Engineered Systems Magazine

Automation Sustainability

January 30, 2009

Let’s first view it as a noun. Reinvention of the building automation (BA) industry is necessary, not because we want to, but because we have to. The present financial times are rapidly redefining what is sustainable and what is not, and BA in its present form is not. BA is not achieving anywhere close to its potential. According to the USGBC, Cisco Systems, and The Hartman Company, typical HVAC systems are 50% efficient compared to fully integrated systems.

The functional creep of what is now included in the new BA definition of intelligent building solutions provides an-other real need for BA reinvention. Intelligent building solutions integrate all the common building functions: envi-ronmental control, intrusion detection, access control, lighting, and energy management with video.

The rapid metamorphosis to Web-enabled automation has greatly enhanced already powerful direct digital controls while allowing our buildings to become an interactive part of the smart electrical grid. Internet capabilities allow HVAC equipment connected to open BA standards to be viewed as a controllable load for GridWise and demand re-sponse thinking.



The Verb

For us to start building sustainability with automation, we must understand the opportunity in the smart grid and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

For the smart grid to be effective, it must include deep integration with energy consuming systems such as the con-trolled systems which are part of HVAC and lighting in buildings. The future of smart energy operations in smart power grids and smart buildings have much in common with the running and management of the eCommerce enter-prise. Each has similar needs for reliable, secure, and scalable infrastructure, and each requires embracing diversity to enable innovation. The power grid’s inability to negotiate and anticipate energy needs causes great inefficiencies in the generation and transmission of power.

The power of enterprise languages such as XML, coupled with a movement to open source software solutions, fuels our sustainable reinvention. Automation of everything is an evolving Web service.



Open Source for Automation Building

One of the open source base initiatives applying to (BA) and the smart grid is OpenLynx. OpenLynx is an open source pro-ject based on pervasive computing oX framework and defines ontologies, components and strategies for building automa-tion and energy management components and products.

Our new-found automation connectivity allows more to be achieved with less human and natural resources. In our present economical situation, we must use less while providing better services, sharing our successes via digital signs in the lobby and with building-centric websites.

One trend is to use the BA as a remote commissioning tool. This allows online Web services to be connected to continually optimize and commission energy use throughout an enterprise, while maintaining acceptable comfort levels. The benefits of building commissioning will become greater as the smart grid evolves.

Net-zero building designs depend heavily on the connected interaction of both BA and the grid to orchestrate renewable energy sources such as solar and wind with or without the electrical grid interaction.

Daylighting (substituting outside ambient light to replace internal electric light) requires a significant BA interaction with clients and ambient light sensors as well as motorized fenestration control.

Use of lighting controls may typically yield up to 30% energy savings for lighting, and that translates into approximately 10% overall energy savings for a building. In addition, lighting controls may serve as a key element of a demand reduc-tion program, further enabling energy savings.

Low-cost camera technology allows remote viewing of critical equipment. To optimize the true value of video systems, they need to integrate directly with existing systems such as HVAC, energy management, lighting, and security to create a new level of real-time visibility

Our buildings must be green, but present a financial blue bottom line of sustainable connected real estate. Our existing stock of large buildings in North America, which use more energy than they should, presents a huge opportunity for BA sustainability. GIB