February 2007

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Unlocking the secrets of facility management systems to access a wealth of actionable information

  Gridlogix University Whitepaper

PDF of whitepaper is available at

Buildings, the university's largest and most costly asset, are gaining management's attention because of energy expenses. Universities are responding to rising costs by bringing real-time data into high-level management decisions through a practice known as enterprise building management (EBM).

EBM reduces costs and compliance risks, while improving the manageability of facilities and networks. The most clearly evident and tangible benefit of EBM is near-term energy savings. EBM also reduces maintenance costs and provides new levels of management insight and responsiveness to occupants.

The technologies behind EBM are here today, available and tested. What does it take to make costs visible and assignable, and make your university more effective in its mission? How can your university start using real-time information to deliver higher quality services at reduced costs, and enjoying vendor independence? Download this white paper and learn how to bridge the gulf between the business and operational layers of your enterprise.

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Enterprise Building Management for Universities

University Chancellors manage enterprises whose missions are to educate students, research solutions, and guide social progress. Rarely does facility management make the top of the list, even though buildings are the university's largest and most costly asset.

Energy expenses gain the attention of financial management, but accounting systems cannot make costs visible and assignable without access to detailed data. Information officers have been locked out of the facility management systems that could provide the missing piece.

Those systems house real-time information that can reduce costs, but that is only the beginning. Facilities can make universities more effective in their missions. Real-time information and control, when integrated with the business information technology (IT) infrastructure, creates new levels of management insight, compliance visibility, and responsiveness to occupants.

How can universities bridge the gulf between facility management systems and other business systems? The key is in a system of systems sharing meaningful information across a flexible, cost-effective infrastructure. The systems and the infrastructure are in place. This paper discusses the next step toward delivering high quality services at reduced costs: integrating facilities into enterprise management.

A Tale of Two Systems
On every campus there are control systems that manage building functions, and there are systems used by administrators to manage the operation of the university. Each has much to offer the other, but they rarely intermingle.

Building controls
HVAC controls are a building management function, one of many similar examples:

Enterprise systems
Management decisions and actions require information. All kinds of enterprises have adopted information systems, such as SAP and PeopleSoft, to help manage resources, supply chains, and relationships with the enterprise's stakeholders and clients. The objective is to gather data from disparate systems and deliver it as useful information. This requires information to be normalized for meaningful correlations.

Financial software is one system used to manage the organization, including compliance with regulations. There are many similar examples of management applications at various levels:

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Wherefore Building Control Systems?
Each building control system is optimized for its intended purpose, the "best of breed" available at the time of purchase. The engineers who developed them applied the best practices in their applications. Each pony has one trick, which it performs impressively.

The island effect
Each of these systems has a narrow focus of operation. A small part of an enterprise is served by each system and, as a result, a small portion of the potential value is delivered.

Sharing data is not a priority for individual systems, so they have a limited amount of integration, if any. Centralized administration is nonexistent, seen as a disadvantage by vendors who prefer to lock customers into their products.

Islanded systems make it difficult to increase functionality -- most have achieved the peak of their abilities within their narrow scope. A facilities manager might ask, "If all I have after the upgrade is a newer version what I have now, why upgrade before current systems fail?"

To overcome the shortcomings of building control systems requires the integration of these islands with each other and with enterprise-wide management systems. The goal is an interoperable system of systems -- multiple subsystems sharing data across an intelligent network architecture.

Open Standards Close Gaps and Unlock Benefits
Enterprise information systems are based on open standards -- publicly documented architectures and industry-standard protocols -- which were adopted years ago in IT and are a requirement there today for several reasons. These enterprise-class open standards enable IT to develop multi-vendor systems and networks, decreasing the cost of integration and ownership. As performance results become more measurable and auditable, the value of each data point increases.

Advantages of enterprise-class open standards
Open standards enable interoperable technologies to replace islanded, proprietary technologies. Even if technologies from multiple vendors are built on different open standards, they can be integrated using these robust IT standards.

Open architecture
Scaleable, open architectures are able to interoperate with multiple vendors and business entities. They are directory enabled and discoverable, to minimize administrative overhead. They are stateless, to reduce network burden, and designed to support failover measures to achieve 99.999 percent availability.

Open protocols
Given the life span of a facility, it is seldom practical to change the building to accommodate new systems. Protocols based on open standards accommodate buildings by working with heterogeneous data sets and functions.

