Archive for the ‘IIT’ Category

Best pratice: Combining green and intelligent building solutions

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The best practice is a building is one that is both green and intelligent. It is a building that uses both technology and process to create a facility that is safe, healthy and comfortable, and enables productivity and well being for its occupants. It provides timely, integrated system information for its owners so that they may make intelligent decisions regarding its operation and maintenance, and has an implicit logic that effectively evolves with changing user requirements and technology, ensuring continued and improved intelligent operation, maintenance and optimization.

This building to be designed, constructed and operated with minimum impact on the environment, with emphasis on conserving resources, using energy efficiently and creating healthy occupied environments. It must meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainability is measured in three interdependent dimensions: environmental stewardship, economic prosperity and social responsibility. The building to exhibit key attributes of environmental sustainability to benefit present and future generations.

The building to be fully networked for all incorporated systems, where the basic objective is the simple integration of independent systems to achieve interaction across all systems, allowing them to work collectively, optimizing a building’s performance, and constantly creating an environment that is conducive to the occupants’ goals. Additionally, the inclusion of a fully interoperable system in the buildings tend to perform better, cost less to maintain, and leave a small environmental imprint than individual utilities and communication systems.

UK BREEAM and Energy Star rated buildings in the United States earn substantial benefits compared to non-green buildings; in particular 40 per cent greater energy efficiency compared to standard buildings and significant lower operations costs.

Based on industry data, approximately 85 per cent of ENERGY STAR-rated buildings use a system with energy management controls and 50 per cent use lighting system motion sensors to qualify for the ENERGY STAR certification. The idea of leveraging intelligence to enhance building performance, either for energy efficiency or occupant comfort and thereby obtaining credits is also acknowledged by the U.S. Green Building Council. If the objective is clear, the credit system under LEED is geared to recognize building performance that has been enhanced by automation and IT-centric intelligence.

Each building is unique in its mission and operational objectives and therefore, must balance short- and long-term needs accordingly. Bright green buildings provide a dynamic environment that responds to occupants’ changing needs and lifestyles. As technology advances, and as information and communication expectations become more sophisticated, networking solutions both converge and automate divergent technologies to improve responsiveness, efficiency and performance.

To achieve this, bright green buildings converge data, voice and video with security, HVAC, lighting, and other electronic controls on a single network platform that facilitates user management, space utilisation, energy conservation, comfort, and systems improvement.

According to industry experts, building owners are not going to make any investment unless it has a return-on-investment. The question that building owners should ask is what is going to drive the ROI calculations. If there is no value in carbon and no value in saving energy and no value in terms of corporate social responsibility, then there is no value and there are no ROI calculations. In developing a financial justification for investments in intelligent and green technologies, and assessing the potential return on that investment, it is necessary to consider new construction and retrofit projects separately, because the requirements, and therefore the economic fundamentals of the two types of projects are very different.

New Construction
In a new construction scenario, the cost of creating a green and intelligent building is often not that different than the costs associated with creating a traditional building. Certain aspects associated with intelligent building technology and applications, such as cabling, are actually less costly than traditional infrastructure – in the case of cabling, labour costs are often lower where intelligent designs are used. However, other technologies and equipment will require additional investment to integrate all of the components of the system. For example, integrating the access control systems with lighting and HVAC systems will cost more up-front than installing disparate systems alone. As has been found in all of the case studies examined as part of this research, this initial investment in green and intelligent design and technology generally has a relatively short ROI period when compared to the anticipated usable life of a modern building.

Existing Buildings
Retrofits are more frequently driven by the desire to reduce energy costs than anything else. These are often cases where the existing technology or system in a building can be upgraded easily and the payback period is expected to be short. Intelligent building features such as better monitoring and control of energy-intensive systems such as HVAC and lighting can provide for optimum performance and predictive maintenance needs, reducing both energy usage and operating expense. Additionally, reporting features assist in making decisions that make the building more efficient and more reliable.

Integrated building professionals report that facilities managers get very little decision making information, so tuning up the control system is the best thing they can do to optimize the building. With one unified approach to monitoring facilities, buildings can change the underlying infrastructure without changing the enterprise level reporting mechanisms. This allows building owners to have a heterogeneous infrastructure that creates more competition between technology vendors, where they can begin to generate savings more quickly, and can generate an ROI payback in two to three years rather than over the course of a decade. By integrating utility bills into the enterprise asset management system, facility managers can further provide diagnostic information to facility managers, enabling them to take immediate action. In order to conserve energy – and money – it is imperative that proper information management architecture is in place, which makes the information actionable and definable.

Occupant Productivity and Comfort
Occupant productivity, especially in owner-occupied buildings, has a significant measurable impact on the ROI calculation. Given that energy costs represent about one per cent of the overall cost of doing business and investment expenses are about 10 per cent, staffing costs can represent up to 85 per cent of the total cost of doing business. Any improvement in productivity can therefore have a significant positive financial return.

Life Cycle Benefits
Depending on how the life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is addressed, this could potentially enable facilities and organizations to attain their long-term sustainability goals by developing their environmental monitoring systems to generate pertinent data. Therefore, keeping in mind that intelligent technologies are installed to deliver effective payback and long-term returns, it is critical for such systems to incorporate LCCA.

Essential to success: IIT for the next generation of property and facility management

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

As technology plays a greater role in the management and operations of our buildings, the relationship between property management, facility management, and IT is essential to success.

The role of IT in building management and operations, including the benefit of “networked” systems, intelligent green building technologies, wireless communications, process automation, and business solutions for finance and administration.

The value of incorporating IT into the real estate strategy, is essential, for the next generation of property and facility management.

Technology Grows as a Business Strategy Driver

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Property owners face steady pressure to stay ahead of competitors, to grow or diversify their portfolios, to full fill varying reporting commitments and accounting practices, to satisfy senior executives, tenants and other stakeholders, to stay abreast of industry best practices.

How can those leaders reconcile so many demands into a coherent business strategy that drives efficiency and profitability?

Much of the answer lies in a technology strategy?

Specifically, the adoption of advanced business systems that comprise a central element of a strategic business plan.  Technology solutions allow a comprehensive visibility that gives a complete picture of a portfolio, illuminating a path to organizational growth, efficiency and profitability. Heeding demands from property owners and managers for these advantages, leading software providers consistently deliver innovative solutions that give rise to the next wave of real estate best practices, including the latest in operational efficiencies and sustainable initiatives.
When all the crucial elements of an integrated, business-wide solution are present, the benefits become clear: better-informed decision-making and immediate access to a broad spectrum of relevant information.  The strategic payoff: risk mitigation and competitive advantage arising from cost savings, efficiency and economies of scale, and effective portfolio management and growth potential.

Consolidation into one solution

How do Internet-based software packages work to property and asset managers’ advantage?

They consolidate portfolio, financial, lease and other information into one database, while extending the solution to automate business processes and encompass all factors in the real estate lifecycle.  These factors include capital formation, investment management, acquisition and development, leasing and property management, electronic transaction processing, tenant services, portfolio analysis and reporting, and valuation and forecasting.  This kind of business-wide solution gives all network users instant, secure, real-time access to a single global repository of information from which all of these functions can be integrated and automated.

Integration of multiple management systems into one means that managers’ access to source data is immediate, avoiding the costly, time-consuming process of summoning ledgers and other reports from other data systems.  CFOs seeking underlying financial data, for example, can access that information in real time, rather than endure the costly, time-consuming process of requesting ledgers from a separate program.

Electronic processing drives efficiencies

Also crucial in such end-to-end technology is the capability to achieve operational efficiencies through systems that enable electronic transaction processing for both invoicing and payment processing.  Capability to scan mass invoices into digital images, automatically send them through the approval workflow electronically according to custom approval rules, and activate an electronic transfer of funds to the vendor?

With bank accounts is built into the most advanced business solutions.  Other characteristics of such systems including allowing residents and tenants to pay rent online using a credit card or ACH; and the mass-scanning of checks into digital images, the auto-application of these payments to charges, and deposit of the payments using electronic file transfer.  In such systems, images are stored in the central operating database, and processes are digitized and streamlined.  Meanwhile, the elimination of paper and paper handling introduces a more sustainable business practice.

MRO purchases standardised

Another potential element of an integrated technology solution for real estate properties includes online purchasing of building MRO supplies.  This practice ensures corporate-wide standardization for those items, along with integrated spend management.  In addition, procure-to-pay systems, in conjunction with systems described above, can eliminate paper invoices and reduce the costs of storing, sorting and printing invoices.

The routing and synchronization with various accounts payable systems across an organization that arises from centralized invoice processing cuts invoice-handling cycle times and costs and enforces consistent processes.  And again, if your company is interested in sustainability, such an e-procurement solution offers the opportunity for customizing green catalogues for your sites.

Portals extend dynamic access

Another of the latest strategic elements in an integrated real estate management solution is portals, which delivers the ability to extend dynamic access to services and information to external stakeholders such as tenants and residents, prospects, owners and vendors.  With its dynamic marketing capability and online resources, portals promise clear competitive advantage to property managers who leverage them.

