I’ve used it to help other’s grow as well.

Oct 30, 2017

Depending on what studies you read, 40% to 60% of the Building Automation Systems installed are more than 20 years old. On the surface, this wouldn’t be much of an issue but the real problem is that many of the BAS systems can no longer be replaced and the professionals who understand how to service them are leaving in droves.

How do you deal with this problem?

How can you defuse the ticking timebomb that is your aged BAS when you have no money and limited resources?

In this episode, I provide you my four-step process for solving this problem. You are going to learn:

  • How to quickly snapshot your buildings, so that you can know which buildings are studs and which buildings are duds
  • The one thing that is often missed when evaluating systems (be careful because missing this will cause major problems)
  • Why you must prioritize your system and why you're probably doing it wrong
  • A secret method that will
Oct 23, 2017
At the end of the day, you are judged by the outputs from your designs. In this episode, I walk you through the 7 design outputs you should focus on when producing BAS designs. Producing a quality design is the biggest factor in whether your BAS project will be a cost overrun failure or a case study worthy project.

In this episode you are going to learn:

  • The 7 design outputs you must produce
  • The simple trick that will reduce your design time and increase your installer accuracy
  • Why legends are overrated and what you should be doing instead
  • How to effectively manage your bill of materials to reduce slippage and increase profitability
  • And much more!
Sep 25, 2017
I've been the victim of some really bad designs and if I'm honest with you, I've also created a few really bad designs... The thing is, no one really teaches this topic. 
 
Sure there are a ton of "webinars" out there that teach you "BAS" but mostly they are just feature fests, where some vendor goes through all the features that exist in their product. When I was first learning design back in 2007 my mentor had me draw out the design on graph paper from start to finish. 
 
At the time I thought this guy was an a$$, but in reality, he was teaching me several invaluable lessons. The first lesson was that the design should be independent and interdependent at the same time. 
 
Each document you create as part of a design should be able to stand on its own. And I learned this as I had to justify every document I created. However, every document must build upon one another and support one another to create a complete design.
 
This is a skill that I quite simply don't see being taught anywhere.  And that is what we are going to discuss in this episode.
 
In this episode you are going to learn:
  • The purpose of a BAS design
  • The four-phase design lifecycle
  • The importance of mini-design lifecycles
  • The secret behind making sure you are always on-time with your design
  • Strategies to reduce your submittal rejection rate
  • And much more!
Sep 18, 2017

Have you ever stopped and thought about what is required to create a good BAS design... and then once that design is created, what deliverables should you expect to receive? 

If this topic seems a little muddy to you, you're not alone. Despite all of the talk out there about IoT and analytics, when it comes to the topic of BAS Design (something that affects way more projects than any IoT solution ever will) the Internet is eerily silent...

The reason is, there are not that many folks who can teach you how to create a good design. I mean think about it. Besides for ASHRAES Guideline 13-2015, which you can purchase for $99. There's not much out there. But even that guideline doesn't address the core issue. 

How does one design a BAS. Over the next several episodes I am going to be tackling this exact issue. In this episode, we are going to unpack the inputs and outputs that are created as part of the design process. You are going to learn:

  • The 3 design inputs you must understand
  • What the one piece of information you absolutely must locate in the specification is
  • Why you're controller drawings actually confuse your installer
  • How to eliminate project slippage (hint... it has something to do with your bill of materials)
  • And much more!
Sep 11, 2017

You've got an IP controls network and you're in a world of hurt because it's not working. You search Google looking for ideas, tech support puts you on hold for hours trying to help the thousands of other folks just like you.

You're feeling hopeless. 

But it's not hopeless. In this episode, I provide you 7 tips that you can apply immediately to help you troubleshoot your IP controls network. Success is just around the corner, have a listen... 

Aug 28, 2017

In my last podcast episode, I explained what IP BAS controls are. 

In this episode, I'm going to be diving even deeper down the rabbit hole and exploring how to design IP control systems. This episode is perfect for technical and non-technical folks. By the time you finish listening to this episode you will have a solid understanding of exactly what you need to know about designing your own IP BAS controls system.

In this episode you will learn:

  • The big difference between IP and non-IP designs
  • The different physical architectures of IP controls
  • A step-by-step plan for designing wireless and wired IP control systems
  • The key criteria you need to consider when designing wireless systems
  • The exact questions you should ask before you ever design an IP control system
Aug 21, 2017

IP controls are one of the hottest trends in the building automation world right now.

Yet for many folks in the BAS profession, IP controls are a mystery. Despite the prolific marketing by some of the largest BAS brands there still is a ton of confusion as to what IP controls are and what they can do!

That's why I created what may be my best podcast episode yet. In this episode, and over the next couple episodes, I am going to dive deep into the topic of IP controls. In this episode

In this episode you will learn:

  • What are IP enabled controls?
  • How are they different than normal BAS controls?
  • What are the use cases for IP Controls?
  • Do IP controls cost more?
  • What are the pros of IP controls?
  • What are the cons of IP controls?
  • How do IP controls affect the design process?
Aug 14, 2017

You can master networking... 

But you need to start now! In this episode, I give you 7 tips that have been immensely helpful to me over my career in BAS.

That's it... No fluff just tons of valuable insight around networking. You won't want to miss this one!

You will learn:

  • Why you must understand the first four layers of the OSI Model
  • How Ethernet and IP are not the same
  • The difference between Frames and Packets
  • Understand Physical vs Virtual Lans
  • Why Broadcast domains are vitally important
  • How Subnets and Default Gateways work
  • The importance of Trunking and QoS
Aug 7, 2017

What is a building automation server? 

What does it do? 

Should I cloud host my server? Should I use a desktop or server class platform?

If you've ever wondered these questions then this episode is for you!

