Building Automation: The Net Effect (August 2000)
Current Commonalities in BAS and ITMany building automation systems (bas) are based on technologies found in today’s information technologies (IT) marketplace. This commonality between IT and bas is propagating further integration of software from both sides.
Deregulation is fueling the rapid development of Web-based energy control systems. Our Net-savvy clients are redefining “ease of use” and “accessibility to information.”
New products are being introduced daily that have Web servers as an integral part of their operating systems. Web-based hardware devices are greatly simplified and have an extremely low cost while providing inherited Web-based features. Features include worldwide access to generated data, e-mailing of data and alarms, unlimited statistical analysis, remote configuration from anywhere, and more. I call these products Web Ware and predict this exciting trend will grow rapidly in the next few years. The Internet/Intranet TCP/IP protocol, when coupled with an example like the http://199fremont.com/ building Web address in San Francisco, sets the mind churning as to the possibilities of total integrated Web control. To date, the Web address has only been used for marketing and general promotion. The potential of obtaining a completely “Webified” automated building excites me. 199 Fremont’s Webcam made progress on construction visible to the world, including builders, subcontractors, suppliers, consultants, and potential clients.
A building Web address has the ability to bring Web-based control concepts to the project. These include:
- Virtual thermostats/light switches for all occupants.
- Concepts such as dynamic online comfort surveys.
- Occupant scheduling of overtime with e-commerce charge back.
- Online complaint handling with interactive response and self-help suggestions.
- Interactive screens showing occupant how the building is caring for them, including IAQ reports.
- Online building help on any building subsystem plus frequently asked questions.
- Online O&M documentation, interactive with service support industry.
- Links to all equipment suppliers and installing contractors’ websites.
- Energy performance information for online energy brokers.
- Plus what the soup of the day is in the building’s restaurant.
Tight integration with Intranets and the Internet is now mandatory for our survival. If our industry does not provide this service, others will.
Soft documentation and interactive help is becoming an integral part of every product. Computer-based net training (CBT) is the way we will learn about these products, platforms, protocols, and software on a need to know basis. All of the above will feed our need for speed in accessing information sources; dial up will no longer do it.
How Will We Learn it all?How will you keep up with the tremendous amount of constantly changing information? First, you will learn only what you need to know, and you will teach yourself using the Internet. You will download relevant information or access online instruction to complete the task you must do. The above resources and new resources added daily to the net and/or on CD-ROM will become your education lifeline. The value of a vendor, supplier, and contractor will be judged by their ability to provide Web-based information.
Ask your vendors how they support:
- Systems and devices interoperability;
- Various communication standards;
- Internet presentation and interaction;
- Soft documentation, online and off;
- Computer-based training; and
- Tech support resources on the Web.