June 26, 2006
Building Awareness of Intelligent Building Systems and Technologies
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! Frost & Sullivan's report on "Intelligent Building Systems & Technologies" introduces the concept of intelligent buildings (IB), provides an analysis of the current state of novel, emerging technologies in the building automation space and outlines products as well as trends that support this concept. In an interview with Ankit A. Shukla, Research Analyst, Automation & Electronics,Technical Insights (Global) AECWeekly learned about ways to build awareness of Intelligent Building Systems.

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Industry News

Building Awareness of Intelligent Building Systems and Technologies

Interview by Susan Smith

Frost & Sullivan's report on "Intelligent Building Systems & Technologies" introduces the concept of intelligent buildings (IB), provides an analysis of the current state of novel, emerging technologies in the building automation space and outlines products as well as trends that support this concept. The objective of this research service is to identify and analyze what lies behind this concept and what efforts are being made across companies and research groups to achieve it. It identifies the developments taking place on the technology front with the various aspects associated with building systems and analyzes their implications for IB. In an interview with Ankit A. Shukla,
Research Analyst, Automation & Electronics,Technical Insights (Global) AECWeekly learned about ways to build awareness of Intelligent Building Systems.

AECWeekly: What software vendors and/or users have requested an analysis from your organization?

AS: We are unable to release that information per corporate guidelines.

What do you see as the most promising ways of building awareness of Intelligent Buildings Systems?

AS: The IB concept has been around for some time now. But there are still a lot of unclear aspects involved. The financial and operational benefits of these solutions still remain unnoticed due to a lack of awareness. The end result has been that while great technical solutions are present, they are not, by and large, being demanded by the market. Building maintenance personnel, constructors, architects, and even owners have little clue about the advantages of an IB. There still looms the confusion as to what role the individual groups have to play so as to realize this concept. Additionally, poor education and novice technical expertise is one of the major reasons for poor building

There are a number of ways by which awareness can be created for Intelligent Building Systems. First, and foremost, changing the mindset of the groups involved is a vital step that needs to be taken. With a single integrated system comes the obvious fact that a single or few companies would largely address the issues related to the overall building system. For some selfish reason, owners find this aspect objectionable. They want competitive bids from a number of suppliers as having everything in a single integrated package could limit competition to extremely few bidders.

Building automation companies should take an initiative, as they are doing it now, to spread IB awareness by organizing seminars and conferences at higher levels in industry. Once the cost benefit analysis of IB is understood by upper management in a company, its effect will be seen at contractor levels as well. Thirdly, architects can play a vital role in this area. For a successful implementation of an IB, the building design should support the cause. Yet another area that is very poorly addressed is greater interaction between industry and educational institutions. This has to change as well.

Currently, there are more ethical challenges than technical challenges. Issues of technicality can only be solved by timely coordinated efforts. The solutions and the technology have been present for a long time--it's just that the industry has not appreciated it well, till now.

According to software vendors, one would think that there was a widespread adoption of Intelligent Building practice. Bentley claims that there is so much awareness of their building information modeling (BIM) technology that people want to know more ways of incorporating it now. Are there any software vendors who are achieving anything close to widespread adoption from their customers?

AS: There is not much that I can comment on strategies on software vendors.

What do you think of Autodesk's strategy to incorporate 3D tools into the AutoCAD 2007 release, in the hopes that those who are already on the subscription program and will buy the next release anyway will dabble with these 3D tools and, move toward BIM in the future?

AS: BIM could benefit from the incorporation of 3D tools into the AutoCAD versions. This is something that will help customers have a better insight into their assets. As BIM is involved at the design, construction and maintenance phases of a facility, 3D tools will give the software an unparallel edge over peer solutions. Thus, I think it might turn out to be a positive move.

You mentioned the biggest stumbling block to moving forward with IB is proprietary solutions. All the CAD vendors offer proprietary solutions - are you suggesting they are standing in the way of their own progress?

AS: By proprietary solutions, the research service was indicating to building automation protocols that are implemented at the system level which plague the advancement of IB. Presence of proprietary solutions makes interoperability, scalability and flexibility of building automation systems a very far fetched dream. As far as software solutions are concerned, I cannot comment much although, I would like to add that any sort of standardization in software solutions is something that is not required. Proprietary solutions from CAD vendors is a completely different issue.

Since there are more "integration" technologies being announced lately, do you see this is changing the marketplace for software solutions. If so, how long do you predict it will take to bring customers to a greater acceptance of IB?

With growing support for integration of technologies, software solutions that can ease the process of building operation systems have huge potential to make inroads in this field. Translating system information into a presentable form is something that is highly sought after. Be it at a design level or operation level, increasing software capabilities to communicate with the building automation world is driving the increasing acceptance level of IB.

Are you tracking wireless solutions as well?

AS: Yes. My current technology research on the topic "Advances in Wireless Protocols in Building Automation" is aimed to carrying out an in-depth analysis of this area which is one of the biggest trends we're seeing the building automation space.

Are you also tracking in-building wireless or sensor systems?

AS: Yes. "Advances in HVAC&R Systems," which is ready for publication, and the current report as mentioned above take care of in-building wireless or sensor system advancements.

Is the term "integrated building systems" one that we will hear a lot in the future? What does that term mean to you?

AS: Definitely, as we move towards a world where different groups in building industry are augmenting their efforts to bring together disparate systems on a common platform, integrated building systems will, and are, taking buildings on a migration path with greater involvements of IT and wireless sensors.

I see 'integrated building systems' as a deliverable promise in the future. There are a number of factors that support this notion. Apart from operational, maintenance benefits, integrated building systems have immense capabilities to solve issues like energy consumption, higher comfort levels for occupants, increased connectivity of buildings with the outer world, etc. Technologies applied in IB, which support integration of systems, will improve the building environment and functionality for occupants while reducing operational costs. Integration of building systems will lead to higher return on investment and return on
asset, as buildings will be valued higher with increased leasing possibilities. Implementing the IB concept will definitely lead to lowering of both cost and energy usage. With an effective energy management system, which in turn integrates various building systems, wastage of energy will be minimized by managing occupied space. Remote location information of a building will become easier and will lead to greater insight into assets.

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