BTL Mark: Resolve interoperability issues & increase buyer confidence
by Michael Wilbourn
"How can we ensure that the capital expenditures we are making today will serve the museums interest into the new millennium. What technology exists that will carry us forward and not have us dependent on a sole source as we currently are".
Michael Wilbourn is Associate Vice President, Business Unit Manager Automatic Building Controls, Inc. and the Chicago Representative for Alerton Technologies Inc.
`The Field Museum is a cultural and historical archive serving not only to the City of Chicago and its people but the world at large. Originally established in 1893 as The Columbian Museum of Chicago, part of the Columbian Exposition, it was housed in The Palace of Fine Arts Building in Jackson Park. Through the bequest of Marshall Field, The Field Museum of Natural History was established at its present location.
Constructed between 1915 and 1920, The Museum is one of the few grand neoclassic buildings in the City of Chicago and houses the largest complete fossil of the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex, in the world. In 1973 the Museum had an extensive architectural renovation followed by an exterior renovation in 1986. At present, an upgrade of the mechanical infrastructure is ongoing under the direction of CATH Associates. An integral part of this infrastructure is the Building Automation and Control system. CATH reviewed numerous technologies and proposals and concluded that Alerton Technologies' native BACnet product line, BACtalk, would best serve the Field Museums current and future objectives.
It was early in the design stage that the Museum, the construction management, and the MEP team asked a very simple question. "How can we ensure that the capital expenditures we are making today will serve the museums interest into the new millennium. What technology exists that will carry us forward and not have us dependent on a sole source as we currently are". The recommendation of McGuire Engineers, the MEP consultant, and a bold one considering it was 1995, was to adopt the new ASHRAE Standard 135-1995, BACnet.
In early 1996, the Field Museum began work on Halls 6 & 7, the first of many projects on the board. The design intent was to create an exhibit area that was both versatile in capabilities and provided the environmental parameters demanded by curators whose artifacts they bring to the public. Both objectives were met with an innovative architectural design and a tightly integrated mechanical system utilizing Alertons BACtalk technology.
"The decision has worked for us", states Mr. John Mazza, Director, Facility Planning and Operation. "We have been able to create a campus wide backbone utilizing the BACnet architecture with Alertons native products. This architecture has been installed over time as new projects were constructed. Today, we have a 10 base 2 network spanning the entire lower level of the museum. We have strategically located hubs that allow integration of products from competing vendors with BACnet compliant devices. The beauty is that we own the network and can dictate its use. We learned from past experience that as an owner, you are buying proprietary networks and you sure can't dictate their use".
"We also anticipate that BACnet will allow us more options in the future" interjects Mr. Ed Bogenski of CATH Associates. "The BACnet protocol is nothing more that a set of rules on how data is defined and transmitted. With deregulation around the corner, we see BACnet as a real time method for procuring energy for the museum that will lower our cost. In addition, we are creating a specification that specifically identifies BACnet as our protocol for manufactured equipment. In the past, information was available at the equipment control panel but not on the automation system without redundant sensors or expensive gateways. BACnet removes these additional expenses and provides the museum with the manipulation of and the information from the manufactured equipment through a simple tie-in to the network".
"Sometimes you just make the right decision" smiles John.
Michael Wilbourn Associate Vice President,
Business Unit Manager Automatic Building Controls, Inc.
Chicago Representative for Alerton Technologies, Inc.