Archive for the ‘Intelligent building’ Category

Smart homes: Intelligent heating controls

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Intelligent heating controls (which can also control cooling, such as air conditioning) can be seen as a step beyond smart meters. Smart meters make people aware of their energy use, while intelligent heating controls allow residents to refine their energy use to heat and cool their home in the most efficient way possible.

Intelligent heating controls have two key areas of environmental benefit:

  1. improved control:
  • set time and area preferences, e.g. keeping bedrooms cooler than the rest of the house
  • control heating remotely and automatically turn it off when a house is empty

2. improved efficiency:

  • adjust when the heating switches on throughout the year and respond to outside temperature changes on a daily basis
  • detect occupancy levels to turn heat off in unoccupied areas
  • monitor temperature with a sensor in every room, not just one for the whole house
  • enable more efficient boiler operation

Enabling households to interact more closely with their heating controls, particularly when combined with information from smart meters, will help to raise awareness of energy use and prompt reductions, although this will rely on residents being motivated to engage with the system. But intelligent controls can also deliver energy savings independently of resident involvement by improving the efficiency of theway that heating systems operate. Further benefits will be the ability to integrate and optimise the efficiencies of low carbon systems like solar hot water heating.

Firm evidence on the expected energy savings is hard to obtain. Much of the industry does not have any evidence, as energy efficiency is not yet a selling point for their customers. Control systems in commercial buildings have delivered up to 30 per cent savings, but this is not expected in a domestic setting where systems are smaller and individuals have far greater control over the settings. Research is currently underway to clarify what the expected savings are likely to be. Once this is clearer, controls have the potential to become a serious option for improving a home’s energy efficiency, especially in existing homes where easier energy efficiency options may not be feasible or in homes where the easier options have already been implemented. They can be retrofitted with minimal disruption and will also become more attractive as people become familiar with other intelligent applications, like smart meters.

Energy Transformation Technologies

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The energy utilities industry is very conservative. The combination of long asset life and the absolute priority on safety and reliability has meant that many of the technologies have not changed radically since the 1950s.

Now that is changing. Faced with the rapid shift in energy-consumption patterns, the move to green energy solutions and the evolution of communications technologies, utilities are reassessing their energy delivery strategies.

This article explores the pressures that this industry is facing. It takes a look at how two of the big technology changes — smart grids and smart metering — mandate the need for a cohesive communications strategy.

The Industry Pressures

There are four fundamental pressures on today’s utilities:

  • The changing pattern of electricity consumption, driven by the extensive proliferation of air conditioning resulting in the peak period of electricity consumption moving to the heat of summer.
  • The move toward green energy solutions, epitomized by the European Commission, which requires (among other things) 20% renewable energies in overall EU energy consumption by 2020.1 This is not uniquely European: politicians everywhere are pressuring utilities to accommodate environmental change.
  • Consumers and regulators alike are demanding highly reliable energy delivery, vital in maintaining an efficient national economy.
  • Financial stakeholders require better operational efficiency. Large-scale investment in new energy infrastructure is to be avoided where feasible. Given that the basic electricity infrastructure lacks the flexibility to track swiftly changing market pressures, utilities are examining two complementary approaches to increasing the efficiency of their networks:
  • Intelligent networks
  • Smart metering

Intelligent Networks

Intelligent networks (a term covering smart grids, substation automation and distribution automation) aim to improve the utilization of the network assets by monitoring and controlling them far more closely than previously possible. For example:

  • Make the energy-carrying capacity of a network dynamic by measuring in real time climatic conditions such as instantaneous temperature or the cooling effect of the wind, thus enabling better network utilization.
  • Today’s distribution networks have little real-time measurement or control. Intelligent technologies will provide a far more accurate picture of demand, energy flows and network incidents, yielding a major improvement in energy reliability and asset utilization.
  • The modern techniques of “condition monitoring” — monitoring the network assets for telltale signs of performance degradation — allow a very accurate forecast of equipment failures to be built. This means that assets can be replaced on a just-in-time basis, delivering significant investment savings and increased energy reliability. The benefits of intelligent energy networks are huge. They extend the lifetime of the assets, optimize power flows, increase energy reliability and enable investment to be focused where it is most needed.