Testaments to integration benefits

Users of an integrated property management software system validate its benefits.  “A principal benefit of a unified system is getting answers quickly and being able to discern, in real time, what the good and bad business decisions are,” said David Hott, CIO of the commercial and residential real estate owner/manager Legacy Partners.  “It’s also highly efficient to have one point of entry, without having to reload data from one platform into another or hiring extra staff to do that.”

Ken Kalman, Director of Information Services for the commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., added, “Our centralized system allows us to extract data for clients who might want two hundred general ledger accounts, for example.  Along with portfolio-wide information, we can access repair and maintenance information at the building level when we need it.”

Real estate technology has fully matured as a strategic element of a business plan, providing superior service, risk reduction, business-wide visibility and many other benefits.  Fully integrated systems with capabilities that were virtually unthinkable even 30 years ago are now within easy reach.  Companies are well positioned to achieve their strategic priorities across the full real estate lifecycle for their entire portfolio.  By adopting integrated technologies, real estate business leaders can reap the rewards of a more efficient, agile and competitive enterprise.

Building an Agile Organization with IIT

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Agility are essential to establishing and sustaining an organisation’s competitive position.

Agile organisations have the processes and structures that enable them to know what is going on both internally and externally, as well as to provide the mechanisms needed to act quickly on that knowledge. Although some view technology as the main way to attain that state, evidence indicates that enterprises can best achieve agility by following basic management principles, using imagination to see an organization in a different light and having a willingness to adjust or change as needed, based on circumstances.

Being agile requires capabilities that are shaped by designing and managing and technology enablers jointly. That can be achieved through the steps in the three distinct yet related areas outlined below.

Learn to sense and respond.

• Establish relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and the public in order to always know what’s happening around you.

• Create structures and processes to understand the information you receive and how to act on it.

• Facilitate learning from various processes based on recurrent sense-and-respond cycles to support the collection, distribution, analysis and interpretation of data associated with business processes and the generation of response alternatives.

• Assess how business technology investments are handled in your firm’s strategic planning and budgeting activities in order to prepare for future spending and to avoid past pitfalls.

Emphasize improvement and innovation.

• Follow, listen to your customers and improve existing capabilities to constantly foster innovation instead of only being opportunistic.

• Focus on creating innovative processes through new technologies, services and strategies; generate “next” practices; and focus on fine-tuning your current operations.

• Combine improvement and innovation initiatives to constantly reposition yourself regardless of turbulence in the market.

• Examine the initiatives that are currently under way to ensure that they advance your organization and don’t just maintain it.

Distribute and coordinate authority.

• Adopt radically different forms of governance and translate your mission and objectives into information that can be easily interpreted by constituents.

• Replace traditional command and control approaches with mechanisms that facilitate coordination within and across locales, providing individuals, groups and units the autonomy to improvise and act on local knowledge, while orchestrating coherent behavior across the firm.

• Supplement processes with personal accountability and align them with the appropriate supporting business networks and information architecture.

All the above can be assisted with the implementation and adoption of an IIT building enterprise company strategy.

Smart Buildings, Intelligent Enterprise – IIT

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

How smart are your buildings?

Smart enough to assist you in making critical business decisions at the enterprise level?

The world of building control automation has certainly come a long way in recent years. During the past several years, building control automation has been a key component in helping you manage lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), safety and security, and access control in your facilities. The development of open communication standards like BACnet and LonWorks, and the advent of Web-based technology most recently has taken this investment a step further, allowing data drawn from these disparate systems to be consolidated and accessible from any Internet connection.

Without a doubt, this has laid the groundwork for developing what the industry has termed smart buildings. But in order to truly leverage the advantages produced by smart buildings, the next step needs to be taken in the form of making this data an active part of your business enterprise.

Many believe this step involves the convergence of building control automation with enterprise IT (information technology) systems. The idea is taking data mined from your smart building portfolio and integrating it with such systems as accounting, or ERP (enterprise resource planning), or business intelligence applications. For example, perhaps your enterprise accounting application could tap into realtime figures from an energy management system in your buildings, allowing you to see the true cost impact of energy expenses across your entire business.

The possibilities are many, as this data can assist in developing and benchmarking sustainability initiatives within facilities, comparing and contrasting design and construction methods employed, or even helping negotiate with energy suppliers on rates (per the example above).

The convergence of building automation with enterprise IT is an objective that will continue to substantiate your investment in building control automation for years to come. In a recently published reports, analysts describe this process as using the networking and computing infrastructure of your enterprise as an integral part of your building control automation infrastructure.

As opposed to the typical model of having the components of building control being entirely self-contained, integrating them with enterprise IT allows field devices to be networked on the same Ethernet or IP (Internet protocol) backbone as your IT systems and hardware. In the same manner, software used to manage building control would operate on the same computing platform as key enterprise applications.

This, holds numerous benefits, namely in the form of cost reduction. By re-using existing networking and computing resources owners reduce the need for multiple technology infrastructures—one at the enterprise level and one at the building control level. This subsequently leads to a reduction in staff required to manage multiple infrastructures.

By in large, though, this pure level of integration between building automation and IT is not occurring with great regularity. This is due in large part to the lack of alignment between facilities management and corporate IT groups within many large corporate owner organizations.

While many corporate owners have yet to achieve this pure integration, they are turning towards third-party services that facilitate communication between their building automation level and their enterprise level.

Current Options
Ron Zimmer, president and CEO, CABA (Continental Automated Buildings Assn.), www.caba.org, Ottawa, Ont., sees a myriad of factors impeding widespread convergence of IT and building control automation. In particular, is the fact many owner/operators do not see the full lifecycle value of mining data tapped from building control systems.

Yet the biggest deterrent he sees is the fact many owners/operators do not possess the in-house expertise to review the data and make the best decisions. In most cases, the person at the building control level does not have access to enterprise data and/or does not possess the authority to make a decision with regards to that level. This has created an opportunity for third-party companies to provide a bit of assistance.

Davmark provides a service to owners in which the company connects to existing building automation systems—primarily energy management—and, using BACnet as an information model, mines data over a WAN (wide area network) to a large database. Within that database Davmark runs a series of algorithms, based on mechanical, electrical, and energy consuming systems, in order to show owners savings on energy, maintenance, operations, regulatory issues, and comfort in what it calls an ongoing commissioning fashion. The company says it can connect with building control systems from all the leading providers.

“By connecting to these systems and running this fault diagnostic detection and optimization technology, we can find basically 15% or more in hard energy savings,” says David Slade, Director of Davmark Group. “That 15% is 15% of the HVAC energy-spend for the building. We can save that money without capital investment.”

Many top universities, including Harvard, Yale, University of Michigan, University of Florida, and Michigan State, as users of similar systems. In addition, this technology is in use at many prominent government buildings and life science facilities across the country.

“Our original vision was to have the system bring the information up to the enterprise, but what we found was that most customers cannot execute on that data,” says David. “Instead it’s a process where our own energy and mechanical engineers look at data and compare it to enterprise data in order to make recommendations to the owner on certain issues.”

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC), www.northcarolina.edu, Chapel Hill, N.C., made a similar investment during 2006 using the EnNET framework from GridLogix, www.gridlogix.com, St. Louis, Mo., and installation services from Cyrus Technologies Inc., www.cyrustechnologies.com, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. According to GridLogix, UNC required all control systems used within its 140 buildings on campus be integrated with its existing IT network. All disparate building control systems were to be consolidated into a single Web-based user interface with the inherent data communicated to the enterprise.

According to GridLogix, this technology, which leverages XML (extensible markup language) and Web services, aligns directly with converging automation and IT. Property managers are able to connect accounting systems to building management systems to determine energy consumption and develop procedures for cost allocation and control. Building owners can connect asset management systems to building management systems in order to automatically generate work orders, and perform dispatching activities, among other tasks.

Laying the Groundwork
Enterprise processes information and technology can certainly envision the benefit of integrating building control automation with corporate IT systems.

“Davmark don’t really see it being used in the accounting system. More likely for us would be to use (building control data) in some sort of data warehouse or business intelligence system so that analytics could be performed on the data for various uses,” says David Slade. “I can see that sort of data being useful in a variety of ways; trending, future design, sustainability initiatives (LEED / BREEAM), etc.”

Achieving that level of integration would weigh heavily on how the automation systems are set up. Ton says, “Depending upon the database structures used in the building monitoring systems I could see it being ODBC connections, or if need be some sort of XML integration using middleware or other integration tools.”

Davmark are still in the primary stages of developing its core building automation strategy it offers. Engaged in the development, construction, acquisition, management, and ownership of commercial real estate which can be adopted for any large project in such sectors as healthcare, retail, office, and industrial.

Given this growing nationwide presence, David recently implemented technology that allows it to tap into building information from many disparate systems across its multiple locations. Technology, integrates building control systems across multiple properties and makes key data available via the Web.

