Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
Defining a Smart Building: Part Three
Three key elements: networks and security, fire alarm and occupant satisfaction.
If it was easy to define a smart building in one sentence then every building owner would have a smart building. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. Buildings are multifaceted and have a variety of uses. You only need to look at the number of people on a design team and the specifications required for new construction to begin to understand the complexity of many buildings. For example, the Construction Specifications Institute’s MasterFormat for building specifications has 35 active specification divisions and another 15 divisions reserved for future expansion, which cover everything from conveying equipment to moisture protection and wastewater equipment.
series is about moving from the abstraction of a smart building to
a few important details or attributes of a smart building. Today we
address three key elements: networks and security, fire alarm and
enable their occupants to work, play, meet, shop, sleep, eat,
socialize, educate, learn and a host of other things. So one of the
performance criteria of a building should be how well it succeeds in
satisfying its occupants. This involves their comfort, both physically
and psychologically. The physical part is straightforward involving
thermal comfort, appropriate lighting for the occupants’ activity, the
occupant’s control of the lighting and air distribution, the workspace
layouts and the technology systems available to the occupants to make
their tasks easier. The physiological effect may relate to the
building’s image, appearance and aesthetics and how it impacts an
occupant’s perception of their environment.
There are several aspects of building performance that tenants or occupants account for in determining their satisfaction with a building. Yes, most tenants want a “green” building where energy consumption and sustainability is a priority; in fact, many large corporations that lease space have corporate mandates to only lease space in “green” buildings. But building performance and tenant satisfaction needs to be defined much broader than energy, in a more holistic approach.
For a smart building, we would expect the building owner to provide at a minimum the following amenities to satisfy the needs of occupants and tenants:
Fire alarm systems have multiple functions, but their primary job is to warn building occupants of a fire so that they can safely evacuate the premises. The fire alarm system is one main component of a larger fire protection “system”. True fire protection encompasses mechanical systems, electrical systems, structural attributes and architectural aspects such as means of egress. These may include:
Fire alarms are very effective and save lives. However, fire alarm systems that do not operate properly can have the opposite effect; a system that produces false alarms can affect an occupant response or lack of response and decrease the effectiveness of the system.
Early detection of fires is critical; it provides greater safety for occupants and first responders and reduces property loss since the fire is discovered when it is still small. Alarms may be communicated to a staffed monitoring station as well as the local fire department.
While detection and alarms identify and notify an event, it’s the suppression systems that react to containing and controlling the fire. The new codes that were created for high-rise buildings after a study of the 911 Twin Towers evacuation require a Fire Command Center to monitor in real time temperature and smoke in elevator lobbies and the elevator machine room, as well as hall calls, location of the car in the hoist way, and travel direction. NEMA SB 20 lays out the “Fire Service Annunciator and Interface” which covers the design, operation and arrangement of equipment intended to display data and status of building systems in order to provide certain control functions including that of the elevator. Finally, no longer can the integration of the fire alarm system and the elevator be accomplished using “dry contacts”. It now has to utilize a communication protocol, regardless if it’s an open industry standard or a proprietary communications protocol.
A prerequisite of a smart building is an automatic fire suppression system with a centralized fire alarm panel. Other attributes of a fire alarm system in a smart building may include:
Network and Security
There is an increasingly large role for information
technology in our
lives and buildings, including building control systems and facility
management. All major communications protocols used in building systems
(BACnet, Modbus, Lonworks, etc.) now have a version for Internet
Protocol (IP) or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) that basically
allow the BAS protocol to ride on an IT network. Another example is the
building management system; basically an IT device with a server, IT
operating system, IP address, and IT database. There’s other evidence
of the IT infiltration such as international standards for cabling
related to building automation systems that are identical to that of
IT, BAS controllers using Wi-Fi, and the current focus on data
analytics for building system data. The IT infiltration has and will
cause some disruptions and adjustments between IT and Facility
Management organizational roles.
The building automation industry is now at a point where we have legitimate and reasonable concerns regarding the security of building control systems, especially in smart buildings where advanced technology is deployed. We see stories in the news regarding malicious cyber-attacks on private companies, government networks and internet sites and there are questions as to what such an attack would mean for building control systems, building operations, occupants and owners. The apprehension is amplified in newer buildings because there has been increased penetration of IT infrastructure in building control systems and greater integration and interconnection of building controls with other systems. The potential security vulnerability of a building can extend to the smart grid as we move to implement two-way communication between buildings and the grid, and of course it could also impact corporate business systems. The overarching security concern is more about network security and less about physical security, although the two are certainly related.
For a smart building, it is a prerequisite to implement a secured converged network. In addition, the building should have:
next installment of “Defining a Smart Building” will address
electrical, metering, and video surveillance systems.
For more information about smart buildings, technology design or to schedule a Continuing Education program for your office write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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