Smart Metering

Smart metering is primarily intended to make consumers more conscious of energy consumption, thus leading to reduced consumption during peak periods and an overall reduction in the production of greenhouse gases.

Informing the user is merely the first step: facilitating the desired action by consumers requires two other capabilities:

  • The use of tariffs to encourage energy consciousness (whereby high instantaneous demand during periods of peak demand is charged a premium price)
  • Direct control of major household appliances

Smart metering brings its own set of challenges. This is a new application using new technologies — the smart meters, the communications network to access millions of devices and the platform to manage them.

Communications as the Key Enabler

As stated above, the technologies used in the energy networks have not changed radically since the 1950s. Thus, communications networks have, in general, been built up over several decades using ad hoc, application-specific technologies, with little network sharing and, in many cases, with little management or control.

To deliver the benefits of intelligent networks and smart metering, a homogeneous, reliable, flexible communications infrastructure is essential. Today, it is feasible to create a single cohesive network that will support:

  • Latency-critical applications such as teleprotection
  • Existing modem-based SCADA applications
  • Intelligent network and smart metering applications using modern communications protocols
  • IEC61850 Ethernet-based services for future automation applications
  • Other future applications, such as closed-circuit TV (CCTV) for physical security, which will expect the latest communications protocols to be supported This results in a typical infrastructure as shown in Figure 1.


In this architecture, the multi-service optical transport layer ensures the support of both mission-critical operations such as teleprotection services, with their very tight technical requirements, and existing applications using traditional TDM-based protocols. Simultaneously, it efficiently transports packet-based data for new services and applications on the same infrastructure.

The IP/MPLS layer supports new packet-based applications traffic, including substation automation, smart metering and security services with a virtualized network using Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPNs. Corporate voice, video and data applications can also be supported, with traffic management features ensuring that mission-critical operational traffic is given priority.

This network architecture delivers high reliability with secure support of mission-critical operations traffic. The associated end-to-end management capability makes this network easy to manage, allowing utilities to lower the skill barrier for staff.

It has allowed existing applications to be migrated and supported without disruption and has enabled systems operators to realize the consequent efficiency and reliability improvements.

For those starting down the road to energy network transformation, experience suggests a number of steps:

  • By starting with the high-voltage substations, a modernized multi-service TDM and Ethernet transport footprint can be established that will support all utility services.
  • Substation transformation to Ethernet services will be driven by asset life cycle management or new plant construction. New Intelligent Electrical Devices will simply plug in to the transport footprint established earlier.
  • Distribution automation and smart metering should be considered as complementary activities (where the regulatory regime permits). In this way, an access network can be built that supports both these applications in a single, cohesive network. This requires that the complete future access requirements are considered at the outset of the project, otherwise utilities risk perpetuating application-specific, vertically integrated networks, thereby aggravating communications inefficiency.

Conclusion

Energy utilities are on the cusp of the first real technology change in network and metering technologies since the 1950s. This change is predicated on the requirement for a robust, reliable and flexible communications network that will support existing mission-critical applications as well as the evolution to modern smart grid and smart metering technologies.



The Future: Smart networking, LonWorks, the IP network, and open source computing are going to drive a different world

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Lunch7

At Apple co-founder Mike Markulla’s Venetian Hotel-styled private theater in this posh Palo Alto suburb, the chairman of Sun Microsystems, makers of Java, and CEO of Duke Energy, makers of 36,000 megawatts of electricity in coal and nuclear plants, shared the stage.

The CEOs found common ground pushing a vision of the future where light switches are superfluous and any device that uses power is networked, easily automated, and far more energy efficient. Holding up a standard Sun identification card, Sun Chairman of the Board Scott McNealy noted that it was faster than an Apple II computer.

“We can connect anything that is more than a dollar in value,” he said.

But McNealy’s declaration that he was “over” the network was the real highlight of the hour-long event to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Markulla’s post-Apple endeavor, Echelon, which makes sensors and controls for all types of devices.

“I want my stuff to be on the network”   said McNealy.

Coming from the CEO of a company that once had the tagline, “The network is the computer,” the comment drew laughs from the small crowd. McNealy admitted that his statement probably was “not the best marketing thing.”

