August 2006

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Paul EhrlichEMAIL INTERVIEW  Paul Ehrlich & Ken Sinclair

Paul Ehrlich, President, Building Intelligence Group

Paul Ehrlich has established Building Intelligence Group an independent consultancy, whose primary purpose is to help system suppliers as well as building owners and managers, manoeuvre their operations through the vast changes prompted by enterprise building management. The main focus is in the areas of facility and IT integration, convergence and intelligent buildings with additional plans of exploring options related to next-generation real estate and technology development.


Intelligent Buildings

We have seen strong progress toward delivery of Intelligent Buildings. The technologies have become more economical, the integrators more sophisticated, but most importantly owners are starting to demand it.

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Sinclair:  Paul, how are things going?

Ehrlich:  Actually quite well! When we started Building Intelligence Group two years ago we had a mission to help develop the market. This involved working with various conferences and seminars to “get the message out”. Today we are still involved in developing the market, but we are much more actively involved in helping out suppliers and owners implement solutions.

Sinclair:  Help me understand what is going on in each of these areas.

Ehrlich:  Well we work with suppliers helping them to understand what progressive customers are looking for, how to position their products and solutions and approach the market. We are also actively working with owners, helping them to evaluate their business needs, evaluate Intelligent Building options, and select and deliver the best products and solutions. The third area is market development – we are involved in educating owners, integrators, consultants and suppliers about the benefits of Intelligent Buildings. We do this through our own seminars called the “Building Intelligence Tour” (see and through alliances with leading organizations including RealComm, CABA, Automated Buildings and BNP the publisher of Engineered Systems and Energy and Power magazines.

Sinclair:  What has changed over the last two years?

Ehrlich:  Lots! We have seen strong progress toward delivery of Intelligent Buildings. The technologies have become more economical, the integrators more sophisticated, but most importantly owners are starting to demand it.

Sinclair:  Why are owners demanding this now?

Ehrlich:  A few different reasons. One is that energy costs are starting to rise dramatically. Fuel costs are up over 50% and in some areas we are seeing electric rates of over $1.00 / KWH on peak summer days. The second reason is that owners are looking to better manage their facilities. They see our solutions not just being about automation but about information. Using information better allows for improved responsiveness, lowered expenses and improved occupant experiences. Many owners had always wanted better tools and systems and just needed to know what is really possible.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Sinclair:  So how do you educate owners?

Ehrlich:  We do education through a number of venues. One is through articles on Automated Buildings and in magazines like Engineered Systems. The second is through focused conferences and seminars. We do 10 – 15 seminars a year as well as heavy involvement in program development and presentation at conferences such as “Building Automation” and “RealComm”.

Sinclair:  Are you still involved with oBIX? How is that going?

Ehrlich:  Yes I am back as the co-chair along with Toby Considine of University of North Carolina. The big news on oBIX is that we have released the first version for public review. After years of work it looks like we could have approval of both oBIX and BACnet WS this year. Even more encouraging is that manufacturers are already starting to incorporate the draft standards in products.

Sinclair:  So what is next?

Ehrlich:  We are just starting work on the formation of a new consortium that will be focused on redefining energy use for commercial buildings. The goal is to use technology to reduce energy use by 60 – 70% while still maintaining comfort and productivity! Stay tuned for more details.

Sinclair:  I am often asked where to learn more about Intelligent Buildings – any suggestions?

Ehrlich:  Absolutely. Here are some links I would recommend (other then ):

Our website has numerous articles and links.  Try the “news” area for some great resources.  Also has links to our seminars.

Probably the best source for commercial real estate and technology.  They are doing conferences and seminars and also have a good monthly newsletter.

The Building Automation conference series is a great event for consultants and institutional owners.  This is put on by the Engineered Systems and Energy and Power magazine and is a strong event.

CABA is doing some great work including development of tools for building valuation and creation of an industry roadmap for intelligent buildings.  Lots of great articles and links.


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