Frequently Asked Questions


What is CtrlSpecBuilder?

CtrlSpecBuilder is a free online productivity tool for preparing bid specifications for HVAC Control Systems. The specification format is based on ASHRAE Guideline 13 "Specifying Direct Digital Control Systems."  CtrlSpecBuilder does provide options that go beyond the basic text in the ASHRAE guideline.  For example, you can choose to require a BACnet system or you can choose not to require use of a specific protocol.  CtrlSpecBuilder can also generate Sequences of Operation, Point Lists, and Schematics to control typical HVAC equipment.  You can preview the spec online and download the text documents as Open Document Format (.odt) files and download the schematics as Drawing Exchange Format (.dxf) files.  These files can then be imported into many popular word processor and CADD programs.


Are the specifications CtrlSpecBuilder prepares proprietary?

No. In their most generic form, the specifications should allow all major Direct Digital Control (DDC) manufacturers to bid a job. The specifying engineer can select some options, such as requiring BACnet communications, which will narrow the list of potential bidders, but there are no hidden sole source provisions in the specification.


If the specs aren't proprietary, what's in it for Automated Logic?

We think that by making it easier for engineers to prepare tight, enforceable HVAC control specifications, we will get more business. We pride ourselves on providing complete, high-quality HVAC control systems with completely configured graphics, trends, alarms, and more. Well-written specs, such as those that follow the ASHRAE guidelines, require these details and provide a level playing field for all bidders.  Many of our competitors offer free proprietary specifications designed to limit competition.  If we did not provide CtrlSpecBuilder as an alternative, engineers would use those specs and we could not bid.  If we tried to slip proprietary requirements into CtrlSpecBuilder, we would violate the trust of our users and they would no longer use our specifications.


Who has access to my online files?

No one has access without your permission. If you are using the Try it button to create a specification, we don't save your specification after you leave CtrlSpecBuilder. If you've created an account with us and are keeping files online, we will not access your files and will apply all reasonable security measures to prevent others from doing so. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service for more details.

You may give other users access to your files by clicking on the "Advanced features" tab, selecting a file, and clicking the "Add User" button. Type in the user's CtrlSpecBuilder Login ID and select the "Edit" or "Read only" button to give them the required access. If a user already has access and you want to turn it off, select the "No access" button. Please note that only one person at a time can open a file for editing.


What are the system requirements?

CtrlSpecBuilder is a browser based application and is compatible with most modern browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.  We use cookies for user authentication and for saving configuration information, so your browser must be configured to accept cookies. We do not use cookies for marketing - see our Privacy Policy for details.  CtrlSpecBuilder will open a new window for some actions and some browsers interpret this as a "pop-up," so you may need to allow pop-ups from CtrlSpecBuilder.  CtrlSpecBuilder uses Secure Socket Layers (SSL) to protect your online session,.


What happened to the Word and AutoCAD files I used to get from CtrlSpecBuilder?

CtrlSpecBuilder used to download Microsoft® Word ".doc" and AutoCAD® ".dwg" files.  We had several problems with the third party applications we used to generate these files, and of course the file formats were proprietary to Microsoft and AutoDesk.  We therefore rewrote CtrlSpecBuilder to use industry standard Open Document Format (.odt) and Drawing Exchange Format (.dsf) files.  This eliminated the need for the troublesome third party applications and made CtrlSpecBuilder much faster and more robust.  The .odt specification file can be opened by Microsoft Word and by several other word processors, and the .dxf schematic drawings can be opened by AutoCAD as well as other CAD systems. 


When I open my specification in Word, why is the Table of Contents incorrect?

CtrlSpecBuilder estimates the page numbers when it creates the Table of Contents, but the actual page breaks and page numbering is managed by whatever word processor you open the document with after it is downloaded.  Word does not automatically rebuild the Table of Contents when you open the document, but you can tell it to rebuild the table by right clicking in the Table of Contents and selecting "Update Field."  This also turns the page numbers into hyperlinks, so ctrl-clicking on a page number in the Table of Contents will take you to that page.


How can I change the schematics, say to use 3-way vs 2-way valves.