Crowd

Beyond his glib distaste for social networking, McNealy and Jim Rogers, Duke Energy’s CEO, presented a serious case that the future of networking lies with your toaster, lights and curtains. By turning “dumb” devices into nodes on a smart network, the businessmen said that the entire economy could be restructured to use energy more efficiently.

“I believe the most energy efficient economy is going to be the one that provides the greatest standard of living for its people,” Rogers said.

Rogers also noted that utilities would have to redefine their businesses away from commodity power and start making money by helping their customers control, not just use, their electricity.

“I see embedded in every customer six to eight networks and on each network there’s three to five applications,” he said. “What if I create value by optimizing those networks and those applications?”

That’s a major change in thinking for utilities that previously considered their job finished when the electricity hit your meter.

Though they painted grand visions of what the future could hold, both executives said there were many challenges to be met in creating the network of things.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” McNealy said. “There’s a lot of work to take the complexity out of client devices and to take the cost out of client devices.”

Jimrogers

Cost and complexity have slowed the adoption of home automation systems, but all three companies clearly see an opportunity to capitalize on the high cost of energy and increasing concern over carbon emissions.

McNealy even dropped Echelon’s protocol LonWorks into his solution for the future.

LonWorks, the IP network, and open source computing are going to drive a different world where per capita energy usage can plummet as green becomes the new black”, he said “And I mean black in terms of making money.”

Rogers’ vision was equally amibitious and showed that the North Carolina-based CEO knew his big-thinking Silicon Valley audience.

“At the end of the day, what I’m gonna provide is universal access to energy efficiency the way we provided universal access to electricity in the last century.”

Images: Jim Merithew. Top: Scott McNealy speaks to the crowd. Middle: The crowd is bathed in green LED light during a demo of the room’s fancy lighting system. Bottom: Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers lays out his plan for the future of a smarter electrical grid.

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.

Europe’s first ‘intelligent city’

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

AMSTERDAM GETS SMART WITH ACCENTURE

Accenture has been chosen by Amsterdam to run a scheme designed to create Europe’s first ‘intelligent city’.

The aim of the Amsterdam Smart City programme is to introduce sustainable and economically viable projects that will help Amsterdam reduce its carbon footprint and meet the European Union’s 2020 emissions and energy reduction targets. Among the projects to reduce energy consumption are a smart electric grid, smart meters and in-home feedback displays, smart building technologies and electric vehicles.

Accenture will work on the programme in partnership with the Amsterdam Innovation Motor, a city-affiliated agency that will build public and private sector co-operation to support Amsterdam Smart City.

Accenture’s European leader for smart grids, Maikel van Verseveld, commented: “Because cities are the world’s major source of carbon emissions, they must play a leadership role in energy management and electricity consumption by uniting the private and public sectors. Accenture’s role is to facilitate this integration and build and manage the intelligent infrastructure that will transform the urban environment.”

Joke van Antwerpen, director of the Amsterdam Innovation Motor, said: “We chose Accenture for its innovative thinking in helping city authorities and utilities come together in responding to climate change challenges, as well as its expertise in smart grid and smart metering technologies.”

Lonworks – Control Network for Building Automation

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

 An introduction to Lonworks

Lonworks networks really describe a complete solution to the problem of control systems. Like the computer industry, the control industry was, and in many cases is, creating centralized control solutions based on point-to-point wiring and hierarchical logic systems. This meant that you had a “master” controller, like a computer or programmable logic controller, physically wired to individual control, monitoring and sensing points, or “slaves.” The net result worked, but was expensive and difficult to maintain, expand, and service. It was also very expensive to install.

Lonworks networks started out with some very simple notions – control systems are fundamentally the same regardless of application; a networked control system is significantly more powerful, flexible, and scaleable than a non-networked control system; and businesses can save and make more money building control networks over the long term than they can with non-networked control systems.

Where and how is Lonworks used?
Lonworks networks can be found in all key building automation sub-systems including heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, lighting, boilers, air handlers, security, elevators, fire detection, access control, energy monitoring, irrigation control, and window blinds. In factories, Lonworks technology can be found performing a multitude of industrial tasks — from running wastewater treatment plants to checking paint colors to monitoring the arrival of parts at assembly stations. Lonworks is supported by Echelon.