David says one of the goals is to develop a set of standards, not only for building controls, but also for the technology within the building from an IT perspective. This includes the type of connectivity each building requires, how data is being tied together, and how that same data is brought back to central spot. These standards in place will make the process described earlier by Ton more realistic, as the enterprise systems would be drawing on accurate and consistent data.

“From the property management perspective, our value to the organization is to be able to develop benchmarks in how we do what we do, (examine) our operating costs locally, regionally, and nationally and be able to translate that into usable data,”

“As we develop properties, we can take that information and get it into the hands of our leasing and development clients, so that as we structure deals, not only for development of properties, but also for the leasing of properties, they will have some good solid market info when it comes to operating expenses and cost to do business.”

This technology integration will play a major role as the company continues to successfully develop, build, lease, and operate facilities.

“A lot of times IT gets tucked into the backoffice supporting the accounting system, but this is a prime opportunity for IT to jump in and be a part of the business.”

“This is where the business of development and construction meets up with IT and where the two technologies start to come together.”  •

From TV to the Web to Your Phone

Thursday, June 4th, 2009


A football game is delivered to an iPhone with the SlingPlayer.

TECHNOLOGY evangelists and television aficionados want all their TV on the Web, and they are tired of waiting for Internet companies and content owners to make it happen.

 

J. Carrier/Bloomberg News

Charles Ergen is chairman of EchoStar, which owns Sling Media and its technologies.


The Slingbox Pro-HD, top, and the Sling-Loaded ViP 922, above, a digital video recorder that Dish Network will offer as a set-top box.

But such an entertainment nirvana already exists — at least for owners of a silver and black gadget called the Slingbox.

For the last five years, this device, which looks like it was plucked from the set of a “Star Trek” movie, has allowed users to pipe all their existing cable and satellite channels onto the Internet and over to any computer or cellphone.

Nevertheless, Sling Media, the five-year-old Silicon Valley company that makes the Slingbox, has been easy to overlook. Sling’s stand-alone hardware products, which start at $180 and plug into televisions, have been largely confined to the homes of a few hundred thousand technology geeks who love the cutting edge and don’t mind braving the dust devils behind their entertainment centers to get there.

Sling was acquired in 2007 by EchoStar, the satellite TV firm that then split into two public companies: the consumer TV business Dish Networks, and the Echostar Corporation, which owns Sling and is entirely devoted to developing and licensing digital equipment for the television industry. Under its new owner, Sling is about to become a lot more prominent. Now the question is whether EchoStar’s stewardship will propel Sling into most American homes, or just relegate it to the wayside on the road to convergence of TV and the Internet.

The first real test for the new Sling will come this summer, when Dish plans to offer a set-top box embedded with Sling’s features to its 14 million subscribers across the country. Called the SlingLoaded HD DVR ViP 922, it will be offered to subscribers for $199.

Part of EchoStar’s plan is to then license Sling technology to other satellite and cable TV operators and consumer electronics companies. The idea of “place shifting” or “Slinging” shows to any device, the company hopes, will become a standard trick performed by most high-end cable boxes.

But first EchoStar needs to find other TV companies that like the idea of Sling as much as it does. That could be a challenge.

Many television networks and cable operators are currently engaged in competing efforts to send their programming directly to their own Web sites and to online video hubs like Hulu.com. They are also building technology to identify online the customers who currently pay for television, so they can make available to them programs from paid-cable networks like HBO and the Discovery Channel online as well.

“There seems to be a couple of other ways of doing the same thing as Sling without a hardware-based approach,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at Pali Research. “Sling has not yet been proven to be something that is a must-have for a wide audience.”

Sling executives say their technology gives consumers everything they want and offers cable and satellite companies a way to hang on to their paying customers. Consumers can see the same channels on the Web or on their phones, in the same order that they have grown accustomed to on their own home televisions. If they also own a DVR like a TiVo, they can also see all the programs they have saved. (The company complements that selection with old episodes of programs on Sling.com, a site similar to Hulu.)

And cable operators can extend the reach of their traditional programming lineups and prevent their users from flocking to Web video sites, which have fewer and less valuable ads.

Sling also offers cable and satellite companies an easy way to get television to a variety of mobile devices without having to develop specific video services for each. Sling recently released a $29.99 application for the Apple iPhone, for example, although AT&T insisted that it work only over WiFi, and not over the carrier’s 3G network. AT&T said it feared that Sling’s streaming video could hog its bandwidth and lead to dropped calls.

But network congestion may be the least of EchoStar’s problems. In selling the Sling concept to other television and satellite companies, EchoStar will likely run headlong into something even more formidable: longstanding industry grudges.

The chairman of both EchoStar and Dish Network is Charles W. Ergen, the satellite television pioneer who has had business skirmishes with companies like Viacom, Liberty Media, AT&T and Sirius XM. (Mr. Ergen declined to comment for this article.)

In the television business, memories can be long. To some cable and TV executives, the idea of licensing Sling, even if they covet the technology, might feel a little like climbing into bed with a fierce competitor.

“He’s got a hard slog in the U.S. If you are an overseas cable operator and you don’t compete with Dish, maybe there is an opportunity,” said John C. Malone, chairman of Liberty Media and a major shareholder of DirecTV, in a brief interview last week at a tech conference.

Echostar seems to understand such sentiment. Mr. Ergen, besides being chairman of both Dish and EchoStar, is a major shareholder in the two. But Echostar executives emphasize that they are now separate companies.

“It’s probably our biggest obstacle: the politics of common ownership,” said Mark W. Jackson, president of an EchoStar division. “We believe that if we build the best product, they will decide to do business with us. That’s what we are trying to prove to everyone.”

The future of Sling and its Internet vision probably depend on it.

Home automation network (HAN)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

A basic overview of HAN architecture for AMI

The push for more consumer involvement in smart grid initiatives is slowly becoming more evident as companies and utilities attempt to grasp the overall impact of government mandated deployments of the smart meter. Understanding what the consumer needs and wants is quickly rising in importance with the goals and objectives of the energy industry.

There are various views and opinions as to how the US federal and state mandate translates to practical solutions. Primary as a viable solution is the deployment of smart meter technology. But not all smart meters are the same, hence the need for a more encompassing option. The complicated field of metering with its canopy of applicable hardware and software results in making intelligent decisions a difficult and rocky road for AMI proponents. Some have focused instead on defining what a smart meter is or isn’t. The resulting business models may or may not be implementable as technology changes the landscape or costly if human behavior fails to adjust to and embrace the deployed solution.

One thing is certain, that a smart meter without interaction from the occupants would diminish the gain in energy use reduction and jeopardize the utilities’ attempts at conservation and global warming compliance.

If the solution isn’t found through meter deployments, then it stands to reason that involving the consumer via technology and education makes sound business and good social sense.

This brings us to the need for a home automation network (HAN) – either a simple system or a complex one. Many envision the HAN with the smart meter as the center or focal point for data gathering and exchanging. The smart meter is the gateway through which the rest of the world garners information about the occupant’s electricity consumption. Others would rather have an independent gateway within the premise that is more controlled by the occupants with privileges allocated to the utilities or an AMI service company. The meter then would be just another peripheral device in the network that links the local network with the outside utilities. The internal home gateway would restrict and determine what information is available to external sources. The former is more in line with what the utilities are implementing while the latter favors the telecom, cable, and IT industry approach, which focuses on broadband home networks and less on low power mesh.

Planning a HAN in an uncertain market that is constantly changing and evolving can be daunting to any individual or company considering AMI deployments. Most seek simple solutions that require very little capital or are constrained to limited HAN implementation. Deploying programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs) is one way of semi-automating the home environment for demand response. Using in-home displays that link the external meter to a remote handheld or tabletop unit is another. Whatever the technology used, these early approaches to consumer involvement demonstrate a growing awareness for HAN planning and consideration.

Critical to planning any future HAN system is the communications architecture being considered. The current emphasis on mesh radio technology and the availability of completely different mesh protocols (ZigBee, Z-Wave, OpenRF, and so on) within each of these radio systems creates both opportunity and potential disaster when considering HAN development and deployment. Other networked communications architectures include power line modems, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and RS485 – all which add layers of complexity to deploying HAN technology. Coupled to this melee of competing options is the dearth of home networked products that provide meaningful and practical demand response solutions.

Making the right choice of communications backbone may well be defined in the legacy system requirements, the data requirements, the environment in which the HAN is located and how the HAN is to be used by the occupants. Cost and ease of deployment/implementation along with the level of after sales support required are considerations that impact a successful planned launch. Whatever choice is made, the decision to go with one or the other could also limit the availability of peripheral devices that can operate within that chosen communications architecture and by default the functions and features available to the consumer. So choosing wisely is paramount.

The correct solution to determining a HAN configuration is the “backwards” approach. Simply put, deciding what end result the network must accomplish and then determining which technology is best suited to do this. In most instances, a cost analysis report or a business case based on reliable information would suffice in evaluating the technology being considered. In other situations where the technology is not proven or the decision makers are not knowledgeable, a trial or test site may be necessary to familiarize everyone with the option.

