Published January 21, 2016
Volume 24, Number 1

Sunbelt Controls Speaks the Language of Building


John Gustamentes (left) and Vince Darrigo (right) work on panels in Sunbelt's Hacienda facility.

By Jay Hipps

Despite the amazing progress that building automation systems have made over the last 20 years, one obstacle that facility owners and managers face commonly face is that each manufacturer takes a different approach to making a building’s mechanical systems run at their peak efficiency. Pairing different systems during an office expansion can be a daunting task, but that is where Sunbelt Controls has the solution.
“There are a lot of different manufacturers of these building automation controls. We are an authorized dealer of Automated Logic and Distech Controls, but we have the capability of integrating our systems with products from Siemens, Johnson Controls, Honeywell, and many other systems as well,” says Sunbelt’s corporate marketing manager Damion Martin. “Sunbelt Controls is a master integrator of HVAC, electrical, lighting, IT, and security components, enabling facility managers to utilize one centralized user interface to control all aspects of a building's facility systems.”
The main benefit with building automation systems is energy savings — “as a building owner or manager, you can establish a temperature setpoint for the mechanical systems to respond to, which mitigates the risks of building occupants adjusting the thermostat up and down to levels that are not necessarily needed,” says Martin — but properly managed equipment also lasts longer.
“You can actually create an automation scheme for your equipment that allows it to operate more efficiently from an energy standpoint, but also efficient operation leads to a longer life for your mechanical systems,” Martin says. “Occupant comfort and energy savings are the primary reasons why building automation controls are ideal.”
The company has three different groups based in Hacienda: a project management group, which essentially operates as a sales force; an engineering group, which designs the systems that the company installs; and a service group, which visits clients to make sure everything is operating properly. The Pleasanton office operates all over the Bay Area, which means that the Hacienda staff played a key role in high-profile projects such as Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the 49ers; the Oracle Large Labs & Data Center in Santa Clara; Facebook’s East Campus renovation in Menlo Park; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; the Exploratorium; and many other San Francisco facilities.
Martin says that the service side of the equation is frequently overlooked. “A lot of people don’t think of building automation controls as something that you have to maintain. To a lot of people, it’s just a thermostat — how often does a thermostat break? But the reality of it is that you have to recalibrate these systems periodically to get mechanical systems and the control sequencing optimized for the current environment. Case in point, when you start to relocate people, people generate heat. Computers generate heat. All these little aspects affect the temperature and occupancy comfort, and each time you do that you might find that the specific zones in your building require different settings, or you might find that you have to retro-commission your mechanical systems so they operate in the optimum way for the needs of the building at that time.”
This level of detail is also addressed in the company’s training sessions, which take place at the Hacienda office. “We host training for facility managers, building engineers, owners, occupants, and other building automation professionals,” Martin says. “That’s notable because a lot of people have these systems but they don’t know how to use them to their full potential. There are a lot of different diagnostic capabilities to these systems, and a variety of users may need to know how to use a system in different ways. It might be a building manager, it might be a field tech. Our training generates attendees from all over the Bay Area and even people from outside the state.”
For additional information on Sunbelt Controls, access the company’s web site at http://www.sunbeltcontrols.com


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