Background

LonMark is a proprietary protocol developed by the Echelon Corporation in conjunction with Motorola in the early 1990s. The LonMark standard is based on the proprietary communications protocol called LonTalk. The LonTalk protocol establishes a set of rules to manage communications within a network of cooperating devices. To simplify implementation of the protocol, Echelon chose to work with Motorola to develop a specialized communications microprocessor called the Neuron. Through the use of this chip and its supporting software, the protocol establishes how information is exchanged between devices. Because much of the communications protocol is contained on the chip, system designers and installers can focus on other aspects of the system.

While LonTalk addresses the issue of how devices communicate, it does not consider the content of the communication. A second protocol, known as LonWorks, defines the content and structure of the information that is exchanged. LonWorks is a distributed control system that operates on a peer-to-peer basis, meaning any device can communicate with any other device on the network or use a master-slave configuration to communicate between intelligent devices. The LonWorks platform supports a wide range of communications media.

LonWorks-compatible devices communicate with each other through what is known as a Standard Network Variable Type or SNVT. While a SNVT defines a device just as an object does for BACnet, its approach is somewhat different. For a SNVT to function, both the sending and the receiving devices must have detailed knowledge of what the SNVT structure is. Therefore each SNVT is identified by a code number that allows the receiving device to properly interpret the transmitting data.

Initially, LonWorks did not define what a particular SNVT code meant. This resulted in confusion between vendors who used the same code to mean different things. To eliminate the confusion and to standardize SNVT codes, the LonMark Interoperability Association was formed in 1994. Made up of hundreds of manufacturers and integrators, one of its primary goals was to lay out standard methods for implementing the LonWorks technology.

To ensure that any device installed in a LonMark system will work properly with other devices, LonMark requires that in order to carry the LonMark logo, products must have been verified to conform to the LonMark protocol. LonMark uses a Web-based tool to reduce the time and cost for certifying devices.

One of the more recent innovations made by LonMark is the network profile. The idea behind the network profile is that no matter who makes a particular device used in a building system, such as a variable speed drive, all like devices will perform a similar function. To ease and speed system installation, LonMark then defines how a particular device should function on the network, from the points included to how they are named. This predefined network profile is the minimum profile for any connected devices. Manufacturers can add additional items to the predefined profile based on their particular product, giving them flexibility while maintaining simplicity and interoperability.

LonWorks has been accepted and adopted by the international standards organizations (ANSI/CEA 709.1 and IEEE 1473-L).

The Convergence of Building Controls, IT (IIT)

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Varying perspectives of usefulness of increasingly common practices

For more than a decade, many in the buildings industry have been envisioning a day when building-automation systems (BAS) would become fully integrated with communication and human-interface practices and standards widely employed for information-technology (IT) networks. With the number of those individuals growing and their dream coming closer to reality, five-question survey with the intent of gathering the varying perspectives of a control-system designer, a controls manufacturer, a controls integrator, and an advanced controls user on practices becoming increasingly common in development BAS.

The Survey Participants

THE DESIGNER
A senior partner of New York-based Lehr Consultants International and a member of HPAC Engineering‘s Editorial Advisory Board, Valentine A. Lehr, PE, FASHRAE, is noted for innovation in high-rise construction, hotel design, and master planning of complex projects. He has led design efforts for numerous award-winning environmental projects.

THE MANUFACTURER
The vice president of sales and marketing for Reliable Controls Corp., the Victoria, British Columbia-based designer and manufacturer of Internet-connected building controls and green building-automation controls, Tom Zaban, P.Eng., has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo and a family-business background in electronics manufacturing.

THE INTEGRATOR
As the vice president of sales and marketing for Delta Controls Inc., the Surrey, British Columbia-based developer and manufacturer of building-automation systems, Brian Dutt is responsible for the company’s product-strategy, marketing-services, and global-sales teams. He has an MBA from Simon Fraser University and a diploma of technology in electronic engineering.

THE ADVANCED USER
H. Michael Newman manages the energy-management-and-control system at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The system extends to some 150 major buildings, includes equipment and communication protocols from more than 10 suppliers, and incorporates several thousand field devices and hundreds of thousands of sensors, actuators, and data points.

Following are the questions and the responses they elicited.

1. In this age of universal graphical user interfaces (GUI), is there any reason to continue using a BAS manufacturer’s graphics instead of Web-browser-type operator interfaces?

