January 2012

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Connecting Communities for Continuous Conservation

Visualization through graphics can allow buildings to become an integral part of a community and “Come to Life” while teaching occupants about sustainability.

Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com

Energy Management Canada

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This column speaks about the many new communities that building automation is now part of.  My last column focused on how building automation is turning green with the evolution of Greenmation. In this column, I provide links and pull-quotes from several new articles that include great examples on how visualization through graphics can allow buildings to become an integral part of a community and “Come to Life” while teaching occupants about sustainability.

We also explore connections to several other communities such as access control, video surveillance, elevators, mobile technology and Web-based facility management.

David provides insight into connecting communities for continuous conservation in this article:

Buildings can “Come to Life” and Teach Occupants about Sustainability
David Schurk, DES., LEED AP. vertical market sales, Automated Logic Corp.

The goal was to utilize ALC’s technology to transform building data into usable information that could be introduced into the learning environment, carrying with it the message of energy conservation and sustainability.

Bailey’s concern was not so much the technical issues of this challenge but rather how he could accomplish the mission in a form compatible with the school’s curriculum. This led to meetings that included the architect and engineer while reaching out to the school principal, teachers, curriculum developers and the district energy manager. Bailey recalls, “Everyone was asked for their input. Starting with what it would look like, where and when it would be used and how we could present everything in a way that would be both fun and educational at the same time”. The basic premise was to help students correlate energy savings into something that would be readily understood. “If we told them they had used 10,000 kWh of electricity they wouldn’t understand the impact that had on the environment, but if we told them they used enough energy to power 100-houses, 10,000-TV sets or 100,000-light bulbs they would more likely understand what that meant. The same holds true with water, comparing consumption to things like bathtubs and swimming pools helps them understand and relate this back to something in their everyday life”.

What developed from this process was dubbed “EcoScreen”, taking hard form as a stylish kiosk display located in the school’s front lobby and available to anyone walking through the front doors. Aesthetically impressive, fully interactional and easy to use, it appears “engaging” so as to draw students in for a closer look. “We were determined to build EcoScreen so it would appear as familiar and friendly as possible, something students would find immediately recognizable”. What better than a giant flat screen with an interactive touch screen display and high-definition graphics.

The Importance of Building Automation Systems Visualization
Korey Warzala, marketing associate, DGLogik Inc., comes with this wisdom:

Building system data is an asset for any company. Every building is unique and energy consumption within all buildings varies and fluctuates, which should be managed in a unique manner. To be as lean as possible and maximize efficiency, this requires an intelligent Building Automation System (BAS) and a customizable graphic user interface (GUI) for unique dashboard creation to accurately visualize this information. Effective BAS visualization enables faster energy analysis, monitoring, and the ability to “tell the story” of the building performance to management, engineering, building operators and executives alike to make better decisions on ways to troubleshoot potential problems and cut costs.

We have yet another article that examines the human perception of graphical dashboards and the requirement of standards to communicate a consistent message.

Today we have the technology to extract any data from a building. However it is just an enabler to improve building performance. We need a standard to define the key performance indicators that should be reported and how they should be displayed in a building. Then we must go beyond technology to human psychology and behaviour to design the most intuitive dashboards that can influence human behaviour. Without the involvement of every day users of the buildings, no matter how good the technology we have, the battle for sustainability is always be uphill. Do not waste the data, standardise a reporting format and report it to the right audience at the right time.

We have elevating communities to connect to:

We tend to diminish or take for granted the influence elevators have had on the building industry over the last 150 years. Try imagining the skylines of New York, Hong Kong, London or Dubai without the use of elevators and instead having just 3 or 4 story buildings everywhere. You can’t fathom it because without elevators they wouldn’t be the same cities. Elevators today are a staple of any multi-story building, taking on important roles beyond people moving and becoming an integral part of life safety and yes, even energy management.

The lesson here is to not to overlook the role of elevators in life safety and energy management and instead to exploit their functions and characteristics to improve building performance.

Another view talks of the connection to technology communities already in our building; Access control and Cameras.

Is Access control the key to change in how we operate our buildings? Can a camera change the way we manage our properties?  I feel the winds of change and see the emerging technology that will guide us into the next generation of smart buildings. Today we can monitor the activity within our building by using simple presence detectors. We can schedule or adjust our lighting by way of photocell or light harvesting technology. (Light harvesting technology monitors the natural light in an area and controls the intensity of artificial light to maintain a predetermined lighting level while conserving energy). Heating and cooling is accomplished with a network of temperature sensors, thermostats and presence detectors to create a comfortable building. Both access control and video surveillance have completely embraced IP Technology.  With this embrace manufacturers are able to share information across platforms.  The fluidity of this information is how the modern building will move to the future.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] It is not just our industry connecting to other communities it is also other communities connecting to our building industries see these examples;

Bing Maps venue maps now feature nine largest US malls, 148 total–CLICK HERE TO VIEW.

Last December we introduced detailed shopping mall maps. Since then, we’ve been adding more mall maps every week. In fact as of this post we’ve finished more than 148 malls in more than 20 states -- including the nine largest enclosed malls by square feet in the US.

And this just in: New Version of Google Maps Brings Indoor Floor Plans to Your Phone New Version of Google Maps Brings Indoor Floor Plans to Your Phone.

These evolving concepts are huge and will for sure connect to our dynamic building data because they can. This forces us to make ready, understand evolving IT standards and decide if we will allow connection to energy data, environmental impact data, occupancy, comfort performance data, etc.

As you can clearly see we are in the early stages of Connecting Communities for Continuous Conservation and it will be an exciting ride.

December is also our show issue for AHR Expo 2012 Chicago which provides connection to the practitioners that are in the business of community connection ASHRAE, HVAC, BACnet, LonMark and the many other communities who will be there.


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