August 2011

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Embracing Change

In today’s commercial building market most, dare I say almost all, facilities are still reminiscent of the early days of building automation.

Bob Wallace

Bob Wallace,

Building Clouds, LLC


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Some say “change is hard.”

With today’s mass acceptance of the internet, smart phones, smart tablets, WiFi and anytime anywhere connectivity to access it, it appears that the change from pen, paper and day-planners has pretty much been completed.

That wasn’t so hard was it?

The days of looking up something in a 5,000 page wholesaler catalog has been replaced by a web search. Using online banking versus going to the bank and online bill pay is a readily accepted and demanded amenity.

Look at the trust and expectations we have placed on these changes.

Our banks, utilities, cable boxes, social profiles, home phone systems, email, contact management, web sites, office productivity software, yard sprinklers, solar systems, home and business security systems are all available through online “cloud” providers.

We willingly share our personal data, social profiles, calendars, and diaries online daily, and in some cases constantly around the clock.

We realize costs savings through convenience of access and pricing structures of these amenities. free, pay-as-you-go, and monthly service fees are various revenue methods we have grown accustom to seeing and expect to pay for because they make our lives easier.

So change is not so hard, or is it?

In today’s commercial building market most, dare I say almost all, facilities are still reminiscent of the early days of building automation. Trapped in their own pen and paper world. Not easily, nor cost effectively capable of taking advantage of the features and convenience that today’s Internet connectivity allows.

But are they really trapped?

Technology is available today to cost effectively connect those facilities to “on the go, anytime, anywhere Internet access” with a portfolio of add on, cost saving building optimization features. Many of these solutions simply monitor, analyze, and present building data, yet others allow users and automated sequences to deliver optimized control back to the building systems.

These building automation solutions are the next wave in the adoption of being connected.

What types of facilities could benefit from Internet connected services? Below is partial list of facility types that would see increased convenience and productivity, increased energy efficiency, and immediate financial benefits from being connected.

Commercial • Hospitality • Light Commercial • Technology • Industrial • Educational • “Box” Stores •
Chain Stores • REIT’s • Campus Sites • Municipalities • Vacation Homes • Rental Properties

Here are just two real-life examples of the financial benefits realized by utilizing Building Cloud’s OpendiemConnected™ service.

Example 1:
Traditional onsite “Non-Connected” Automation System.

1.    Facility Manager gets a call from a key tenant about being too warm in a space on a weekend.
2.    Facility Manager calls Building Engineer who dispatches the controls or mechanical contractor to site.

$125/HR OT Rate x 4 hours minimum call out = $500.00
If the Building Engineer also dispatches they may have been “on call” for the week.  ADD =  $200.00
TOTAL  =  $700.00    

Traditional onsite with OpendiemConnected™ Automation System.

1.    Facility Manager gets a call from a key tenant about being too warm in a space on a weekend.
2.    Facility Manager logs onto their site and reviews situation.

3.    Facility Manager calls tenant to follow up.

TYPICAL MONTHLY COST for a OpendiemConnected™ site of this existing capability =  $400.00
Saving by avoiding example 1 costs from above. =  <$700.00>


Take this example and apply it to two weeknights and maybe one more weekend a month and you have over $1,200.00 a month in savings and happy tenants, just by being connected.

Example 2:
Banquet and meeting room HVAC legacy control system for nation wide hotel property fails. They cannot schedule HVAC for rooms and are forced to push the override button on each digital thermostat every hour during meetings.

1.    General Manager looks for repair of early 90’s system.
2.    Costs of repair and lack of parts availably make repair a non-option.
3.    Budgets for onsite non-connected replacement of total system range from $25K to $30K.
4.    General Manager is introduced to Building Clouds WiFi Controls Ecosystem.

TYPICAL MONTHLY COST for a OpendiemConnected™ site of this capability =  $200.00
Saving by avoiding traditional onsite replacement cost explained in 3.4 above. = <$8500.00>

BENEFITS: OpendiemConnected™ site access, offsite access, smart phone access, access by banquet, engineering and management staff.  The system is up and running in days for the cost of a few programmable thermostats rather than weeks at a huge capital expense.

So what kind of facilities should look to adopt these connectivity services?  What does it take to get connected? What are some of the benefits and what kind of monthly fees should these connectivity services costs?

The first answer is that all types’ facilities with building automation systems should ask, not if they are a candidate, but what it takes to become a candidate for these connectivity solutions.