“In general, no,” the survey’s designer participant, Valentine A. Lehr, PE, FASHRAE, a senior partner of New York-based Lehr Consultants International and a member of HPAC Engineering‘s Editorial Advisory Board, said.“There is no reason for the manufacturer’s graphics.”

The survey’s advanced-user participant, H. Michael Newman, manager of the Utilities Computer Section at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., agreed: “If by ‘manufacturer’s graphics’ you mean a client GUI application used for the run-time operation of a BAS that must be installed and maintained on every potential workstation, as opposed to an application used for BAS setup, configuration, or commissioning, then the answer clearly is no. The software tools available to GUI designers for BAS, such as JavaScript and other scripting languages, supplement HTML (HyperText Markup Language) display technology to permit controls, such as buttons, scroll bars, sliders, and other user-input devices, to be displayed and actuated, thus, allowing operators to interact with the BAS through a Web browser with nearly the same look and feel of traditional client GUI.”

One should not be so quick to dismiss the value of manufacturers’ graphics, the survey’s manufacturer participant, Tom Zaban, P.Eng., vice president of sales and marketing for Reliable Controls Corp., said.

“Just because browser-based technology is ubiquitous does not mean that content (i.e., graphics) no longer is needed …, Zaban said. “The more people go online, the higher their expectation for quality information becomes.”

As the survey’s controls-integrator participant, Brian Dutt, vice president of sales and marketing for Delta Controls Inc., explained: “Manufacturers often create higher-quality interfaces for use with their products. It is quite simple for a manufacturer to create additional properties and functionality within their controllers that go beyond those defined by open standards. This added functionality … is available to the end user only when utilizing the manufacturer’s software interface.”

One could argue, Zaban said, that: “Theoretically, there are enough image assets on the Web to make any manufacturer’s library redundant …, and maybe in time that could become true, but good luck. Try putting that into practice today. You would have to cope with the lack of images and the inconsistency in colour, texture, camera angle, and resolution — all necessary to deliver a professional-looking end product. I would expect for the time you would spend piecing together a functional public-domain library you could hire a team of pimply faced kids to make a new library from scratch and do it cheaper with a better result. Then, you will need the animations. Forget it — game over.

“There is an intimate tie-in to each manufacturer’s product and the behavior of any animation of modest complexity,” Zaban continued. “The frames of the animation are ‘coded’ to behave according to the bits set within the object, which, in turn, are based on values/states measured and/or calculated by the controller or derived by direct operator input. There is no consistent standard in the industry describing that relationship that I am aware of. … The nature of animations is just too creative to nail down to a standard that would cover a wide variety of cases.”

Summary. There seems to be agreement among the survey participants that the industry is moving toward browser-based graphics. Because such graphics require special objects and support features developed by direct digital control (DDC) system manufacturers, the creation of generic graphics is seen as expensive.

2. Is there a good reason not to consider using multiple vendors’ products in a single system?

“There are several reasons to avoid mixing and matching, although the technical barriers essentially have been eliminated in recent years through the development and widespread adoption of standard networking protocols …,” advanced user Newman, who chaired the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ BACnet committee from 1987 to 2000, said. “The most significant impediment would be the need to become proficient with the configuration, programming, commissioning, operation, and maintenance of equipment from different manufacturers. This involves training, documentation, the need to have spare parts for each system, and so on.”

That does more than increase cost, controls integrator Dutt said.

“Developing intimate knowledge of a single manufacturer’s product is spread across multiple individuals within a value-added reseller’s (VAR’s) technical team,” Dutt said. “If the VAR chooses to support multiple manufacturers, it typically will develop knowledge specialists for each product family. This increases the risk to the organization should the specialist choose to leave the organization. It also causes risk to the service and support of the project longer term.”

Varying perspectives of usefulness of increasingly common practices

In the absence of operation-and-maintenance personnel with the requisite level of knowledge and skill, “You would need to be sure that you have the necessary support from the different suppliers to avoid finger-pointing in the event the systems don’t cooperate as expected and required,” Newman said.

Summary. Despite improved capabilities for developing multivendor networks, the survey participants urge caution.

3. Is it practical to remove GUI development from a controls contract and employ someone who specializes in developing GUI using standard server-based tools?

“Yes, that is the preferred approach …,” designer Lehr said. “We are using it on larger projects.”