As mentioned earlier, the market forces driving HAN development and deployment are directly related to the industry and its perspective of market need. Other drivers such as political and global issues also impact consumer anxiety and perception within the market. Hence developing a strategy for HAN architecture must take into consideration those drivers.

A typical HAN may consist of the following basic functional components:

  1. Node controller/gateway/central controller. A node controller is common within mesh networks for maintaining the communications link and exchanges necessary within the protocol. It may or may not be the gateway. The gateway, on the other hand, is the portal through which multiple conflicting protocols link and talk seamlessly. A central controller can be all three plus a data manger/data logger. It manages the network from a user perspective (such as a home computer or a home media server which can act as the controller).
  2. Peripheral devices. The fingers and hands of the HAN are seen in the sensor devices that gather information or provide levels of control. Such devices, such as a PCT, provide a measure of remote command and control to the premise HVAC system. Internal to these devices is the communications backbone which links the devices to the central element of the network.
  3. Software. There are myriad functions that must be accomplished for a HAN to successfully fulfill its intended design. For example, the mesh protocol software manages the mesh network communications within a low power radio configuration. At the gateway, the different protocols must be translated correctly and the data sent to the correct recipient. Throughout the network, some form of security must be employed – whether through software encryption or access denial methodologies. There is a large amount of embedded code within the peripherals that program the tasks associated with those devices. These command and control codes must be incorporated into a central controller which provides remote interaction with the sensing devices.

External to the HAN is the smart meter which may be the gateway to the utility. The smart meter may also just be a peripheral if the HAN has its own dedicated gateway. A smart meter that is very basic or uses wired access may need a HAN that incorporates a gateway. Shifting the gateway away from the meter may be a better cost solution or a strategic decision based on any number of factors. When deciding on the HAN to meter interfacing, these type decisions need to be considered.

HAN basic

A basic HAN (wired and/or wireless)

Intelligent Building (IB)

Friday, May 29th, 2009

The term “Intelligent Building” (IB) has become a very popular description covering almost all new commercial and residential buildings in major cities worldwide. In the general sense, IB relates to buildings that contain high-speed local area networks, protocols, fiber optics, multimedia environments and even satellite conferencing. It is generally believed that all modern IBs in the world possess advanced information technologies (ITs). The trend is for most building service systems to be integrated into an IT environment, which is an essential tool for an IB. IBs utilize advanced information, control and mechatronic technologies as well as employ smart structure and modern management theories. But IBs should encompass more than that; Davmark and our IIT solutions promote a true and comprehensive picture of IBs.

The definition of IB varies in different regions. Generally, an intelligent building is designed and constructed based on an appropriate selection of quality environment modules to meet users’ requirements by matching the appropriate building facilities to achieve long-termed building value. The definition includes two dimensions — the needs of the building developer/owner/occupants and the enabling technologies. The integration of these two dimensions will generate measurable long-termed building values such as productivity, market value, energy conservation, environmental friendliness and high working efficiency.

Flash Creators Reveal App for Saving Money on Energy

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Greenbox_capture_1Greenbox, a startup founded by the creators of Flash, announced the roll-out of its power consumption monitoring application today.

Installed along with networked electrical meters to a limited number of homes by Oklahoma Gas and Electric, the new trial is Greenbox’s first move into a market that’s quickly become crowded with competitors like Tendril, Agilewaves, and DIY Kyoto.

All these applications allow their users to see how much energy they’re using and, if they want to, reduce it.

“We believe we can make specific [energy-saving] recommendations based on your situation that are far more valuable than any of the general tips on websites.” said Matt Smith, the chief marketer for Greenbox.

Regardless of which application consumers end up using — they all provide similar functionality — the concept makes sense for consumers. But what’s in it for utilities?

Peakload

The shrinking gap between how much power utilities can produce and how much Americans will consume is driving the old-line industry to try to drive down demand for the product they sell.

As can be seen in the embedded chart, based on data provided by Peggy Suggs, an analyst at the Edison Electric Institute, the amount of slack in the nation’s electrical grid is shrinking. Without breathing room, the risk of blackouts increases and expensive (and dirty) backup power plants called “peakers” have to be fired up more often.

Electric companies could just build more power plants, but the permitting process is difficult and high-commodity prices are making construction increasingly expensive.

That’s led many utilities to turn to energy efficiency, which is sometimes called “the fifth fuel”. Most of the programs, though, remain in the trial stage. To make use of Greenbox or its competitors, utilities have to install some kind of smart meter for your household.
These meters can run up to $100, which multiplies out to many millions of dollars over a utility’s area of service.

Greenbox_capture_2

This cost has slowed adoption. As a result, demand-response programs only reduced peak-load by 27 gigawatts in 2006, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s not much, considering that more than 4,000 gigawatts  of power were produced by those other four fuels.

Once the meters are in place, a big key to getting “demand response”
programs to work is introducing a variable rate structure in which consumers are charged more for energy during peak times and less in the off-hours. In Oklahoma, they’re calling that variable system the Smart
Power TOU.

Greenbox_capture_3

The utilities figure that consumers will respond rationally to this price signal and cut their usage during the period by eliminating it or shifting it to a cheaper time.

But perhaps it’s the irrational drive of competition that could push consumers to save energy. Adrian Tuck, CEO of Tendril, another energy monitoring startup, said that his company has found that people who know how much electricity the Joneses consume try to keep up by driving their usage down.

“The most potent driver of change is beating your neighbors,” Tuck told Wired.com.

These applications are the beginnings of the new world Clive Thompson described about a year ago in which energy conservation isn’t just visible, it’s a public point of pride (or shame).

“Imagine if your daily consumption were part of your Facebook page — and broadcast to your friends by RSS feed,” he wrote. “You’d work harder to conserve so you don’t look like a jackass in front of your peers.”

For now, though, energy monitoring services are probably a year or two away from your desktop.

“From what the meter manufacturers say, the volumes will ramp up next year,” Greenbox’s Smith said. “That’s going to work out pretty good for us. If it was happening right now at this moment, we’d feel a little bit behind. We’re not quite ready.”

Images. 1, 3, 4: Screenshots from Greenbox. 2. Chart from EEI Data.

IIT retail solutions – A retailer’s “eyes and ears”

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Retailers and intelligent building systems form a sweet partnership that proves productive and profitable.

Retailers are always looking for an edge. With margins tight, these companies seek solutions to help run their daily operations a little smoother, a little faster, and a little cheaper. IIT technology is increasingly becoming the solution retailers choose to maximize efficiency in a wide variety of business functions while enhancing the retail experience for both retailers and consumers.

To date, some retailers are using IIT to improve internal business processes, such as energy management systems that collect data from thermostats and provide realtime insight into energy consumption in a particular store. Other retailers have discovered IIT solutions that remotely monitor store equipment to maximize uptime, or that use RFID (radio frequency identification) tags in merchandise to automatically track inventory. But this is just the beginning. Today, a trend toward self service has led to the proliferation of the vending machine, a segment of retail ideally suited for IIT.

With the rise of input devices, sensors and machines comes a host of other challenges. One of the most pressing is the need to keep track of inventory without a person being constantly onsite. Retailers also want to make sure products are in stock, and they want to know immediately about any malfunctions or tampering with the goods and equipment. Many of these issues are being addressed through some form of remote monitoring systems. So understanding how to capture these sales is very critical to this emerging and yet, growing market.

Eliminating the guesswork
The cost to implement new technology can be worth it when IIT solutions make sure retail stores and distribution hubs are running at peak efficiency and that data collected are properly integrated into backoffice systems.

Helping monitor its stock, plant and provide a proactive service. This open-architecture solution permits realtime IIT management and two-way communication.

With secondary value added srevices including utilizing the Internet WAN/LAN connections to provide ancillary services such as credit card processing, advertising, machine configuration, and other emerging technologies.

All of this information is can be accessible to operators via the Web. By analyzing the information collected through the monitoring applications, staff able to maximize its route efficiencies and better manage plant and stock.

A retailer’s “eyes and ears”
This drive towards efficiency is what the retail industry is all about: getting a small investment to generate maximum returns. The whole trend toward self-service focuses on providing value and convenience. With incredible macrotrend right now towards consumers leading busy lifestyles and wanting more control over their purchase experience and over their lives.

It is possible to provide automated retail units that use LAN & wireless communications for monitoring and control. More than provide customers product information through interactive displays that mirror an online shopping experience. But unlike Internet shopping, customers can walk away with their selection immediately.

“Everything that happens there at the store is centrally monitored, so that we can automate any service to ensure the network is performing. Alerts are generated automatically if there’s any attention needed to the store network.”

IIT technology can make sure things are running smoothly, acting as a company’s eyes and ears at the mini-store locations. IIT can take the place of a store attendant, watching what people buy and how the store ais working, taking note of things that go wrong, and communicating all this information back to the retailer. By taking on this role, IIT technology provides a better business experience for both the retailer and the consumer.

