At this point, you are questioning the author’s brilliance and can only assume that he is virtually crazed. Yes, I am virtually crazed, because I believe what I read from the authors of AutomatedBuildings.com and what they are writing about is the rapidly developing future of powerful Web services occurring in both applications and SaaS.
So have you got all that? It is the way you bank, book airline tickets, and hotels on the Web.
Our newest columnist at AutomatedBuildings.com, Toby Considine, systems specialist, Facility Services, with the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), writes about SOB.
“I thank Ken for this opportunity to write regularly here. My passion is Web services interfaces to the engineered world to let embedded systems be full participants in the enterprise. You might call it SOB - the service-oriented building as a full participant in the SOA of the service-oriented architecture of the enterprise.
Can building systems join the BIM revolution?
I have long wondered how we are going to bring building control systems into the wider world. Building inhabitants see building systems as invisible and uncontrollable, and so they pay them no mind. Money spent on building systems is an instant expense, to be minimized, rather than an investment to be optimized.
Capital assets are receiving new attention, driven by the fashion of green and the imperative of sustainability. Owners are demanding building information models (BIMs) rather than lines on paper (CAD blueprints) to get better-built buildings at lower cost. BIMs are data models to track all information about the design, construction, acquisition, and operation of a building.”
The following interview was excerpted from an article titled, “The Brilliance Of The Virtual Building Operations Center,” with George B. Huettel, P.E., president of Cyrus Technologies, Inc.
Sinclair: In your article titled, “The Virtual Building Operations Center” (VBOC), you talked about how the latest Web and IT technology can be leveraged to improve operating costs. Explain what you really mean by virtual as it applies to the concept of the building operations center.
Huettel: The idea of virtual that we are discussing is that of equipment, software, and talent needed to manage an enterprise building control system, whether it be for commercial, governmental, institutional, or other use. We believe that as open systems progress and the value of data from these systems increases to wider audiences within the enterprise, the criticality of the system increases. A VBOC approach toward building controls is not only more user-friendly for the average tenant or consumer of information, but it is kept up and running by the outsourced supplier. This, in of itself, helps a facilities department shift and maintain their focus back into their proper disciplines. VBOCs are created and maintained by professional IT people centered on the concept of software as a service (SaaS).
Now that you have all of your data collected all the time, when you run a report to answer a question, and that same report generates new questions, you know that you already have the data available to find those answers. It’s very empowering, and the only way to capture that last 15% to 20% of energy waste.
The VBOC is not intended to replace the functions of a well-designed and implemented control system at the building level. It is designed specifically to normalize data using IT standards of XML/SOAP Web services from various building control technologies. Once normalized, a standard set of tools for scheduling, alarm management, data trending, and reporting are used to permit aggregation of digital assets, not just physical assets. And since these tools are based in the IT space, they are more readily understood and managed by a greater pool of personnel.
The top end of the system for a multiple facility portfolio is truly opened up, not only for integration of various building system technologies, but also for sharing of data with other enterprise based systems. The effectiveness and usefulness of data typically “trapped” within a conventional building control system is enhanced tremendously, and we have only scratched the surface of what can be accomplished with the technology platform.
Sinclair: You’ve written a lot this past year about the need to create virtual peaking plants that can deliver capacity to the electric grid during times of peak demand. Can you elaborate on where participating companies can look to harvest the load in their facilities?
Kelly-Detwiler: Absolutely. There are a variety of automated building systems that represent prime load-response assets. Most familiar, of course, are heating, air conditioning, and lighting systems.
The definition of a load-response asset can be expanded well beyond these two opportunities to include any electricity load capable of being dropped, moved, or reduced during a specified time period to a level below what it would typically consume. Load-response assets are further characterized by a series of simple questions:
As you can imagine, the value of a load-response asset increases with reaction time, length of drop, and the number of times the process can be successfully repeated.
Steve Smith, director of sales and marketing for Honeywell Utility Solutions, explains how virtual applications will be presented on a thermostat near you from the article, “Demand Response Thermostats.” He says:
“Utilities implement demand response programs to help limit energy use at specific peak times, when demand strains the electric grid and results in higher prices for both utilities and their customers. One way to reduce demand is by installing smart thermostats or other load control devices in homes and small businesses. These devices allow the utilities to cycle equipment, like air conditioners, on and off for short periods of time.”
Is this all new? No it has been evolving virtually for years.
From a June 2007 article, titled “Truly Brilliant Buildings,” Deke Smith, AIA, executive director of builingSMART® Alliance National Institute of Building Services, offered the following:
“Vision: As a facility manager, imagine having a complete virtual model of your building with every important detail included for all the facilities in your portfolio. Imagine a model that you can walk through and simulate operations as well as having valuable information about the equipment installed in the facility. Imagine knowing who manufactured the piece of equipment, who installed it, when its warranty period ends, what preventive maintenance has been performed, and when the next maintenance is required.
“This would be invaluable. Imagine having information about what space people occupy, who might need special assistance in an emergency, what everyone’s phone number is, what kind of phone they have and whether it was operational, and what furniture is assigned to the space including color and fabric. Imagine, when preparing to remodel, knowing what and where things such as conduits, water piping, and communications cables are in the walls and the floor. Imagine having accurate connectivity information for all the computers and voiceover IP phone connections. Imagine having status information about the video teleconferencing sites for all your facilities. Imagine having security information at your fingertips including video feeds from cameras located throughout your site.
“It is all possible today, with preparation and planning, and less effort than you are now expending.
“An example of implementation of this vision is Web-based collaboration services such as that provided by companies like Aconex, an online document management service that provides Web collaboration for construction, engineering, and facilities management. The system manages information - including drawings, documents, and correspondence - online. This enables all authorized parties, internal and external, to view, distribute, and track their files electronically through one central system.”
Absolutely brilliant. GIB