Even buildings with late 1980’s automation technology are potential candidates for receiving financial benefits from services such as OpendiemConnected™

Additional examples of good connectivity candidates are those looking for:

• Additional anywhere anytime access                               • Smart Solar System Integration
• Helpdesk support                                                                • Automation migration plans
• Upgrade path options                                                         • Sub-metering
• Control optimization                                                            • Global Alarm Management
• Dashboard reporting                                                           • Access Control and Physical Security
• Integration of multiple disparate control systems             • Lighting Integration
• Internal demand control                                                       • Advanced Data Analytics
• Automated demand response integration                         • Branch building control
• Weather based irrigation control                                        • Digital signage Integration
• Integration of conference room management systems    • Banquet room HVAC management
• Integrated tenant Override and Billing

What it typically takes to get buildings connected can be broken down into several technology categories. All these options are implemented using reliable TCP/IP connectivity through the sites’ internet connection, a dedicated business DSL connection, or a cellular connection to the internet.

Technology                      Typical Onsite Device                 Building Clouds Connectivity   
1- Echelon®                     i.LON® 100 servers                    i.LON® Driver Service
2- LON® Embedded      i.LON® 600 servers,
                                          Adept Systems®                         LNS® Driver Service (Client - Server)
3- LOYTEC®                   LINX®-100,101,200,201            Universal OPC XML DA Service
4- BACnet IP                   LINX®-200, 201                           Universal OPC XML DA Service
                                         3rd Party BACnet BMS or IP       BACnet WEB Service w/Tunneling       
5- Legacy BMS               IP to Serial Converter                  Legacy Driver WEB Services
                                                                                                (Contact sales for connection options)
6- Industrial                      IP Connection                               MODBUS TCP/IP Service
                                                                                                 MODBUS RTU Service
                                                                                                 OPC WEB Service w/Tunneling
                                                                                                 to existing onsite OPC servers

The benefits of utilizing OpendiemConnected services are wide ranging. The OpendiemConnected service is not intended to replace your existing automation software solution. Yet it parallels the system and enables open system selection while extending typical localized user control and management to the Internet and devices we use daily to manage our business operations. Some of the benefits are listed below:

• Anywhere anytime access                                 • Extending system software life
• Helpdesk support                                                • Allows for budgeted migrations
• Provides options for upgrade paths                  • Minimize “End of life” risk
• Portfolio Wide Energy Management                 • Advanced historical data reporting
• Provides a common user interface                    • Constant Commissioning
• 3rd Party M & V services                                    • Cost recovery services
• Advanced alarms management                         • Automated email and SMS Alerts

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Since pricing is always a driving force when choosing a solution for your projects Building Clouds has developed five OpendiemConnected standard packages that can be customized to fit the needs of potential OpendeimConnected clients.

These programs range from a FREE – 30 day trial*, to Light, Standard, Corporate, Enterprise and Global packages. Prices range from free for the limited trial, up to a $999.00** per month fee for the Global package.

The days of a building automation system being installed and forgotten in a dusty maintenance office or closet for fifteen years are gone.  Core intelligence will continue to exist locally in facilities, yet more and more the “bells and whistles“ will be cost effectively provided through cloud connected services.

Best of all, the acceptance of these building automation services will be “pushed” by the people who are the current users of common, everyday Internet services offered today!

The traditional providers of detached building automation technology, comfortable in their offerings, may be relegated to providing only the core commodity with the long term reoccurring services going to the cloud connection providers.

So as the change comes it might get a bit chaotic, those that embrace the chaos will benefit financially from it while enjoying the day-to-day conveniences that come with it.

* Applies only to certain OpendiemConnected options. Contact sales for additional details.
** Prices are for base configurations and subject to final options selected.

About the Author

Bob Wallace is the president of Building Clouds, LLC.  He has over 31 years of experience in the sales, design, deployment, management and service of most building automation and control systems having worked in several controls and mechanical organizations since starting in the industry in 1980.

With the formation of Building Clouds in October 2010 and the successful acquisition of the IPR and IT of the software known as Altitude and after immense code rework and testing Building Clouds released to the market the Opendiem™ Suite for the integration of disparate systems into a common WEB experience.

With the announcement of the managed OpendiemConnected programs and Elite Level Pricing Programs Building Clouds is “Changing the Way Building Systems Connect”

You can get more information at or by contacting You can contact Bob at


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