Since the introduction of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in 2000, there are many success stories in energy savings for building construction and maintenance. Fortunately, advancements in technology push the envelope further with data integration and analytics of building systems that result in smart buildings.
Our first challenge is to define Smart Buildings. Unlike LEED, there is no standard definition that we can use to discuss the integration of technology to enable a smart building.
"CIOs should look up to MTP to ensure that the transition to smart building is effective and provides value to the building occupants and owners"
At Encore Electric, Inc. we define smart buildings as the integration of technology to enhance the comfort, safety, and performance goals of a particular building. The goal to achieve comfort, safety and performance changes depending on the type of building. For example, the needs of a hospital differ greatly from those of a data center or a high-end resort.
The next challenge is to understand the tidal wave of digital technology in the building systems market. Even under the new CSI specifications, different building systems (heating/cooling, security or lighting) can be isolated, stand-alone systems and the value of the information usually remains locked within each system. This island effect means that building owner and operator are not able to view the information from various building systems in aggregate. This creates a challenge to optimally maintain the building throughout its lifecycle.
The advent of Internet of Things (IoT) is unlocking the islands of building system information. Since the IoT systems are now designed to be digitally connected, they can share digital information. Additionally, the number of building systems continues to increase. So, to help solve the aggregation of building systems, one can use international data exchange protocol standards, cloud applications and dashboard applications to obtain more value from building management information.
One recent example is Intel, who announced a partnership with Daiken Applied. Daiken Applied manufactures technologically advanced commercial HVAC systems. In this partnership with Intel, Daiken and Intel built an IoT solution to improve energy management. Their goal is to unlock the value of information contained in HVAC systems and tie this information together using cloud technology to provide proactive management of the building’s comfort, safety and performance.
IoT building systems impact the CIO in significant ways. Network design and engineering becomes more complex as these systems often reside on the corporate network or there is a propagation of virtual networks to isolate building systems. There is also a substantial increase of new information generated from IoT building systems that has to be managed, filtered, aggregated and reviewed.
The IoT of building systems leads to another challenge–effective systems integration to enable smart buildings. Such integration raises significant challenges for CIOs, to enable a smart building such as:
• Cloud Integration–What are the practical challenges (latency, security, ownership) if building information is stored in different data centers by different vendors of building systems?
• Information Aggregation and Synthesis– Using big data techniques, how will we aggregate building information so that it can be synthesized for actionable events? For example, does that HVAC sensor alarm require a dispatch of a technician?
• Analytics–What are the tools, techniques and technology needed to provide effective dashboards and analytics for use by building engineers and facilities managers? How will we report on key performance indicators to building owners? How will we aggregate across multiple buildings or building campuses?
• Security–With information literally flying around the internet, potentially stored in disparate data centers, how can CIOs ensure they do not have a ‘Target moment’ (when an unchanged HVAC system password led to hackers compromising 40 million credit cards in Targets POS system)?
Fortunately, we have identified new role to help solve the challenge of building system integration. The Master Technology Partner (MTP) has an overlapping skill set suited to help CIOs solve challenges from IoT and Smart Buildings.
The MTP is the universal translator for the constructability and functionality of all systems between various groups of constituents. For example, the MTP needs to understand the needs of an owner when the building is designed and constructed and the needs of the occupants as the building is maintained. So, an effective MTP must have substantial experience in building lifecycles (engineering and facilities) along with the skills and knowledge of fundamental concepts of information technology to enable the integration to create a smart building.
For example, the MTP for Encore Electric led a team of experts to develop a one-of-a-kind patient control system for Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado. Craig is a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital that specializes in treating patients with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.
Patients at Craig often do not have the ability to perform simple tasks such as opening their blinds or turning off the lights in their hospital rooms. The in-room, integrated technology assists patients in regaining control and independence of their lives. Patients can control the temperature, lighting, nurse call, and entertainment using a breath-controlled device. This solution required both knowledge of building control systems, software design and integration. The result is empowering for the patients as they rehabilitate.
The MTP has multiple key roles–both in a new construction projects and in maintaining existing buildings. In a new construction project, the MTP will work with the design and construction teams to engineer and specify smart building technology components and points of integration. It is critical that a CIO’s team works with the MTP to provide a design that will meet the needs of facility users over the long-term. For example, the MTP works with the infrastructure and network engineers of the facility to ensure that networks are designed to address the challenges identified with IoT building systems.
For an existing facility, the MTP provides key input over the life cycle of the facility. 90 percent of the expense of a building occurs during its operation. Building systems need to be replaced and there is opportunity for new systems to enhance the comfort, safety and performance for the building occupants.
Due to the challenges identified in this article from IoT enabled building systems, the CIO should partner with the MTP early so that the design of information technology infrastructure is designed to consider the long-term use of the building. The MTP also has the responsibility of guiding the owner and design teams to stay ahead of the technology race so systems are not obsolete by the time they are commissioned.
LEED was an important milestone to define a framework to manage the energy of a building system. 20 years later, there are new challenges as IoT provides new opportunities to enhance the comfort, safety and performance of buildings world-wide. CIOs should look up to MTP to ensure that the transition to smart building is effective and provides value to the building occupants and owners.