Happy customers
While intelligent retail units are much more sophisticated than traditional retail stores. Retailers  can keep retail customers satisfied: lower costs.

Retailers can use IIT data to run their units and service routes more efficiently, and as a result, increase their margins against resource price increases. This way, customers continue to enjoy low prices. When retailers can quickly identify and resolve service issues, they achieve a higher level of satisfaction. When they have realtime visibility into what is sold, they can more accurately project inventory needs and reduce safety stocks.

Retailers can fill their shelves with the right amount of product at the right time, they can reduce their distribution and merchandising expenses. IIT does not reinvent the basics of good retailing, but it allows those principles to be applied with more precision and less lead time.
Furthermore, with the realtime and historical sales data obtained through IIT technology, customers are given more of the stock items they actually want.

The bottomline
All this directly affects vending retailers’ return-on-investment. After implementing IIT Retail solutions, stores normally reporting significant savings immediately.

Brand-new world
There is another point to be made about IIT retail solutions. Remote monitoring and control solutions create new options for retailers that have never before been feasible.
Understanding of what consumers want is one of the key benefits of IIT systems that will only become more important in the future. In addition to critical machine health information—such as malfunction and out-of-stock alerts—IIT can collect and transmit a wealth of data about consumers’ shopping habits.

IIT can monitor how consumers are responding to various products, categories, and presentations so that the retailer gets analytical model data and can work with our brand partners and constantly improve the consumer experience.
The next 10 years of IIT Retailing will bring significant innovations on how retailers manage that all-important consumer experience.

“When we accurately integrate how and why people shop with where and what they buy, retailers can achieve higher level of relevance for their core shopper,” “In addition, shelf-level sales data will allow retailers to achieve even higher levels of distribution efficiency.”

With benefits that go straight to the bottomline, IIT and the Retail industry will surely continue to change the face of retail.

Integration

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Integration – “a combination of parts or objects that work together well”

This is our commitment to our customers – to provide an automation system that works well, to do this we take the best components and put them together is such a way that they do.

They work to reduce the cost of operation of buildings. They do this by being simple and easy to use.

Currently it is estimated that 70% of buildings in the UK have a  “Building Management System” – of this 70% very few are being used effectively, and most are only applied to the boiler system.

A system that is not being used effectively is contributing to the cost of operating a building – its contributing to climate change – not helping to protect the climate – not helping reduce costs.

Where systems are not being used effectively they might as well not be there at all.

They are not being used effectively because most are impossible to use on a day to day basis, having plantroom based unfriendly feature starved screens, and having no control of other services in a building, such as air conditioning, or lighting.

An automation system brings control out of the plantroom and puts it on the desktops of those who need it, at low cost. It brings control of services down to an individual room – optimising each room space as a single entity, controlling air conditioning, heating, lighting level, solar shading and interacting with room occupants if required.

Only in this way can air conditioning be inhibited from operation when a window is open, lighting maintained at constant lux levels, individual radiators switched off automatically and solar shading operated to prevent unwanted heat gains.

This is automation in action – the old “BMS” is so rooted in the plantroom, so unfriendly, so inflexible, and so impossible to provide a sensible Return on Investment.

Prevent 17 Common Lighting Mistakes

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Don’t underestimate the importance of an energy audit. It’s the basis for everything from evaluating the project’s financial worth to manufacturing and ordering parts.

Energy-efficient lighting retrofits offer an extraordinary chance to cut operating costs and improve lighting quality. But, along with the opportunity for improvement comes the opportunity for mistakes.

Some of the most inherent dangers in lighting projects are outlined here. If you follow the guidelines here and avoid these 17 slip-ups, you’ll be pleased with your lighting retrofit project.

1. Choosing the Wrong Team
Energy efficiency is more than the pursuit of energy savings. People are your most important and productive asset, so work-environment quality is critical. A gain in energy savings can be offset by a loss in productivity if quality isn’t part of the evaluation.

A good partner is just as much an experienced consultant as a provider of equipment and installation services. Beware of “instant experience” in energy efficiency. If you choose a quality partner, you’ll go a long way toward avoiding the 16 other costly mistakes.

2. Conflicting Chain of Command
Retrofits involve decisions with multiple objectives, and typically impact various departments. The best projects come from exchange of information among members of a project team taking direction from a project manager with the authority to negotiate from start to finish. If the final decision is made by the purchasing department without an understanding of your objectives, the system you want won’t be the system you’ll get.

3. Neglecting Frontline People
Sure, savings are important, but tenants and occupants will work in the new environment for years to come; if they don’t like it, someone’s going to hear about it. The best way to avoid complaints is to involve your associates from the start. Solicit ideas from experts and others who have completed similar projects. Keep maintenance personnel in consideration, think about replacement of wearable parts down the road, and be sure to include ease of maintenance in all specifications.

4. Calling in Experts Too Late
Before committing to a project, call in the experts. View your energy-services vendor as a partner, not just a supplier. Be sure your partner can stand behind every statement and warranty. When it comes to project management, you should expect these things from a true energy-services partner:

  • Establishment of goals for savings and facility comfort and quality.
  • Identification of project requirements.
  • A comprehensive audit (see No. 5).
  • Proposal development and opportunity to redesign.
  • Testing and evaluation.
  • Implementation.
  • Be sure you clearly outline to all prospective vendors that this is what you want, and be sure you get it.


Energy Use in Commercial Buildings: End-Use Breakdown
If you know how energy use breaks out, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to save energy in your buildings. SOURCE: EIA

5. Underestimating the Importance of an Audit
A retrofit isn’t like a new construction project – there’s no set of blueprints to start from, and usually no pressing construction schedule to keep. It’s the building audit or survey that establishes the foundation for all work to be performed. The audit is the basis for everything from evaluating the project’s financial worth to manufacturing and ordering parts.

Where can things go wrong? There’s the potential for mistakes in identifying existing equipment, its location, and the recommended replacement. There’s the potential to transpose numbers and make errors in tabulation of inventory and scheduling. At LIME Energy, factory-trained technicians use hand-held computers to identify fixtures and equipment by building, floor, room, and suite. Special codes spell out everything, including restricted access, time limitations, special working conditions, and other vital information used by project personnel. This becomes the blueprint for equipment selection, installation, verification, and billing.

6. Using the Wrong Approach
Manufacturers want you to buy their products – even if they portray them as “generic” as part of an overall installed solution. The trick is to get lighting, HVAC, motors, drives, and other energy-using equipment to work together. When you use a systems approach, you can achieve maximum savings and improve quality.

First, establish your objectives for light level, temperature, airflow, and hours of operation, and don’t assume that anything you have must stay the same. For example, most overhead lighting creates unacceptable glare on computer screens, and most desk work can be done with task lighting; a redesign of the entire lighting system may save much more energy than simply changing the existing equipment to the most efficient.

The only way you know you’re making the best choices for energy efficiency is to look at the entire building as a system.

7. Buying Based on Price
Energy-saving retrofit projects bought on price alone are usually a false economy. The few pennies saved upfront can cost thousands in lost savings, increased maintenance costs, and losses in worker productivity. Since the energy savings are paying for the project, why not choose higher quality and avoid risky situations, even if it means adding a few months to the payback?

Ask a qualified contractor to quote the steps of analyzing, designing, and installing a retrofit project, and you’ll know the fair market value for these services. Beware of the company that undercuts the going market price; it’s easy for vendors to cut price if they know how. They can:

  • Use untrained labour.
  • Substitute lower-grade material or use less material.
  • Bid unreliable or untested technology.
  • Supply discontinued products from vendors.
  • Use a commodity design instead of a custom product.
  • Cut corners on installation.
  • Skip permits.
  • Fail to pay suppliers.
  • Ignore UL requirements.

To an untrained observer, these tactics may go unnoticed, so establish criteria for product quality, and the quality of the installation work and crews, and communicate this to potential vendors before sending out for quotations.

8. No “What-If” Planning
A retrofit project impacts almost everyone, so consider the “what ifs.” It’s easy to identify and plan for anything if you take advantage of the expertise that a qualified company offers.

Take light-level readings and measure space temperatures before and after throughout your facility without telling anyone. That way, you’re prepared for the occasional troublemaker who insists that he or she can’t work because of unacceptable changes to the way things were before. Nothing resolves a dispute better than facts.

Prepare a project book that documents your work before and after. Senior management can’t help but be proud of you … the new corporate hero who saved them lots of money.

9. Not Testing Thoroughly
The greatest part of a lighting retrofit is that it lends itself to verification. Take readings before and after in the same locations, and gather information over time. Use the same metering equipment and account for cleaning, age, and sunlight location when making comparisons. Gathering information will enable you to verify the potential of a retrofit project every time.

