June 2005

BTL Mark: Resolve interoperability issues & increase buyer confidence
BACnet Testing Laboratories

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Elevating our Industry
The time has come to work together to promote and educate
end users and owners on the benefits of Intelligent Buildings. 

  Paul Ehrlich, President
Building Intelligence Group

Contributing Editor

Within the building automation industry, there is a smoldering frustration with the slow acceptance and demand for many of the solutions we have created.  How come there isnít more demand for open systems?  Why arenít more projects specified with complete systems integration?  Why arenít there more new BACnet and LonTalk installations than those that are proprietary? 

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Perhaps it is the fault of the consulting engineer who didnít put it in their specification?  Or the architect or general contractor who didnít include it in the project scope and budget?

The simple truth is that ultimately what goes into any project is up to the owner.  They are the ones who gain the benefits from a project, establish the budgets, and choose the design and construction team.  Why arenít owners clamoring for these solutions?  There are a number of reasons.  First we have not done a good job in educating and explaining the financial and operational benefits of these solutions.  Secondly we have earned a reputation for somewhat erratic delivery of these solutions and also for severe infighting amongst ourselves about what solutions are superior.  The end result has been that while we have created some great technical solutions, they are not, by and large being demanded by the market. 

So how do we change this?  The answer is that we need to reposition, educate and perform. 

Reposition:  Today, we tend to market solutions like the engineers we are.  We talk about the technologies, the devices, the products and the systems.  We do not spend enough time understanding the owners business needs and satisfying them.  We need to change from talking about protocols and systems to talking about how to make buildings operate better.  This is the concept of the ďIntelligent BuildingĒ.  An Intelligent Building is one that provides a safer, more productive, lower operating cost solution for owners resulting in a significant return on investment.  Owners have made significant investments in information technology (IT).  These investments where made not because of the technology but because of the resulting productivity improvements and returns.  We need to position Intelligent Buildings based on their resulting returns.   

Educate:  Today, there is little incentive for change.  On new projects the scope and budget is established already, so by the time we get involved, it is too late to change.  On existing buildings, there is little incentive to make dramatic updates or changes.  In order to move past this status quo, we need education.  This needs to start with the owner.  Emphasizing the benefits of making a new or existing project an Intelligent Building.  Helping them to understand the financial returns and justify the investment.    This education needs to extend to consultants, contractors and suppliers.

Perform:  As demand grows, we need to be ready to deliver.  This means increasing capabilities and performance across the industry.  We will be challenged to become more knowledgeable on customerís business needs, systems and IT technologies.  We will need to gain expertise across systems, and not just in temperature control. Work needs to continue on development of standards that allow for increased productivity in integration. There will be a need for consultants who can design a fully integrated solution and for contractors who can reliably deliver. 

Where do we start?

Changes in an industry as established as ours do not happen over night.  But, on the other hand, they will only happen if we start the process.  Work is already well under way by individual suppliers and organization to promote their solutions.  The time has come to work together to promote and educate end users and owners on the benefits of Intelligent Buildings.  Building Intelligence Group (www.building-intelligence-group.com) is dedicated to the development of this market.  Our mission is to work with the industry to promote and execute on Intelligent Buildings.  We offer services to help suppliers, systems integrators, and owners.  These services range from creation of business strategy to technical consulting and facility planning.  Our primary goals is to develop the market for Intelligent Buildings.  The end result of this is that there will be more business for our industry and owners will benefit from improved buildings. 

This fall we will be starting a series of educational seminars called the ďBuilding Intelligence TourĒ that is focused on educating owners and consultants on this topic. This one-day, local seminar will provide detailed information as to why an Intelligent Building is valuable, what is needed to implement and how to create a plan to transition a new or existing building to gain these benefits.  These seminars are going to be held in partnership with selected local and national sponsors.  Examples of sponsors include:  system suppliers, systems integrators, institutions, and associations.  More details on this program can be found at http://www.buildingintelligencegroup.com/event.php/id/21/.  Please contact us if you are interested in sponsoring or attending one of these events.  We are excited about the opportunities ahead and are looking forward to working together with all of you to make this occur.


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