Open Building Control

Publication Type


Date Published



Best practice control sequences are often not implemented correctly, or are not implemented at all, in large commercial buildings. This typically leads to 10-30 percent energy waste, along with reduced occupant productivity and unnecessary equipment wear. The current process of designing and implementing such control sequences is a manual process that starts with designers who often don’t have adequate training, then requires controls programmers to interpret and program a verbose written sequence. This process has been shown to fail to deliver high performance control sequences at scale. The Open Building Control project digitizes the current control delivery process. The project is developing tools for system designers to select control sequences, assess their energy performance and load flexibility potential using whole building simulation, specify the sequence for implementation using machine-to-machine translation by a control provider and formally testing the as-installed sequences by a commissioning agent. The project developed tools for each stage of this delivery process. The key innovation of the project is the development of the Control Description Language, a language that allows such a digitized control delivery process with end-to-end verification. Libraries of control sequences have been implemented using the Control Description Language, and their performance has been demonstrated using whole building energy simulation. An automated translation of such sequences to a commercial control product line has been conducted using a prototype translator. Tools for formal verification of as-installed control sequences relative to their specification have been developed and demonstrated. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) started the process of forming a committee to make this language an ASHRAE/ANSI Standard. This new standard will complement existing and emerging ASHRAE standards for building communication and semantic modeling by providing a standard for expressing the control logic - the actual brain of the building. We expect this language and the process it enables to be an important contribution to the deployment of high performance building control sequences at scale because it allows taming the complexity of the control delivery process, which is continually increasing due to the need for higher performance and increased load flexibility to meet goals for net zero energy and increased renewable integration.

Year of Publication



California Energy Commision