The open protocols applied in IT have the added advantage of being a known entity to enterprise developers. New systems are easily integrated.

Closed controls confront open standards
IT is increasingly asked to integrate non-standard systems into the enterprise data infrastructure. Building control systems do not adhere completely to IT standards. Networks such as BACnet, for example, expose some challenges when moving to open standards.

Enterprise IT staff are seldom familiar enough with building controls to know how to integrate them and whether those systems could compromise the network. Only through training and experience will they have the skills to securely bring together such dissimilar systems as Internet protocol and LonTalk, for example.

Even for skilled IT professionals, some systems simply are challenging to integrate. Many protocols are not up to enterprise IT security standards, or force integration at a level too high (excessively abstract) or too low (causing data overload) to capture the benefits of the synergy.

What is Enterprise Building Management?
The typical university facility is a diverse sampling of building management challenges. There are research laboratories, athletic facilities, cogeneration plants, offices and living quarters. Universities are responding to rising energy costs with new ways to centrally manage their energy portfolios.

This centralization requires energy management to integrate and coexist with the rest of the enterprise information network. Universities can benefit by bringing real-time data into high-level management applications -- bridging the gulf between the business and operational layers of the enterprise-- through a practice known as enterprise building management (EBM).

EBM is a discipline of integrating control systems into the enterprise management infrastructure --HVAC meets SAP -- using an IT approach, rather than a controls approach. It is also a process of normalizing data, to deliver useful information for centrally managing energy portfolios.

EBM is a concept, not a specific protocol, but the most feasible approach is to use a service oriented architecture (SOA) and its central component, Web Services.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] What are Web Services?
Web Services provide an industry standard method of connecting multiple applications, both inside and outside the enterprise. This enables the exchange of critical energy information -- consumption, pricing, supply and logistics -- throughout the supply chain. Web Services bridge any operating system, hardware platform, or programming language, without requiring middleware. Widely adopted open internet standards guarantee continued interoperability.

The "Web" in "Web Services" can be misleading. It comes from the fact that the standard is based on Internet protocols. Web Services are a machine-to-machine interface; they do not rely on a Web browser, which is a human-to-machine interface. Browser-based administration is not a function of Web Services, either inside or outside the network (although such a program can be constructed using Web Services).

When machines talk to each other, it is the data, not the presentation, that matters. Most Web Services use the extensible markup language (XML) data format. XML is not pretty -- in fact, it is barely readable for humans -- but it is effective at exchanging data between systems that were not originally designed to interoperate. The word "extensible" implies that XML is an evolving standard. There will never be one standard for XML, although groups are working to standardize it for specific applications and industries.

Web Services create a computing environment that is vendor-independent. When vendors take an independent approach, it can impede an EBM strategy. The most common impediment is a requirement to integrate through a vendor's proprietary administration interface.

EBM Applications and Benefits
EBM reduces costs and compliance risks, while improving the manageability of facilities and networks. In an integrated system of systems, everything from weekend lighting to new construction can be continuously optimized. A whole new generation of enterprise applications will use real-time data from buildings to improve management insight and decisions.

Energy Costs
The most clearly evident and tangible benefit of EBM is near-term cost savings. Whether managing all systems in a building, or managing one system across several buildings, EBM enhances the ability to contain energy consumption.

Evolving energy markets create opportunities to reduce energy costs, but taking advantage of those opportunities is increasingly complex.

Example: A facility manager can set a policy to run major pieces of laboratory equipment at times that take advantage of time-of-day utility tariffs.

Maintenance costs
EBM reduces maintenance costs and changes the way asset management works. Instead of reacting to failures, a university can be proactive about maintenance and reduce repair costs. Parts inventories can be smaller, and replacement parts can be ordered in anticipation of needed service.

A simple example is replacing air filters based on the actual run time, instead of the calendar, improving HVAC performance and indoor air quality, while reducing the time and expense of needlessly changing filters.

Expanding this example to a larger scale, a maintenance management system that interacts with a building control system can monitor run times and performance for all equipment. Based on real-time information, the system detects a compromised motor and submits an order for replacement parts. When parts are delivered, that event generates work requests, scheduling the work for the off hours. A repair technician arrives with the right parts, ready to complete the maintenance in one visit, minimizing truck rolls and costs. All of this happens before the motor fails.

