September 2009

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Jim SinopoliEMAIL INTERVIEW Jim Sinopoli & Ken Sinclair

Jim Sinopoli, Principal, Sinopoli and Associates
Author of "Smart Buildings"

Contributing Editor

Smart Building Product Ratings

With a product rating we think that stakeholders will find the design, sourcing and integration of building systems simplified.

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Sinclair:  Jim, tell me about the Smart Buildings Product Rating program. How will it help the industry in sorting through products and components?

Sinopoli:  Ken, with the wealth of products, promises and the multitude of building systems and components in the market, we find that identifying and sourcing the right products can be cumbersome. Developers, designers, architects and consultants are tasked with finding the right product to fit the project. This can take up valuable time.

Sinclair:  How will it benefit the project team?

Sinopoli:  The question building owners, designers and contractors have is how to easily assess whether a product is fit to be a part of an integrated building system at the physical, network and application levels. One way is for the product to be evaluated against strict criteria and then rated, with the rating indicating the product’s capability to be integrated and the functionality it can provide to the building’s performance. The Smart Buildings Product Rating Program evaluates and rates building system products. The Smart Buildings evaluation provides an objective examination of the products and firsthand information from independent industry experts. With a product rating we think that stakeholders will find the design, sourcing and integration of building systems simplified.

Sinclair:  How are products rated as a Smart Buildings Product?

Sinopoli:  Product rating is primarily based on integration standards developed and copyrighted by Smart Buildings. We understand that there are different ways to design integrated building systems and different concepts of what integration is. We’ve defined six different levels of building systems integration and use that as the common integration framework for evaluation. Our experience with clients is that the definition of different levels of integration brings clarity and understanding to system integration. One component of the product rating is which level of integration the product fits.

Smart Buildings evaluates products in every potential product class - from wireless sensors to information dashboards. The products are submitted for evaluation by manufacturers and vendors. The Smart Buildings team evaluates the product against an established and rigorous set of guidelines known as the Smart Building Principles of IntegrationÓ.

Sinclair:  What information do you use to rate a product?

Sinopoli:  The evaluation process may involve data gathered from the manufacturers as well as from their clients using the product. It may also include product specifications, interviews, testing by third-parties, review of certifications and demonstrations. Smart Buildings may review or observe testing of the product by the manufacturer. The evaluation leads to a numerical score and a ranking bracket.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Sinclair:  How is the product rating used?

Sinopoli:  We believe that product ratings offer several benefits: the shortening of project schedules, a reliable source to owners/developers, architects, and consultants to procure the products relevant to the building, improvements to occupant and building management experiences, higher customer satisfaction rates and reduced costs. Each product rated by Smart Buildings can bear the Smart Building Product Rating mark and will be listed on Smart Buildings’ approved product rating directory.

The evaluation of the products by Smart Buildings allows objective assessment and judgment of the products from a firm independent of manufacturers and dealers. The Smart Building Product Ratings reassures potential buyers and interested parties that products used for integrated building systems have the standards to promote interoperability and integration. Smart Buildings will provide a database of product ratings to building owners, developers, architects, general contractors, integrators, designers, organizations and potential product buyers. The database will provide detail on the product ratings and their ability to meet or exceed the Smart Buildings Principles of IntegrationÓ.

Sinclair:  If a manufacturer or potential user is interested in having their product evaluated, what is the process?

Sinopoli:  For further information and details on the rating process and directory and how to submit a product for evaluation, write Gina Elliott, Vice President of Development at



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