The control schematics are only intended to illustrate control concepts and controller I/O points. The question of 2-way vs 3-way valves is very important to the mechanical design, but neither the points list nor the sequence of operations is affected by what type of valve is used. Similarly, the controls are not affected by whether the fan blows through the coils or draws through them, or whether the mixed air section uses parallel or opposed blade dampers. While we would like to make the schematics as accurate as possible, providing the drawing tools needed to edit the schematic would significantly increase the complexity of CtrlSpecBuilder without enhancing the understandability of the schematics.  Again, the schematics are only intended to make it easier to understand the control sequence.  The selection and installation of mechanical equipment should be determined by the design drawings, not the control schematic.


How do I know which control option to select?

On the screen where you select the control options for a specific piece of equipment, you can click the underlined name of the option to display the Sequence of Operation text for all available options. If you wish, you can edit the editable fields while reviewing these options and save the edits when you close the preview box.

Once you've selected the options, click the “Sequence of operation” tab to see the sequence of operation for the entire piece of equipment. Some sequences reference a control strategy, such as “optimal start” or “setpoint optimization.” These strategies are described in more detail in the glossary. The glossary is also attached to the specification as Appendix B.


How do I save my spec?

To save specifications, you must sign up for a CtrlSpecBuilder account.  This allows you to save your specifications online.  The "Try It" option gives you access to all the CtrlSpecBuilder tools and allows you to create and download a specification, but it will not be saved once you leave the web site.

If you have a CtrlSpecBuilder account, changes are immediately written to the database whenever you create a new specification, edit text, or select an option.  This means that even if your computer crashes or you lose your Internet connection in the middle of creating a specification, your changes are not lost and will be there the next time you open that specification.

(Note:  A few editing boxes and special features display a "save" button.  Changes made in these boxes are not saved until you click that button.)


Can I set up a multi-user account?

An account can't have multiple users, but you can allow multiple people to access a specification. Click on the "Advanced features" tab, select a file, and click the "Add User" button. Type in the user's CtrlSpecBuilder Login ID and select the "Edit" or "Read only" button to give them the required access. If a user already has access and you want to turn it off, select the "No access" button. Please note that only one person at a time can open a file for editing.


Is there any way to keep track of changes made to my specification?

You can activate a project history log at any time by opening a project and clicking the "Project History" link in the left hand column. CtrlSpecBuilder will then record every change made to the project, who made it, and when the change was made. To view this log, click the "Project History" link. (Typically you would leave this log turned off while you created the initial version of the project, and then activate it when you wanted to begin recording changes.  This can be especially useful if multiple users have editing rights to the project.)


Why is some text highlighted in yellow when I preview my specification?

The yellow highlighting in the on-line preview indicates text that has been affected by the options you selected on the "Spec Details" pages. If you move the cursor over the highlighted text and pause, a tool tip will tell you which page contains the question that inserted that text. If wish to change the highlighted text, click on the text and it will take you back to that page so you can make a different selection. This highlighting only affects the on-line preview. No text will be highlighted in the downloaded specification file.


How do I specify a system with multiple boilers or chillers in a central plant?

To specify a system with multiple boilers, you will need to specify a boiler manager and a typical boiler system.

1. Select a boiler manager, such as "3 Equal Sized - Parallel - Staged"

2. Select the "Single Boiler System". This will be typical for all three boilers. 
    a. Select "Commanded from Manager" Run Condition. 
    b. Select any other options you wish each boiler to have.

3. If you have a primary secondary system, select your "Hot Water Loop Pumps" as desired. Otherwise, just select the desired "Pump Control" for each boiler.

Follow the same process to specify a multiple chiller system, substituting "chillers" for "boilers."


Why doesn't my password work?

When we transferred account information from the old CtrlSpecBuilder to the new CtrlSpecBuilder we couldn't transfer passwords because they were encrypted.  Please click on the "Forgot your password?" link and create a new password.  (Or re-create your old one, if you prefer.)


Why is my downloaded sequence missing sections I saw on the preview?

When we launched the new CtrlSpecBuilder in Jan 2012, one user reported that the downloaded sequence did not match the sequence displayed on the web site. We investigated, and we discovered a formatting issue could cause portions of the text to be lost when it was translated into an .ODT file. The problem was fixed on 17 Feb 2012.  We have had no other reports of this problem, but to be on the safe side please check the sequences in any ODT specifications you downloaded prior to that date, or simply download a new copy of the sequence.