In this episode, I unpack the topic of BAS servers. I dive deep into the topic of BAS servers. 

You will learn:

  • What a server is and how it works?
  • Why you shouldn't use your server as a client
  • When you should cloud host your server (and when you shouldn't)
  • Why your choice of server architecture can make or break your BAS installation
  • And much, much more!
Aug 4, 2017

In last weeks podcast episode, I talked through how you can enter the building automation field. But what if you are already in the field?

More specifically, what if you are trying to build your own building automation group?

If you've ever wondered how to build a building automation team or how to run an existing building automation team then this is the episode for you!

In this episode I discuss:

  • The two main types of BAS work
  • How to organize a project focused BAS team
  • Whether or not to have an in house BAS group or an external BAS group
  • What the future holds for BAS teams and what skills you should hire right now
  • How cloud and IoT tie into your BAS business
  • Why you should shift your business to a residual income model
Jul 24, 2017

Do you want to have a career in building automation systems? Does it seem like every job interview ends in a salary that is too low or you being told you don't have enough experience?

If this sounds familiar then this is the episode for you!

In this episode I discuss:

  • The three skills that make up a BAS professional
  • The four paths for entering the BAS field
  • Why most folks believe they can't move into the BAS profession (and why they are wrong)
  • How you can get a job working with BAS, WITHOUT a pay cut
  • The future of BAS and how it will change who we hire
  • The three ways you can "future proof" your BAS career or business

 

Jul 17, 2017

I recently went through a 3-day power outage. It was utterly debilitating. Our well pump wouldn't run leaving us without water and we ended up loosing all our food. The good thing is we were prepared with backup food and water. Yet, many of our neighbors weren't and it was amazing how fast all of the surrounding stores sold out of basic goods.

So why do I tell you this?

The reality is so many BAS professionals are sitting on time bombs. There are facilities across the world that have put zero thought into how to keep their BAS operational after a disaster. The good news is that if you follow what I teach you in this episode you will be massively more prepared for when, not if, disaster strikes!

In this episode you will learn:

  • The three kinds of disasters
  • My four-step plan for disaster planning
  • How to find the Goldilox zone (not over prepared but not under prepared)
  • Why you must test your disaster plan
Jul 10, 2017

Man, I am so stoked for this episode. I've got to say out of all the episodes I've recorded I think this is the most value packed episode of them all!

As you may or may not know, at the time of this recording I'm into my second IT for BAS class and the questions I've received have been phenomenal!

What I wanted to do in this episode was to share with you some of the questions I've received from my students and share with you the answers I provided. I think you will find this episode eye opening as I really dive into some great topics.

In this episode you will learn:

  • How IP controls and IT are coming together
  • How to properly segment your IP controls
  • What VPN's, DMZ's, and proxy servers are, and how that affects your ability to remotely connect to your BAS
  • Why understanding databases is critical to your career
  • Why API's aren't all they are hyped up to be
  • What the deal is with all these goofy IT cyber security terms
  • And sooo MUCH MORE.
Jul 3, 2017

I've gotten a lot of questions from my subscribers about BAS networks lately. I actually find this interesting as there is a definite uptick. 

I get it, networks can be ultra confusing and most folks are having to deal more and more with IT. IT naturally is asking very detailed questions about how these protocols work. 

And that is why I recorded this episode. 

In this episode you will learn:

  • The four layers of BAS networks
  • How encapsulation and decapsulation work and why you should care
  • The difference between BACnet MS/TP, Ethernet, and IP
  • The life of a BACnet Message
Jun 30, 2017

Naming standards.

As you know I'm a bit of a standard fanatic.

The reality is most of the BAS problems I have experienced have come from when people went off into left field and created designs that just don't make sense.

And there is no other better example of this than in the area of naming. Zone temp, space temp, room temp. They all mean the same thing...

Or do they???

In this episode unpack what makes naming standards good and what makes them not so good..

By the time you finish this episode you will know:

  • The three keys to good naming standards
  • How to create a naming standard
  • How to push through the overwhelm of applying a naming standard to an existing building
Jun 28, 2017

Most BAS training at the end of the project is terrible. 

I know you've been there. You bring in 2 dozen donuts and a jug of coffee and hope and pray that you can keep the customer's attention for more than 2 hours before they wander off (either physically or mentally). What if you could create awesome training that helped your customers learn your BAS?

What if this training was so awesome that your customers told everyone they knew about how awesome your company is?

Well, that is what I'm going to teach you in this episode!

By the time you finish this episode you will know:

  • Why most BAS training sucks and how to make sure your's doesn't
  • The amazing secret to knowing exactly what your customers want and need to know
  • My 4-step process to creating amazing training that your customers will rave about!
Jun 26, 2017

Alarms, they can make or break your BAS. Yet so many building owners seem to just accept that having a crappy alarm design is just par for the course.

Why is this? 

Is it possible to have a structured alarm design that prioritizes the issues that need your attention the most? 

I believe it is and by the time you finish this episode you will know:

  • Why most BAS alarming designs are terrible and how to avoid your's becoming terrible as well!
  • My step-by-step process for creating amazing alarm designs (hint, this takes less than one hour!)
  • How you can implement an alarm design, even if you have already built your building!
Jun 23, 2017

When I say redlines and as builts what do you think of? 

Do you think of how much redlines and as builts can impact the success of your project?

Do you think about how much redlines and as builts can impact the effectiveness of any future service calls? 

Do you think of how redlines and as builts can massively increase or decrease the time you spend on a project?

You should!

By the time you finish this episode you will know:

  • Why you MUST make sure you are dealing with the latest drawings on any project
  • The #1 method for making sure your redlines get turned into accurate as builts
  • How proper as builts will determine the success or failure of your service career
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