September 2004

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EMAIL INTERVIEW -  Alan Kell & Ken Sinclair

Alan KellAlan Kell MSc BSc

Alan Kell is one of the world’s leading consultants on innovation and change management at the interface between information technology and the built environment. He specialises in creating the vision, understanding and partnerships to deliver buildings that meet the changing needs of the 21st century.  In 1998 he established i&i limited, Europe’s leading intelligent buildings consultancy, in partnership with Allan McHale and Peter Colebrook. Together they provide a unique range of professional services in market research, strategic technology consultancy, and market development.

i&i limited and Intelligent Buildings 2004

Sinclair: Give me some background on i&i limited

Kell: In 1998, after a number of years working together informally, Allan McHale, Peter Colebrook and I established i&i limited as Europe’s leading independent consultancy on intelligent and integrated buildings. Our respective areas of experience with intelligent buildings are directly complementary, as are the professional services that we now provide.

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Sinclair: So what are these services?

Kell: Allan McHale heads up our Proplan division, which provides global, world-class market research and market intelligence. He’s been working in this area for 25 years, and is renowned for the quality and commercial relevance of his work.  Peter Colebrook leads our systems strategy consultancy, which identifies opportunities for integrating conventional systems into coherent systems for building management, control and communication. And my own focus is upon helping managers, owners and users of buildings to understand - and to capture - opportunities to improve building performance and deliver value through the more effective use of building intelligence.

Sinclair: How does this relate to Intelligent Buildings 2004?

Kell: One of the key requirements in this area is to create a shared dynamic for change based upon an recognition of mutual opportunity. To do this we’ve got to bring together the many different stakeholders involved with buildings. Back in 1998 we organised a major intelligent buildings event that was a great success, but we didn’t have the chance to follow through. With Intelligent Buildings 2004 (ib2004) we’re coming back to this, in partnership with several key players, and this time we’re determined to establish it as Europe’s premier annual event.

Sinclair: When and where is ib2004?

Kell: ib2004 is a two-day conference and exhibition on 23/24 September 2004. We’re running it at the campus site of BRE (the Building Research Establishment), which is in Watford just north of London. It’s a great location, not least because there are a number of world-class demonstration buildings on site.

Sinclair: Who is supporting the event?

Kell: We’re organising this event in partnership with BRE and in association with the IEE (Institute of Electrical Engineers). We’re getting really great sponsorship support from industry, professionals, education and government and new sponsors are coming in every week. A full list of current sponsors is shown on

Sinclair: How’s the event structured?

Kell:  We’ve got a focussed exhibition of leading companies and organisations, and an extensive conference programme designed to address three key questions: (i) why are intelligent buildings needed? (ii) what systems and solutions are now available for intelligent buildings? (iii) How do we deliver and manage intelligent buildings?

Sinclair: Is ib2004 just a European event, or is there an international dimension?

Kell:  This is very much an international business, with global challenges and global suppliers, so we’re definitely addressing the worldwide dimension. I’m delighted to say that Jim Young, Founder of RealComm and Anto Budiardjo, President & CEO of Clasma, will be speaking at ib2004 as well as Jim Read of Arup.

Control Solutions, Inc Sinclair: Is the time now right for a real breakthrough with intelligent buildings?

Kell:  I’ve been working with intelligent buildings for the past twenty years, and I’ve never been more optimistic that their time has come. The technologies are now mature enough to deliver robust, cost-effective solutions; suppliers now understand what they are selling and how to make the business case; and building owners and users increasing recognise the key contribution that buildings have to make to organisational performance in the 21st century. Finally, the relationship between building performance and issues such as global warming, energy usage, and climate change is now widely recognised, a recognition which is resulting in a completely new regulatory framework requiring better, more intelligent, buildings.

Sinclair: What are the remaining barriers?

Kell: A few, but none of them insuperable. We’ve got to establish a broader base of skills, not least amongst building professional and specifies. We need more proof of benefits – and here our links with the facilities management profession are crucial. And we need positive reinforcement of the message that better building performance really matters, and that it can only be achieved through the improved use of information and systems in buildings.

Sinclair: Some people still find the term intelligent building a bit off-putting. Do you agree?

Kell: Yes and no. Our position is that it’s the established term, so we’ve got to make the most of it. It may not be perfect, but then who would have believed that a term like “green” buildings would have made such an impact! We make the term intelligent building work in two ways: firstly, by linking it to specific performance objectives – for example, intelligent & green, which is one of our most successful worldwide programmes; and secondly, by applying it to specific types of buildings, as in intelligent offices, hotels or retail stores. We find that this makes the term really powerful and effective.

Sinclair: Are there still opportunities to participate in ib2004?

Kell:  Absolutely. The programme‘s designed to allow participation from everyone attending, so we’re still actively looking for more people to be involved. If someone is interested in participating, but can’t make it to ib2004, we would still like to hear from them so we can involve them in our future activities. We’re definitely in this for the long haul, so I’d be pleased to hear from anyone committed to developing the worldwide market for intelligent buildings on


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