August 2011

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Creating Interactions in Building Automation

We must "Create Interactions" worthy of our visibility and strive to better understand how to interact with the powerful presentations of our information.

Ken Sinclair,

Energy Management Canada

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Wiki defines Interaction design very well -- "embedding information technology into the ambient social complexities of the physical world."

Interactivity, however, is not limited to technological systems. It can also apply to other types of non-electronic products and services, and even organizations. Also, people have been interacting with each other as long as humans have been a species. Therefore, interaction design can be applied to the development of all solutions (or offerings), such as services and events. Those who design these offerings have, typically, performed interaction design inherently without naming it as such.

Got all that?

"Embedding information technology into the ambient social complexities of the physical world."

That is where we are in our evolution. Our Building Automation Industry has risen from the total obscurity of a boiler room and being installed by the sub trade of a sub trade to becoming a very visible industry.

Now we must "Create Interactions" worthy of our visibility and strive to better understand how to interact with the powerful presentations of our information.

Measure and Visualize Energy Consumption

In this article; Economic and Workplace Efficiency  from Intelligent Building Energy Management Systems - Peter M. Tarca, General Manager, Intelligent Buildings Business Unit, PeopleCube

Peter provides this insight;

Energy management solutions offer the most efficient way for businesses to conform to the new sustainability standards. Implementing a system that shows when and where electricity and other energy sources are being excessively consumed enables them to set up systems to control when and how energy is being used. Not only does this help companies comply with federal and local government mandates, it rewards them with greater operational efficiency and significant cost-savings.

The first step in any energy management initiative is determining how much energy is being consumed. According to Gartner analysts Stephen Stokes and Simon Mingay, “Some of the lowest of the low-hanging, energy-efficient fruit can be found in the energy footprint of buildings. It has been estimated that they are the single-largest consumer of electricity globally, and about 40 percent of this energy consumption can be removed by implementing existing and mature efficient technologies as well as operating and information technologies.” [Simon Mingay, Bettina Tratz-Ryan, and Stephen Stokes, “Hype Cycle for Sustainability and Greet IT, 2010” Gartner, Inc. July 29, 2010.]

Knowing when, where, and for how long energy is being consumed throughout an organization is key to getting a handle on usage. Using intuitive energy management dashboards, companies can capture, process, and visualize their energy consumption to uncover ways to significantly reduce energy costs.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Helping Building Occupants in More Ways Than One

From this article Plugging into Automation
Plug-loads typically comprises one quarter to one third of a commercial building’s electricity consumption.

Annette Bellafiore, LEED AP, Communications & Marketing Manager, ThinkEco, Inc. states that;

The advantages of a complete plug-load management system go beyond energy monitoring and control. Since plug-loads are so localized, employees can monitor their personal energy consumption and become an active partner in reducing it. In this way, the modlet system has been used by corporations to engage individual employees in corporate social responsibility efforts.

Plug-load management systems also help in equipment purchasing decisions for facilities managers. The power consumption profiles for each device help managers compare the efficiency of different printers, for example. In addition, the modlet provides insight into how frequently the equipment is used, which can help managers determine the optimal number and distribution of devices within an office.

In summary, plug-load management systems not only complement traditional BAS to provide total building energy monitoring and control, but provide other value-added benefits to tenants while boosting overall building energy efficiency. Together, lights, HVAC systems and now individual electronic devices can be managed optimally, painting a brighter picture for sustainable building automation.

In this article Pushing Alarms Beyond the Building Walls
Adding a monitoring, alarm, and notification system on top of your building automation system

Dane Overfield, Process Data Analysis, Calculation, and Alarm Notification, Exele states;

Automation systems have allowed people to control and monitor their data and alarms from within the physical environment that is being monitored. Although these systems have worked well, users’ appetite for data and information has increased with the widespread use of mobile devices and platforms and the availability of non-automation data on these devices. “I can see the current weather and get weather updates on my phone, why not my automation data and alarms”. At first glance, the proposed solution may be to open up the data and alarms to mobile users. Yet mirroring the vast amount of information available in the automation system to mobile and remote users may not be the best approach. The goal is not only to allow users to see current information, but to inform them of upsets or abnormal behaviours at the time of the event. The benefit of the proper solution is to direct the right data to the right people so they can make the required decisions.

In summary

These are but a few examples of some of the interaction we must create with the “O’s”

Occupants, Owners, Operational teams and yes even the general public and beyond, that we now refer to as “Oh!  Others”, While doing all this we must also fight the last big ‘O’ the obscurity of our past. We truly live in interesting times.


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