Controls integrator Dutt sees it as practical only in situations in which an owner is seeking competitive bids.

“If the owner is happy with the current solution they have, then it is better to leave the interface and controls to be supplied from a single vendor,” Dutt said. “In my experience, most building managers are looking to work with controls contractors they can trust to do a good job.”

Manufacturer Zaban said he can think of only one case in which it would be practical: “A university has multiple vendors supplying various automation systems to its campus. The contracts call for basic graphics to be created and commissioned. Then, after the job is done, the university retains a different company that re-uses the graphic annotations of the base contract, but slides in a completely new graphic and gussies things up using the tools of that specific vendor so that the final graphics are very consistent with all of the previously completed buildings on campus. The university gets the value it wanted in the graphic (a relatively intuitive collection of dynamic data on one screen), but tosses out the base image because it is not worth the money and time fighting the original contractor because they used the wrong shade of gray.”

The tools used to create the content of interactive Web-accessible displays are almost entirely manufacturer-specific, advanced user Newman said.

“Some suppliers use commonly available software, such as Microsoft Visio, (Lonworks) to develop their system graphics, while others use entirely proprietary applications,” Newman said. “Even if the format of the graphic is ‘standard,’ the display of real-time data, archival trend data, or other database information requires manufacturer-specific ‘callback’ routines to collect the data and present it to the server. If, as is common, the graphic is stored in a proprietary format, it is the job of the manufacturer’s server to interpret the graphic file, render it into Web-displayable form, and ship it to the browser. All of this is not to say that there are not contractors who are competent with vendor XYZ’s GUI-development tools. If your server is from XYZ, you certainly do have the option of hiring a third-party contractor to develop or extend the GUI.”

Summary. The survey participants have mixed opinions as to whether it is preferable to have the manufacturer supplying the controls for a project also provide the graphics because proprietary display-development tools will have to be employed no matter how a graphical interface is procured. The opinion appears to be that there is rough equivalency among the capabilities of various manufacturers’ graphics software.

4. How far down into control-system architecture should designers push to replace specialized HVAC control components with more-standard general-purpose IT products?

“There is some argument to say the marketplace should determine this issue,” designer Lehr said. “However, in response to the question, if pushed, it should be down to the router (Ethernet) level.”

Because of current building practices, replacing specialized HVAC components with more-standard general-purpose IT products is practical only to the building-controller level, controls integrator Dutt said.

“Most application controllers are required to be commissioned before the end of a project,” Dutt explained. “This makes it difficult to cost-effectively deploy IT-based controls at the application level. If the owner of the project is a stakeholder in the IT-based solution, then it is possible, but it will take a significant amount of effort to ensure the design survives the construction phase. Currently, it is cost-effective to deploy IT networks to the building-controller level, as this network typically can be installed during construction and can be used during system commissioning.”

Manufacturer Zaban believes: “We’re already ‘all the way down’ from an architecture perspective. … Most designers just don’t know it yet.

“Now that we have a decent standard open protocol — ‘decent’ meaning well-defined, popular, and, most importantly, extensible — we can go ahead and write BIM (building information modelling) algorithms that would fully specify all aspects of building controls,” Zaban explained. “That means controller profile, network, sequence, interoperability, database, alarm, commissioning, wiring, documentation, service information, and even part numbers.”

A BIM BAS model is a “pet project” Zaban said he has been “threatening to do … just to shake up the industry a bit. …

Varying perspectives of usefulness of increasingly common practices

“It would represent the Holy Grail of DDC implementation …,” Zaban said. “It also would put a lot of frustrated consultants out of their misery because it would minimize their exposure to the technology. … The means already is there; you don’t need to ‘push’ any further. … We have general programmable controllers that can be applied to highly specialized applications, and the protocol provides deep integration into IT models.”

Summary. It appears there are no restrictions as to where a BAS network can be connected to a larger building or campus IT network. Indeed, on some projects, a stand-alone BAS network is connected to an IT network for local- and remote-operator oversight, while on others, components down to terminal-unit controllers are connected directly to a standard IT network. How a BAS network is configured in association with an IT network largely is determined by physical access, bandwidth, and network integrity/responsibility.

