Controls & Automation
The reinvention of building automation
Building Automation is evolving to be a web service that presents and connects our traditional industry to the new evolving enterprise energy, economical, and environmental equation. The daily mindless migration of people to places is over. Only connected collaborative services, products, and people will survive by connecting to the web of the future.
April 17, 2009 By Ken Sinclair
As our industry reinvents itself and we become totally connected to the enterprise and smart grid we need an injection of new ideas from web based thinking to quickly propel us forward. The complexity of our BA industry can appear greatly simplified with web services, SaaS, and browser presentations. The complexities of our industry reside with us, but the reinvention and representation of our future resides with the new teams we build.
Reinvention of our Building Automation “BA” Industry is necessary not because we want to, but because we have to. The present financial times are rapidly redefining what is sustainable and what is not and Building Automation in its present form is not. BA is not achieving anywhere close to its potential. Typical heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are 50% efficient compared to fully integrated systems. Source: U.S. Green Building Council, Cisco Systems, The Hartman Co.
The functional creep of what is now included in the new BA definition of intelligent building solutions provides another real need for BA reinvention. Intelligent building solutions integrate all the common building functions; environmental control, intrusion detection, access control, lighting and energy management with video.
The rapid metamorphosis to web-enabled automation has greatly enhanced our already powerful direct digital controls while allowing our buildings to become an interactive part of the Smart Electrical Grid. Internet capabilities allow HVAC equipment connected to open BA standards to be viewed as a controllable load for Smart Grid and Demand Response thinking.
Our new found automation connectivity allows more to be achieved with less human and natural resources. In our present economical situation we must use less while providing better services and still communicate our successes with digital signs in the lobby and with building centric web sites, both now part of BA.
BA as a remote commissioning tool
One trend is to use the BA as a remote commissioning tool. This allows online web services to be connected to continually optimize and commission energy use throughout an enterprise, while maintaining acceptable comfort levels. Commissioning is essential to verify that any changes made to control systems are likely to work as intended with ongoing performance monitoring. The benefits of building commissioning will become greater as the smart grid evolves. Savvy building owners are saving money now while positioning their facilities to take advantage of future smart grid opportunities.
Net zero building designs depend heavily on BA’s and Grid’s connected interaction to orchestrate renewable energy sources such as solar and wind with or without the electrical grid interaction.
Day Lighting (substituting outside ambient light to replace internal electric light) requires a significant BA interaction with clients and ambient light sensors as well as motorized fenestration control.
Lighting controls really offer significant potential to deliver the key aspects of intelligent and sustainable buildings.
- Energy Efficiency: Use of lighting controls may typically yield up to 30% energy savings for lighting, and that translates into approximately 10% overall energy savings for a building. In addition, lighting controls may serve as a key element of a demand reduction program, further enabling energy savings.
- Human Comfort and Productivity resulting in greater human comfort and increased productivity.
Low cost camera technology allows remote viewing of critical equipment. Many advances have been made in the development and deployment of video-based monitoring. To optimize the true value of video systems they need to integrate directly with existing systems such as HVAC, energy management, lighting and security to create a new level of real-time visibility.
Our buildings must be green, but present a financial blue bottom line of sustainable connected real estate. Our existing stock of large buildings in North America, which use more energy than they should, presents a huge opportunity for Building Automation Sustainability.
Tuesday June 9, 2009 I am presenting a track with 3 sessions called “Reinventing Building Automation” as part of ConnectivityWeek 2009 Santa Clara Convention Center.
Building Automation is evolving to be a web service that presents and connects our traditional industry to the new evolving enterprise energy, economical, and environmental equation. We must achieve more with less human and natural resources while providing better services. Our present economical situation demands this.
Evolving the Reach of our Reinvention
BIM, evolving ASHRAE energy standards and their adoption, the green building movement, LEED etc are all rapidly forcing the reinvention of Building Automation. Solutions that provide wireless connections to devices of our past now get coupled with open source enterprise thinking and IT network standards. Lighting and its control are an integrated part of this reinvention. Day Lighting (substituting outside ambient light to replace internal electric light) requires a significant BA interaction with clients and ambient light sensors as well as motorized fenestration control. Open standards are making this possible.
Business Opportunities within BA Reinvention
Reinvention allows us to view everything from a new perspective. These new perspectives create incredible opportunities for innovation in our evolving new business model. This session will explore the new businesses of reinvention.
The Future of our Reinvention
Our buildings must be green, but present a financial blue bottom line of sustainable connected real estate. Trend is to use the BA as a remote commissioning tool. This allows online web services to be connected to continually optimize and commission. Low cost camera technology allows remote viewing of critical equipment. The power of enterprise languages such as XML coupled with a movement to Open Source software solutions is fueling our reinvention.
Ken Sinclair is the Editor/Owner, AutomatedBuildings.com.
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