10. Botching Up Installation
After a proposed design has been evaluated, you must develop an installation plan of action. Lacking coordination, installation can become a nightmare. Everyone needs to be informed and ready to cooperate. Communication should be in writing; otherwise, you’ll find yourself arguing with an associate or vendor about who ordered the wrong part or model. (You’ll also argue about who’s going to pay for the mistakes.)

Make sure your contractor has successfully worked in an environment similar to yours. Just as important, your vendor should be willing to provide an installation checklist that spells out every step, from security access and clean-up to special equipment needs.

11. Falling for “Bargain” Products
Ask for a warranty. Then, read between the lines. Does the warranty cover what it would take to replace a product in the event of a failure? Be sure to get a performance warranty that covers material, design, and installation.

Next, check your vendor’s financial net worth. There’s no value in a warranty if the company offering it has no assets. Taking the time to carefully evaluate technologies and vendors will pay handsome dividends in savings and improved building comfort and operations. Regardless of the price, it’s no bargain if it doesn’t work.

12. Failing to Scrutinize Proposals
Go back and look carefully at the proposals you’ve received. Check facts and figures; then, double check.

Most of the information you’ll need to make a decision is contained within the audit report: one more reason you can’t underestimate the value of the comprehensive audit and the complete, clear design proposal.

Another important point: Choosing a company without adequate financial resources can be dangerous. Invariably, there are always some adjustments to be made on a retrofit project. Your energy-services project provider must be able to absorb those costs and deliver as promised. An inability to pay suppliers, limited credit lines, or cash-flow problems can lead to delays and liens. If there are major problems, the customer becomes the natural focus for legal recourse.

13. Celebrating Too Soon
Sometimes, a retrofit test can fool you. The light-level readings you obtain today may not stay within an acceptable range over time. Depending on the lamp selected, different lumen maintenance curves apply. Over time, lamps will lose their brightness, shown on the lamp lumen depreciation curve. Also, dirt and dust accumulation must be factored into the equation. Always evaluate your proposals based on light-level readings that will be maintained over time.

14. Holding Back Too Long
There are two main reasons why companies hold back. One reason is corporate inertia. After all, the building is usually comfortable, and the lights still work; no one is complaining. With constant on-the-job pressures, who has the time for anything but today’s most urgent crisis? The other reason for delay is to wait for a new rate schedule, rebate, or technology.

But, the truth is, the savings you gain from a properly planned lighting retrofit almost always outweigh other considerations. Take advantage of energy savings now. Delaying a decision in anticipation of any future possibility means you’ll miss out on immediate savings.

15. Using “Average” Electricity Rates to Calculate Savings
While your average electricity rates can provide a quick feel for a project’s potential, actual electricity bills should be used to determine your savings. A common mistake is overlooking the rate structure that applies to your business.

Check with your utility to make sure the savings assumptions in the proposal are based on the correct rate structure.

16. Falling in Love with the Hardware
Sometimes, in the excitement of evaluating new technology, we lose sight of original objectives. For example, sophisticated control features can be appealing, but are often difficult to justify in terms of cost. You don’t want to pay for features you won’t use, or that are unnecessary.

It’s one thing to understand how technology works – what’s more important is how it’s applied.

17. Overlooking Opportunities
It’s a big mistake to believe that installing new equipment to save energy is “not in the budget.” That’s like saying you can’t afford to save money. The mere act of paying your electricity bill means there’s cash waiting to work for you.

To begin with, financial programs are available that will create positive cash flow from the start. In turn, a properly designed program virtually guarantees that your monthly savings will exceed your monthly payment.

If you’re a real estate developer or a building owner, make your space more competitive by upgrading to improved air-conditioning with better controls and better-looking light fixtures with appropriate light levels. An attractive, efficient building is one more step toward higher tenant retention.

Mistakes happen. Keep in mind that an energy-efficiency retrofit is more than the sum of component parts. These retrofit projects, by their very nature, require an educated buyer to sort through competing claims and ensure that quality and service are part of the evaluation process.

Bank of America Creates World Class Infrastructure to Remotely Manage 3,200 Branches

Friday, May 15th, 2009

In January 2008, Bank of America Corporation (BAC) launched a centralized facilities energy and maintenance management program designed to aid associate health and productivity and contribute to the corporation’s bottom line while diminishing its environmental impact. The Charlotte-based Intelligent Command & Control Center (iC3) integrates industry-leading hardware, software, analytics and intelligence to remotely monitor and control heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting and other building systems for thousands of facilities across the nation. All from a single location.

While energy management systems may not be new, their use traditionally has been reactive engagement in large facilities. iC3 uniquely addresses facilities of any size, proactively using data, innovative patented analytics and highly-skilled technicians to maximize energy efficiency and optimize equipment maintenance. Its current scope comprises 3,200 nationwide retail banking centers that utilize more than 13,000 HVAC units.

Several partnerships and strategic investments have contributed to iC3’s success. Charlotte-based Mechanical Systems and Services (MSS) is the General Contractor and Systems Integrator for the program’s nationwide deployment. Tridium provides the innovative technology platform that enables the remote monitoring, control and data efficiency. In addition, as part of the iC3 program, BAC made a strategic investment in Philadelphia-based Field Diagnostic Services, Inc. (FDSI), a small engineering firm focused on optimizing HVAC equipment performance.

With FDSI’s help, iC3 provides HVAC equipment fault detection, efficiency diagnostics and control algorithms. FDSI currently holds four patents, with two patents pending and another two in development. iC3 is driving the completion of these and other industry-leading intellectual property innovations through capital investment, intellectual collaboration, an aggressive energy-efficiency strategy and the provision of an expansive facility base as a test-bed. This innovation combined with great hardware out in the field enables the Bank to achieve the shift to predictive maintenance.

As HVAC units typically account for more than 40% of a building’s total energy consumption, the environmental and energy usage benefits of proactive monitoring and improved performance are clear: Since iC3’s inception just more than a year ago, energy (kWh) consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have decreased approximately 11%. To date, iC3 has saved more than 4,100 tons of CO2e. At full deployment, iC3 is designed to save over 2,200 tons of CO2e a month (26,850 tons per year), and by 2017 is forecasted to save more than 225,500 tons of CO2e. Overall, iC3 forecasts sustainable reductions in kWh consumption and GHG emissions of 10% to 15%. This comprises nearly half of Bank of America’s 2004 aggressive, voluntary goal of reducing GHG emissions across the company 9% by the end of this year, the EPA Climate Leaders pledge (the bank is poised to achieve that mark, with 2007 GHG emissions down 7.8% from the 2004 baseline). To put these environmental benefits in context, these energy and GHG reductions equate to powering over 800 homes for a year and the removing the GHG emissions of 11 million miles from cars.

Actual energy consumed in iC3-enabled locations has been down year over year despite utility cost inflation. When real savings and inflation avoidance are combined, iC3 is yielding a 10% to 15% benefit to the company’s bottom line in these locations, which translates to millions of dollars annually.

A final benefit of the iC3 program is minimizing non-productive or miss-categorized maintenance visits related to HVAC and lighting, which historically have accounted for a third of the reported problems that resulted in technician dispatch (or “truck roll”). Issues surrounding client “perception” (i.e. that a space is too hot or too cold when all equipment if functioning as designed) now are resolved remotely through the iC3 web-based software platform and customer interaction/education. Meanwhile, verified equipment failures can be reduced in severity from “emergency” to “planned” by remotely making appropriate adjustments to other equipment supporting the space. Optimized truck rolls cut operations costs while eliminating unnecessary driving emissions.

Consistent temperature control in associate workspace and customer-facing locations. Proactive monitoring and adjusting of remote systems. Decreased energy usage. Diminished environmental impact. iC3 is an example of how Bank of America Corporate Workplace helps distinguish the company from its competition by delivering innovative, environmentally sustainable real estate and workspace solutions.

OpenEMS – Creating Value Through Open Systems In An Energy Management Context

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Discussions of Open Systems tend to be long on technical concepts but short on concrete value propositions. I think that is partly because the term “Open” usually gets applied to systems in a technical context rather than a business context and partly because it is just easier to talk about “Open” in abstract terms. But, energy managers and facility directors can not take “abstract” to the CFO for funding nor can they take “technical” to the CEO for approval. To get Open Systems project approval from C-level executives requires that we translate Open Systems concepts into concrete value propositions. Defining OpenEMS and clarifying how it applies to particular organizations is a powerful tool for accomplishing that translation.
(Open Energy Management Systems) is a philosophy of doing business where energy-related product and service providers collaborate and interact through standards-based solutions to deliver maximum value to building owners and operators. In an OpenEMS environment, while equipment, software and services may come from different providers they interoperate quietly and efficiently in the background — allowing building owner/operators to focus on their core business.

There is typically a broad range of suppliers making up the “energy ecosystem” for an owner/operator. The owner/operator may work with utilities, mechanical service providers, alarm monitoring services, bill-pay-audit services, electrical contractors, sustainability consultants, demand-response aggregators and other energy-related product and service providers. Whether these providers are external suppliers or internal service groups, they are all part of the process of acquiring, using, controlling and managing the use of energy in a building.