5. Should designers promote Web-enabled access for multiple buildings?

“Yes, this is an excellent approach …,” designer Lehr said. “The only limitation is reluctance to add cost.”

In the building-management industry, an increasing number of people are being asked to do more with less, manufacturer Zaban said.

“For example, one health-care manager I know who is doing a great job at tracking his facilities’ energy performance is facing a significant expansion of the hospital, but there is no budget to hire additional resources to keep up with the additional paperwork,” Zaban said. “Another property manager I know who is responsible for several large properties in downtown Vancouver is happy his company is growing. But they just acquired a new significant property downtown, and he does not have additional staff to delegate fuel purchases, energy tracking, and comfort-tracking reports to.”

The bottom line, Zaban continued, is that, “Property managers must become more efficient and organized to cope with their expanding workload, and we need to be there to help them.”

That may not necessarily be through a Web-accessible control system (WACS), controls integrator Dutt said.

“The designer should first understand the true needs of the building owner and then, based on his past experience, make a recommendation that will suit that particular situation,” Dutt said. “While most facilities can easily justify a WACS, there may be situations in which individual platforms and operators make business sense.”

Advanced user Newman sounded a word of caution regarding Web-enabled access for multiple buildings: “If the GUI servers are from different manufacturers, the operator will end up being in different operational environments for each system. That means the operator will have to learn different ways of performing the same function on each of the systems. The steps to access and change a temperature set point, for example, may be very different from one system to the next. Still, having to maintain only one operating system and browser at each operator site is a big advantage over the old days.”

Summary. The survey participants seem to agree that multiple-building access is a reasonable expectation, although it must serve a basic need and employ a common interface platform to be truly useful.

CONCLUSION

The responses of the four experts surveyed for this article indicate that the future of BAS lies in building-system components with on-board digital controls integrated into WACS with standard network connections. There are differences, however, about how open or selective the platforms used to integrate building-system components will be. Whatever developments occur, the buildings industry generally seems to have embraced standards employed in IT networks to the point multi-manufacturer digital control networks can be supported. What happens next, as one of the survey’s participants noted, is a matter for the market to determine.

The question of operator interfaces continues to vex many in the industry. That problem may be solved with building-system components with not only on-board controls, but on-board graphics, trends, and other features that can be integrated into standard Web front ends. If, however, data required for day-to-day operations need to be stored in servers, then, as another of the survey’s participants pointed out, the different operational features and environments could make such networks unmanageable.

In any case, the march toward standardization appears more robust than ever. Not long ago, building-automation graphical interfaces employed almost no Web-browser techniques and technologies; now, Web approaches are the basis of many such packages. How close we are to a complete convergence of BAS and IT is difficult to tell, but it is not too much of a stretch to say that when the convergence is complete, there may be nothing to distinguish one from the other.

Intelligent Building – Overview

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

The field of Intelligent Buildings, Intelligent Homes, Building Management Systems (BMS) encompasses an enormous variety of technologies, across commercial, industrial, institutional and domestic buildings, including energy management systems and building controls. The function of Building Management Systems is central to ‘Intelligent Buildings’ concepts; its purpose is to control, monitor and optimise building services, eg., lighting; heating; security, CCTV and alarm systems; access control; audio-visual and entertainment systems; ventilation, filtration and climate control, etc.; even time & attendance control and reporting (notably staff movement and availability). The potential within these concepts and the surrounding technology is vast, and our lives are changing from the effects of Intelligent Buildings developments on our living and working environments. The impact on facilities planning and facilities management is also potentially immense. Any facilities managers considering premises development or site relocation should also consider the opportunities presented by Intelligent Buildings technologies and concepts.

The essence of Building Management Systems and Intelligent Buildings is in the control technologies, which allow integration, automation, and optimisation of all the services and equipment that provide services and manages the environment of the building concerned.

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) formed the original basis of the control technologies. Later developments, in commercial and residential applications, were based on ‘distributed-intelligence microprocessors’. The use of these technologies allows the optimisation of various site and building services, often yielding significant cost reductions and large energy savings. There are numerous methods by which building services within buildings can be controlled, falling broadly into two method types:

Time based – providing heating or lighting services, etc., only when required, and Optimiser Parameter based – often utilising a representative aspect of the service, such as temperature for space heating or illuminance for lighting.

