September 2012

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Building for the Future

It is hard for us to imagine what a future building might look like and how its automation will be configured, it is easier for us as an industry to get on with the task of future building all our services and products.

Ken Sinclair,

Energy Manager
Energy Manager

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The Future Building theme for August builds on both the noun and verb meaning of building. It is hard for us to imagine what a future building might look like and how its automation will be configured, it is easier for us as an industry to get on with the task of future building all our services and products.

What do we need to get on with the task of Future Building? 

We need wisdom to change for the future
The Future Building Management System - Jim Sinopoli of Smart Buildings

As we transition to more complex, higher performing, and energy efficient buildings, it is apparent that traditional building management systems are not up to the task of monitoring and managing today’s building operations. What are the shortcomings of the legacy BMS? The list is quite long but the major items include limited integration capabilities, inadequate and elementary analytic tools, proprietary programming languages, a dearth of software applications and legacy user interfaces.

Part of the problem is that BMS manufacturers are not good at IT and the BMS is an IT system: it’s a server with a database, IP address and software applications, connected to an IT network.  What has developed at the industry level for building automation and IT is just a magnification of what is happening in many facility management and IT departments, that is, the readjustment of the roles of facility management and IT departments given the reality of the significant penetration of IT into building systems. Some organizations have worked out those organizational issues, but the BAS manufacturer and the IT industry is stuck in an “IT is from Mars, Building Controls are from Venus” mentality. The movement of BAS manufacturers into IT, as well as IT companies into building controls has been feeble at best.

We need to stop worrying
How I Learned To Stop Worrying - Nick Gayeski, Siān Kleindienst, Stephen Samouhos and John Anastasio of KGS Buildings

Building data has the potential to change everything as we know it in our industry, and change can be scary. Your view of the landscape for a data-driven buildings industry depends largely on where you sit; startups and sensor and controller manufacturers are delighted, while operators, technicians and IT administrators are classically apprehensive. A buildings industry with an abundance of sensors, actuators, devices, and smart things that tend to fail raises critical questions: Where will all that data go? How can we possibly deal with all of it? How will data impact my job and the services that I render? How will we manage buildings with all that measurable data, and smart equipment capabilities?

This isn't the first time we've faced such sweeping changes, in fact, today's market focus on data and the use of data in buildings is merely a resurgence of the fervor that started at the end of the lastc entury but ran cold because of challenges associated with cost-effective building data management. It's taken a few years for technical challenges like open communication protocols, data storage, and web-accessibility to catch up with the concept of a data-driven buildings industry, but it seems like our fears surrounding building data are being laid to rest for good.

Several technologies and industry culture shifts have been instrumental to helping people start to love building data, instead of fear it, and we will present those to you within the context of ClockworksTM, KGS Buildings’ Software as a service (SaaS) and ‘big data’ solution for buildings.

Analyse This!
Using Data Analytics to Improve Facility Performance - John Petze of SkyFoundry

Buildings owners are being presented with a wide range of options that promise to help them reduce energy and operating costs. The vast majority of these require significant capital investments. Many are what you would call “big projects” – lots of engineering, significant time required to deploy, and big financial commitments before any benefits will be realized.

Yet one of the most effective ways for facility managers to reduce costs doesn’t get delivered by a truck and doesn’t require a huge capital outlay to start generating savings.  The option I am referring to is using data analytics to identify operational issues that have the most immediate and significant financial benefits.

Analytics technology is fundamentally changing business and society bringing us to levels of efficiency not previously attainable. Analytics is being used by police departments to improve crime prevention and response, its being used in health care to improve diagnosis and treatment, and of course it is being used all over the web to improve sales results by more effectively identifying customer needs and buying behaviors. It’s only logical that we should be using this new technology to better operate our buildings. That’s the role of “operational analytics” and the great thing is that it’s easy to get started with analytics in our buildings.

Meanwhile at the intersection
[an error occurred while processing this directive]Standing at the Intersection of Automated Fault Detection & Diagnostics and Demand Management: Savings Ahead! - Kelsey Haas of Ezenics

Electric demand is becoming increasingly imperative to manage for commercial energy consumers.  In the demand response sector, utilities incentivize or provide rebates to those curtailing load during peak times on the grid.  The lesser known consequence of the increasing importance of demand is that in the last 5 years, electricity consumption charges have decreased, but demand charges have significantly risen in both cost and percentage of the monthly utility bill.  The increase in demand charges on the monthly utility bill is not always obvious to consumers as taxes and other line item charges that were once based on kWh are now based on the monthly peak kW instead.

Unaware of the potential impact demand can have on the monthly utility bill, energy and facility managers often put emphasis instead on managing consumption.    However, due to the dual importance of reducing demand on the grid during critical times and reducing peak demand to lessen the monthly utility bill, managing demand in a facility or portfolio can represent a significant opportunity to save energy costs!

Real-time is real
Real-Time Energy Management Still a Major Priority - Lisa West and Stephanie Daly of AtSite

The interest in rating the real-life energy performance of buildings has increased in recent years, and the real-life efficiency performance rating of buildings is important for any future that involves sustainable energy. Based on the results of various industry surveys, one area of building operations that continues to be a major priority for leaders of all sectors –commercial office, retail, education and healthcare -- is energy management.

However, each sector uses energy in different ways at different times. Let’s take a look at how each sector measures and manages energy using different methods and how various energy management solutions can be utilized.

Building operators update their account each month and can determine energy usage changes for the entire building.

The industry and yes us too need to change to be an active part of “Future Building” let’s get on with it.


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