One way to view an energy ecosystem is to think of it as a building owner/operators supply chain for energy. It includes all of the organizations that impact the sourcing, utilization and management of energy. Just like in manufacturing and retail supply chains, there are substantial value creation opportunities in improving the efficiency of interaction among the stakeholders in an energy ecosystem. OpenEMS is about accelerating the flow of information among those stakeholders while reducing the cost of transactions … and these can dramatically increase efficiency.

Improving the efficiency of interactions through links among business processes and information systems serving stakeholders in an energy ecosystem yields maximum owner/operator value. OpenEMS is the most cost-effective way to link these systems and share required business and technical information among the broad range players. This will result in substantial gains that flow to all of the stakeholders and benefit everyone through lower overall costs of doing business.

Who Benefits from OpenEMS?

OpenEMS offers substantial benefits to building owner/operators in a variety of operating scenarios. OpenEMS can lower costs, reduce environmental footprints and increase productivity of facility management staff. Owner/operators achieve lower costs through direct reductions in energy use, better utilization of service resources and lower exception processing costs. But owner/operators are not the only ones who benefit.

Commercial and industrial buildings account for a large fraction of the total energy used in the UK & US. There is tremendous potential for reducing building energy use through improved energy efficiency. There is also tremendous potential for improving the effectiveness of energy utilization in buildings through automated interaction among building systems, utilities and facility management systems. OpenEMS enables these interactions and as a result, benefits not only building owner/operators but also product and service suppliers as well as society as a whole.

Where Can You Get OpenEMS?

OpenEMS doesn’t come in a box, off the shelf, or through the mail. It is a web of business and technical connections among a building owner/operator and their suppliers. Of course, those connections require a technical foundation, or information platform, that bridges the gap between building automation (where BACnet is the key technology) and IT (where Web Services is the key technology). For a building owner/operator, that foundation will necessarily encompass their energy management system and that is why energy management system selection is a critical issue.

Energy management systems, and the companies that support and maintain them, must be full participants in the energy ecosystems of building owner/operators. This requires a different kind of system and a different kind of company. It requires energy management systems that support transparent industry-wide interconnection. Vendor-specific “standards” will not be sufficient. Collaboration among supplier companies will be equally important. No one company can optimally fulfill all roles in an energy ecosystem. As such, selecting an energy management system with the goal of implementing OpenEMS means selecting a partner as well as a product.

In a world of volatile rate structures, dynamic regulation and uncertain economics, energy management systems must do much more than just manage and optimize energy use. They must be integral components in energy ecosystems where they create a foundation for OpenEMS. Energy management suppliers must do more, too. By definition, no single supplier can deliver on the full value of OpenEMS, so best-in-class suppliers must work together to serve a building owner’s diverse and often complex energy management and information needs. In future columns I will walk through some specific scenarios where collaborative suppliers and OpenEMS can deliver concrete value to building owner/operators.

Smart infrastructure in buildings

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

The value proposition exists for all stakeholders, from the developer who saves from a lower capital cost to the operator and/or tenant who saves from a lower operational cost and to the end user who obtains a better user experience.

Without an intelligent infrastructure in the buildings they manage, facilities managers will increasingly find it difficult to monitor utility consumption, the first vital step in achieving energy savings and improving the bottom line.

As utility charges increase, and become punitive for organisations that show little progress in reducing their energy consumption, for example, the pressure is on management to establish a usage base against which future consumption can be managed.

Putting in place software solutions that help monitor consumption and check utility invoices for accuracy will also go a long way to helping facilities managers confidently manage their domains.

Gaining ground in the Building Automation Systems (BAS) arena is Software as a Service (SaaS) which is increasingly being implemented as an essential tool for facilities managers to better manage a single system or multiple systems of their property portfolios. There is a good business case when it comes to utility consumption and costs.

SaaS is application software remotely hosted and managed by a service provider that takes responsibility for ensuring the application is always up to date, integrating this where necessary with third-parties, such as telecommunications companies, electrical meters and municipal administrations.

In isolation, each of these administrative tasks has mainly nuisance value for the facilities manager if they are managed in house.

Each application must be individually upgraded and managed. New tariffs loaded and kept up to date and this is fiddly, time-consuming and not core to the business and therefore often is incorrect which causes more administration to rectify.

What we are increasingly doing with construction projects in which we are involved is to design the facility with SaaS in mind and ensure the components are included in the intelligent infrastructure of the building or complex.

This means that as components that need to be managed are installed – such as air conditioners, lighting systems, PABXs, lifts systems, fire alarm, security, access control systems – the communications infrastructure that enables their remote management is already in place and so implementation is straightforward. There is no need for a retrofit.

Having SaaS implemented from the start of occupation of the premises enables facilities managers to accurately manage consumption of services and implement energy saving measures.

“ICS Controls” Without the base measurements of energy consumption, for example, there is no way to accurately measure whether consumption-reduction strategies are being effective and saving operational costs. If you are going for a green star-rated building you will need this information to claim your green building council points.

But using SaaS is only the most obvious of benefits intelligent building infrastructure brings to facilities management. The profession should take a more proactive stance in persuading building developers to plan for future Information and Communication Technology (ICT) needs before construction starts.

A building’s integrated ICT platform needs to accommodate a variety of systems needed for the efficient operation of the building and tenant experience. These include security access controls, air conditioning, lighting, emergency evacuation systems, public address and promotional systems as well as tenant company-specific IT requirements.

There must be sufficient flexibility in the design of the intelligent backbone to allow for future inclusion of feature-rich services that were perhaps not initially envisaged or available at the time of planning.

Making allowances for expansion of services will contribute substantially to the owners ability to attract high-value tenants on long-term leases, thereby ensuring an attractive return on investment.

Having in place the intelligent infrastructure on which to implement building management systems gives facilities managers the tools to manage, for example:

• Energy data – – intelligent energy management, such as monitoring room temperatures in a data centre and turning air conditioners on and off within pre-determined temperature ranges, without the need for human intervention.
• Environmental data – enables, for example, individually adjusted ambient temperatures for reception areas and offices within the same building.
• Maintenance data – gives management the necessary information to be proactive in managing the facilities, such as escalators, access controls, power supply and telecommunications.
• Occupancy data – means having at management’s desktops accurate information about interactions with tenants and determining the profitability of rented space and facility usage, and
• Location data – this gives accurate information on the whereabouts of company assets and triggers alerts when these assets are moved.
The value proposition exists for all stakeholders, from the developer who saves from a lower capital cost to the operator and/or tenant who saves from a lower operational cost and to the end user who obtains a better user experience.

Green Intelligent buildings…Whats next?

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

An argument could be made that our preoccupation with intelligent buildings has been very focused on mechanical service controls with a bit of lighting control added. By that I mean the underlying communications architecture that has paid the price of entry for buildings to truly become both intelligent and green. In fact new technology just hitting the market for “energy business intelligence” will truly transform our industry.

For nearly a decade the buildings industry has talked of convergence and intelligent buildings. However I would argue that in spite of many developments the paradigm in our industry has not been shattered. That paradigm has to do with people. We have been preoccupied in the buildings space by standards like BACnet and LON and operator interfaces like browsers, but the fundamental fact remains: these tools are only intelligible to people who know buildings. In short all of the effort has been on the plumbing that carries data, but there has yet to be a fundamental sea change in the way that buildings and systems are actually controlled.

Over the most recent decade my emphasis has been on buildings and on the the importance of efficiency, demand response and smart grid. The timing is now for these ideas to be the emphasis in buildings. Of course with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act there are 767 billion reasons why that is true. For the UK its different, with new regulations come in imposing this requirements i.e.Welsh assembly on including BREEAM ‘very good’ rating in the conditions of planning approval. The construction sector companies are poised to build their entire business model around opportunities presented and that makes sense. However, it is also the right time to do this and it is the right thing to do. My personal belief is that no one is better positioned to seize this opportunity than the integration community. With the downturn in new construction many buildings professionals are scrambling to redefine themselves. Energy was seen as the most important business opportunity for the next three to five years, but the question of how to pursue it remains.

The next frontier for integration will look like a variation on energy services and will be built around the idea bringing value propositions to owners. At the heart of that offer will be a hot new technology that might be called enterprise energy management on steroids. Energy Business Intelligence will be to buildings what the iPod was to music. To illustrate this point I will use an analogy to another Apple product, the iPhone. Consider the catchy television commercials we have all seen that talk about “aps” (applications) for the iPhone like calculating the calories in your lunch or finding your car. For all the intelligence that has been put into buildings, at the end of the day only an engineer can truly diagnose and trouble shoot a building automaton system. So what about the green in the title of this article, well only an energy engineer can measure and verify the effectiveness of the building system. The idea of energy business intelligence won’t transform our industry on day one, but its impact will be unquestioned.