An Intelligent Building uses technology and process to create a building that is safer, more comfortable and productive for its occupants, and more operationally efficient for its owners. Advanced technology — combined with improved processes for design, construction and operations—provide a superior indoor environment that improves occupant comfort and productivity while reducing energy consumption and operations staffing.

While this may seem too good to be true, these benefits can be achieved and delivered today. Remarkably though, there are relatively few Intelligent Building projects.

Buyers are excited about the concept of an Intelligent Building and are looking to implement elements of this in upcoming projects. The trend toward sustainable buildings and the need to be more operationally efficient are both big drivers.

Buyers see many impediments to implementing these projects including challenges with proving value and finding qualified consultants, contractors and suppliers. The owner research section of the Intelligent Buildings Roadmap provides details and observations on trends in selected vertical markets.

Coupled with the research is an extensive analysis. One observation is that as an industry, we are on the edge of a chasm, with a series of barriers that must be removed if we are to proceed. Interestingly, these barriers are not technology or product related, but rather have to do with tools, process and industry education.

The barriers are described in detail, along with recommended tools and actions that we can take as individuals and an industry to remove them.

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.

British Gas launches integrated service to cut business energy consumption

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

 

British Gas has launched an energy management service aimed at its business customers that is believed to be unique in the market that will reduce their energy costs by at least 10 percent.

The service, Energy360, is being delivered through British Gas Business (BGB), which is marketing it as a new perspective on energy management and the first on the market to offer its customers a truly integrated energy service, from supply to solution and management.

Energy360 is aimed at businesses and has been designed to achieve three main objectives – cost savings, meeting legal and regulatory obligations, and delivering against corporate social responsibility requirements.

The service offers a range of solutions including smart metering, automatic monitoring and targeting (aM&T) of energy consumption data, the availability of building management systems, including energy efficient boilers, lighting and HVAC equipment  – through British Gas Business’s’ recent acquisition of Building Management System Integrators (BMSi) – and energy certificates.

“As the global energy crunch continues to bite, we are exploring new ways of helping customers reduce their energy consumption,” commented Badar Khan, Managing Director of British Gas Business. “Our new energy services include building control technologies, automated monitoring and targeting and smart metering which will help businesses track energy consumption and optimize the operation of energy intensive systems such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting.”

Clients of Energy360, through BMSi, include British airport company BAA and the high street pharmacy chain Boots.

‘Smart’ appliances empower users to save money

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

<em>Chris Hermann,<br /> Senior Vice President,<br /> Energy Delivery, LG&E</em>
Chris Hermann,
Senior Vice President,
Energy Delivery, LG&

Six months into Louisville Gas & Electric Company’s (LG&E) pilot program that uses smart meters, smart or demand response appliances, and a tiered-pricing program, results reveal participants are choosing money saving options.

The program tests the use of “smart” appliances to help offset energy costs when higher prices are implemented during peak usage times, generally from 3-8 p.m.

Pilot participants were a select group of GE employees living in the LG&E Louisville market. They were provided with a suite of GE smart appliances – or demand response appliances – to replace their standard appliances. In most cases, this included a refrigerator, range, microwave, dish washer and laundry pair. In addition, LG&E installed a programmable HVAC thermostat in the participants’ homes, as well as a smart utility meter.

The smart appliances receive a signal from the utility company’s smart meter which alerts the appliances, and the participants, when peak electrical usage and rates are in effect. In the pilot program, the signal word “eco” comes up on the display screen. The appliances are programmed to avoid energy usage during that time or to operate on a lower wattage; however, participants can choose to override the program.

“This pilot program gives us the opportunity to incorporate our customers’ feedback on how to manage the very critical issue of peak energy demand and supply,” said Chris Hermann, senior vice president, Energy Delivery at LG&E. “We believe we are learning a lot from this pilot about how to accomplish our objectives. This will result in managing our energy better and reducing the need to construct more power generation facilities – which is better for us, our customers and the environment.”

Some of the examples of savings are that the refrigerator delays the defrost cycle from occurring during peak hours and goes into energy saving mode, microwave ovens power down slightly by reducing wattage used when operated during peak hours, and the ”smart” dishwasher and laundry can delay starting the cycle to off peak times.

Notably interaction with the dishwasher and laundry appliances has been noted as the most challenging by the participants.

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.