Support & manageability
EBM enables connecting existing systems, to achieve new levels of centralized monitoring and control. It enables management from anywhere -- on campus, or off.

As standards evolve, EBM adapts. As needs change, new systems can be integrated ad hoc, through Web Services, often without human intervention. When support or systems management are required, the skills are mainstream and readily available.

Basic electricity reliability is as important to a university as it is to any enterprise. Simply keeping the lights on eliminates class cancellations and other interruptions. Life safety and security systems are mission critical -- just ask any parent.

Data centers are everywhere on a campus. Each is a facility within a facility, with its own energy and cooling needs. Availability is essential to those who depend on it.

EBM improves reliability by anticipating situations that could interrupt the university's mission, allowing management to act, rather than react.

Administration of facilities
The integration of building systems brings control to those who need it, reducing demand on facilities management staff.

Example: A secretary uses a desktop application for conference room scheduling, audio-visual control, and temperature setpoints.

IT-level integration enables automated interactions between systems based on trigger events. Machine-to-machine interfaces are fast, convenient -- and always on duty.

Example: A professor swipes an access card to enter a building on the weekend. This activates HVAC and lighting in the professor's space, so she is safe and comfortable. Administration accurately bills the department for use of the environmental systems.

Cogeneration & campus utilities
EBM provides information to help efficiently operate energy-producing utilities on campus.

Example: Load modeling, combined with hourly electric tariffs and meteorological data, enable optimization of combined cycle and thermal storage systems.

Universities manage compliance with many regulators, dealing daily with health regulations, EPA guidelines and government requirements for laboratories. The loss of an accreditation, such as animal care, could be very costly for some universities.

EBM allows health officials to examine conditions such as indoor air quality directly, without the support of facilities management staff. Historical data establishes a visible pattern of satisfactory conditions -- for occupants of all species.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Education
Sensor data and other real-time information can be used in classroom activities to enhance teaching of certain subjects. The university provides a living laboratory for students whose careers will require experience with these technologies.

Examples: A business professor can assign projects that use live data to develop new business models for energy purchasing. Architecture students can get practical experience with LEED verification. Engineering students can work with advanced controls.

Data lifecycle
Energy models and construction documents are used in commissioning. They become part of the EBM system after project completion, making it possible to continuously commission a building. Actual data gathered through the life of one building becomes input for planning the next.

Open access to data
Integration allows energy information to be elevated to the management level, increasing usefulness. Management need not be frustrated by poor visibility into facilities issues. With hard data they can confirm complaints and get funding to fix problems.

Current processes, such as metering and internal billing, can be streamlined with EBM. Energy data can be incorporated into management reports and spreadsheets, and thus included in all levels of decision making.

Revealing hidden data, discovering new uses
It would be impossible to anticipate every benefit of EBM, because of the many unforeseeable ways in which data might be used.

Imagine predicting, in 1993, the numerous ways in which the Internet would be used. Many envisioned online newspapers, but few imagined iTunes or Google Maps. The availability of any new resource sparks the imaginations of enterprises and entrepreneurs who match unmet needs with the newly discovered potential.

Making the Case for Enterprise Building Management
This paper has discussed many of the technical advantages and benefits of EBM. The decision may seem easy. University administrators usually want to see a business case, first. How do you build a business case?

Quantify the impact
Whatever your situation, something in the preceding pages stands out in your mind as a leading reason for the university to move to EBM. There may already be a consensus at your university about the primary problem -- it might be cost, reliability, convenience, or compliance -- and the job of the business case is to justify EBM as the solution.

In every business decision there are choices and alternatives, one of which is to do nothing. Find the economic or safety impact of the status quo, compared to EBM. Your business case will be centered around that impact.

Enterprise building management may seem like a Utopian future. But the technologies described in this paper are here today, available and tested. Universities have started requiring these capabilities for their new building control system components.

Web Services are a secure, robust framework built on open standards. Gridlogix EnNET® leverages this framework to integrate building controls and systems. EnNET doesn't replace building controls, it connects them, sharing data and services using the enterprise data network.

Your university can start using real-time information to deliver higher quality services at reduced costs, and enjoying vendor independence. Gridlogix will help you build your business case.

Bridge the gulf between the business and operational layers of your enterprise. Include facilities in your management decisions. Contact Gridlogix by calling 1-866-903-6638 or visit www.Gridlogix.com


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