So what is energy business intelligence? Well it is a Web Portal with Data Warehouses, Online Analytical Processing and SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) Web Services that overlays applications like “Key Performance Indicators” (KPI), WhatIf Decision Support System, Geographical Information System and Business Processes onto building systems to create an Enterprise Resource Planning and Financial Management tool for Energy as well as a real time management and energy policy enforcement tool for the building owner. The first tool of this type is called Global Energy Management for Sustainability (GEMS). The GEMS Web Portal allows owners to manage campus sustainability in real time. Converting terabytes of energy and building information is a major challenge and this tool is designed to change data into knowledge. For example, at the University of New Mexico this GEMS Web Portal publishes energy data and carbon footprint in real-time. Managers establish Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to assess effectiveness of facility operations campus wide or on a building by building basis. Operators use the Microsoft Virtual Earth tool to zoom in from space to the campus. Once a three dimensional campus map comes into view, the user can chose to select KPI icons, time periods and a host of other metrics. For example if an indicator like “energy cost per square foot” or “carbon footprint” is selected, campus buildings change color based on performance against a predetermined metric. A building in red needs attention because it is consuming too much, while those in green are in the zone. GEMS users can drill down into the automation system to troubleshoot problems, but the preferred approach will be for this to happen automatically. It will be possible for systems to be integrated and programmed to execute self-learning applications and optimize energy performance to achieve new levels of sustainability.

Smart Grids Start With Smart Ideas

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

As we get more smart grid programs throughout the US and UK there is already a long line forming of product and service providers clamoring for their piece of this new green energy market. But the developments so far are disappointing for this reason. Active members of our industry – you and I – have a unique understanding of the nature of the major loads served by these electric grids – buildings. But so far, I see very little appreciation or desire for effectively employing that special understanding into smart grid concepts that are likely to really work.

One of the big challenges in smart grid development is the effect the shift to renewable energy will have on electric grids. As renewable sources of electric power such as wind or solar begin to climb in percent of total power into the grid, the predictability of the overall power applied into grids will fall. Wind speed and solar isolation are hard to predict hours ahead, and even if we learn to do so, it will still leave us with those natural variances that will be difficult to manage.

This is a great challenge, but it is one that many of us who have worked in building energy system design and operations have special insight to resolve. And our solutions are likely to be much more economical and effective than what I am hearing being proposed. Instead of starting by installing specialized energy storage devices throughout the grid, would be developers of smart grids should look to the buildings themselves as the primary dynamic that can keep available power and loads balanced. As we enter this era of increased variability and reduced predictability of power sources, buildings themselves when properly configured and controlled can provide the needed balancing flexibility. From my perspective, there are two critical elements of the building energy system that can be exploited for smart grid applications without the need for any new systems. And there is a big additional benefit to starting here to develop truly smart grids:

1. Off-hour Standby Operation: It has been shown over a number of tests, that in many modern commercial buildings, less energy is used if the building is switched into a “standby” mode when unoccupied instead of shut down entirely and then restarted before the start of next occupancy. As building envelopes become more efficient, this will soon be true for nearly all buildings, both commercial and residential. In such operating schemes, energy use is very flexible, especially during standby hours and load characteristics can easily be changed to suit the variability requirements of the electric grid.
2. Building Thermal Inertia: Years ago a study to find what could be done to solve a developing electric peaking capacity shortfall in the business district of a major US city. We determined that by adding networked HVAC and Lighting control capabilities to major buildings in that area we could reduce total peak electric demand at any time by at least 30% for short periods of time without any noticeable effect on the building occupants. The thermal inertia property of buildings is quite well known among many in our industry. It was a key component of control strategies my firm and others used for many years in the early days of digital controls. This field needs to be reopened since it provides a far more economical and useful approach to managing the modern electric supply/demand equation than many of the other energy storage systems being considered.

But there is another enormous benefit achieved by focusing first on buildings as a means to balance electrical demand with available power. That is the substantial reduction in overall energy use that can accompany such a focus. It has been shown very clearly in many applications that the same smart building controls capable of off-hour standby modes and “whole building” demand control can also greatly reduce overall building energy use during the rest of the building operations hours. Many of us in the building industry know that capturing this energy could have a dramatic added effect in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are at the core of the motivation toward smart grids. We know why many of the programs aimed at capturing those savings to date have performed so poorly and we could be part of the solution to correcting such failures in the future.

There are many reasons the building industry is largely bypassed in conversations about developing smart electric grids. But already having a plethora of smart ideas does not seem to me to be one of them. It’s time for all of us to speak up and be heard. Developing smart electric grids requires smart ideas and our industry can be a valuable contributor in developing them!

David Slade – LECTURES / PRESENTATIONS / PUBLICATIONS

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I have worked on Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) technical groups on Intelligent building solutions.  Undertaking evaluations and consulting research on various products, services, solutions and standards to support of procurement, development, troubleshoot and performance-tune these applications, and how to specify and successfully get installers to comply with these requirements at minimum of effort by the contractor / installer to comply with the end user requirements.

David has in the past assisted & supporting technical submissions to ACE, BRISA, BOC, CABA, CIBSE & RIBA. In 2006, in conjunction with Paul Mason developed the BRISA, consulting engineers design / production duties detail key stage publication.

PUBLICATIONS

2007  –  Teaching homes to be green: Smart homes and the environment – Green Alliance

The Green Alliance approached David to help them with their new best practice guidelines, with Gordon Brown’s latest prioritisation on green living, David’s advise was in a select group of quite a few rather impressive co authorities, including:  The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The DTI, The Environment Agency, The Energy Savings Trust, Defra, CLG, The BRE to say nothing of The Prime Minister’s Office itself.

Channel 4 – Grand Designs 2008

David was appointed to assist in the design a special housing project, on Channel 4 – Kevin McLeod’s “Grand Designs”, which was broadcast in April 2008.

LECTURES / PRESENTATIONS

Promotion of Automated commercial buildings:

For the US and Canadian markets, I’m known as an evangelist on promoting BI benefits worldwide and is regularly requested to give talks, presentations, workshops and seminars overseas on the subject to both to national / federal governments organisations, trade association groups and at International conferences about advance building services and IIT solutions, including BOMA, CABA, IET, Infocom & Realcom at various international venues.

Attended CABA Intelligent Buildings Town Hall – Realcomm07, held at Hynes Convention Centre – Boston USA relating to a special Intelligent Buildings Task Force to share and discuss some of the key objectives for the industry

CABA Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forum – InfoComm07.

I was asked by CABA to give a speech and a workshop at the Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forum, relating to IIT solutions and the opportunities, training, risks and rewards within this industry, held at Hilton, Anaheim, USA, in conjunction with InfoComm Conference & Exhibition. CABA’s feedback was very positive. CABA reported that “David received the loudest applause of any of the speakers”, relating to Davmark’s IIT solution held at Hilton Anaheim USA – Infocomm07.

InfoComm is the world’s largest tradeshow in the professional audiovisual industry held in the USA. Nearly 28,000 attendees attended.

David Slade – about me

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Resume:

I commenced work as an apprentice electrician, and have gone on over the last 25 years to hold senior design and management positions working within multinational and SME companies, within Building Services built environment, with a wide range of knowledge, expertise and experience, in tacking major capital projects with confidence. I have worked on a vast range of design solutions for different industries and uses.

To be one of the best you need to understand the project communications,  design responsibilities and client confidentiality, when working with clients on internationally-known projects, with curious media interests looking for a story.

Unusually for a engineer trained person. I’ve also had has experience for client’s offering  business development, taking manufacturing products and other professional services to market.

That’s without the cause related charity work.

Known as the ‘Third sector’ – That another different world again.

This is a major clash of mind sets, as they don’t normally fully understand each other.

For the engineer:

Works with facts, engineering physics, rules & regulations, building codes and regulations, use standards to determine what to select and use. Prove with calculations, and designed so that it can be constructed by others.

Computer: Intel computer with Microsoft software: Word, excel, Autocad and other specialist software being used.

Output: drawings, reports, specifications……..For a tender issue – Box or CD full of paper work (A4, A3, A0) bound / loose for copying by others.

Advertising:

For advertising it’s generally about branding and a single message to market, using as little amount of words and images, as possible to communicate this to the intended customer.

Designer: Images, phase, image, look and feel.

Computer:  Apple G5 – (What other computer’s could my client be using then? Intel whats that?)

Output: Dependent on output media: One image, tag line or a poster.

The effort is getting to this delivery point.

Marketing is different it’s about planning and ‘the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’. This definition covers just about every aspect of business, from what you pay for your raw materials, right through to how you make, price, distribute, advertise and sell the ‘look and feel’ of the product / service.

Designers and publishers:  Apple G5

Management: G5 / Intel computers

I’m also internationally known for my developed in Integrated Information Technology (IIT) design approach solutions.

I’m regularly requested to present these ideas at various seminar / leadership forums and workshops internationally, including CABA Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forums, relating to leading edge IIT solutions and business opportunities, risks and rewards. Introduced and defined “Lifetime Freedom Homes” to the industry.

Welcome to my world

David