Energy Manager

Controls & Automation
Building transformation

Much is said these days of improving the energy use patterns of buildings, but patchwork improvements are not sufficient to create real and lasting change. In fact, change is not enough. We need to completely transform our buildings into smart grid interactions, with all functions within the building flowing and showing as active and visible assets of the corporate enterprise. The new true blue of an economical and environmental bottom line is supported with real, dynamic data, presented virtually, anywhere and at any time. This is the proof of our transformation.

October 26, 2009  By  Ken Sinclair

The transformation vision
Rick Huijbregts, Vice President, Vertical Industries for Cisco Canada wrote an article on Automated Buildings recently called The Real Value of Building Information, Integration and Transformation. That article speaks of how collaboration and communication has been re-defined.

“It’s about the ability to create and deliver new services and business models to those that own, operate and occupy our buildings — beyond the unimaginable,” says Huijbregts. “We now have the ability to design and use our buildings as if it were an iPhone. Highly esthetic, combining form and function to its highest standards, while providing a platform over which new and exciting services can be delivered. Smart and connected real estate provides ways to program and configure spaces differently in order to meet the ever changing requirements and demands of its users.”

To make this transformation a reality, however, requires a lot of small steps on the way, as Huijbregts is quick to point out. At this stage, he emphasizes the need to make sure buildings are properly designed to take advantage of the advances that are ready to deploy. Huijbregts notes that there are basic essentials building owners should look for.

“Look at the essential system’s controls and ensure they are the latest version offered by the manufacturer and insist on open protocols,” Huijbregts stresses. “This provides the most flexibility for future enhancements, expansion and interoperability.”


He also recommends using an IT backbone infrastructure to connect the system’s controllers to their management servers to provide greater reliability inside the building and, more importantly, increase security for systems that offer remote access and eliminate unnecessary overlap of conduit, cabling, switching and other components.

Huijbregts goes on to recommend that owners evaluate the growing number of systems that might not be considered essential “but can offer a compelling return on investment such as intelligent lighting, daylight harvesting, demand response, fault detection, integrated parking and others.” Such systems can offer significant financial and operational efficiencies. For more of Huijbregts insights, click here

Existing building challenges
Marc Petock, Vice President Global Marketing & Communications of Tridium, Inc. an early adopter and implementer of these concepts, reminds us “The biggest challenge currently facing existing buildings in reducing energy usage is the lack of manageability for efficiency and critical information about operating systems.”

As Petock notes, traditional building systems are characterized by proprietary systems with limited connectivity and interoperability between the systems. This means conventional buildings can’t properly communicate and intelligently manage the data that they possess and use this information to drive energy efficiencies and reduce energy costs.

“The vast majority of energy management activities are based on the financial impact they will have on the company,” continues Petock. “Today’s rapidly evolving energy markets are forcing organizations to consider new ways to centrally manage the energy portfolio of the company. These two real-world conditions are causing building owners and energy managers to look for solutions to integrate and coexist with the rest of the enterprise building information network. Energy managers are looking for an Internet friendly, integration framework that bridges the gap between the business layer and the operational layer of the enterprise.”

Implementing change
Some organizations are already effectively monitoring their energy use. For instance, Roy Kok, VP of Sales and Marketing at Kepware Technologies, explains how an OPC Server is able to communicate with a variety of automation protocols to help create Arizona State University’s energy monitoring system in his article ASU Gets Greener through Visibility.

ASU takes it one large step further – they show it off to the world at Be sure to work with this demo to see how visibility can add credibility to energy management program while demonstrating it to the world.

David Wolins, CEO, Scientific Conservation, Inc. (SCI) sees this visibility being taken even further. “All automation systems deployed in the future will require data streams containing all available performance characteristics of a piece of equipment be made available to the customer in a highly useable format,” he suggests.

As he notes, “moving building management from reacting to changes in building operations to proactively identifying potential sources of system failure and addressing these anomalies before they impact operations, is now reality. The use of diagnostics as a proactive analytical tool is now fully vetted, operational and reshaping the way facility managers perform operational duties.”

For more of Wollins’ thoughts, click here.

These four authors share their visions of how they see building transformation taking place over the next few years, using several data flow vehicles to navigate the internet and present a valuable bottom blue line transformation. Now, what is your vision of building transformation?

Ken Sinclair is the Editor/Owner of

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