For several years, my website, columns, articles, and magazine supplements have been extolling the merits of integration. Although my preachings often ramble on about the inevitable integration path, do not interpret my words to mean that there will be integration without reason. All integration must be driven by added value and must increase the overall intelligence and net worth of all it touches.

The definition of intelligence from the Web is the ability to comprehend, to understand and profit from experience. Never before has our industry had such an opportunity to do exactly that. Our challenge is to provide integrated intelligence by building bridges to our client's enterprise and his core business through seamless connections of our real-time building control systems. If we can corral our industry's energies to work together intelligently, we can all greatly profit from our experiences. Old-style thinking can be dangerous. Let me quote some startling words from an anonymous article on the AutomatedBuildings.com website titled "A View From The Outside Looking In":

The major controls groups will not change until market pressures force them to. There is no doubt that TCP/IP and IT technology are the only way for true building integration to occur. In the near future, manufacturers of IT-based building systems will lead the way.

So what is the future?

DDC and security systems will become a commodity not unlike cell phones: inexpensive, highly functioning devices sold on the open market. OEM markets will expand far beyond what we see today. Engineers will be able to specify the best boiler management system and have it arrive pre-programmed for a specific job. The same will be true for air-handling systems; simply specify the best controller for this application and have it factory installed, programmed, and tested before being delivered to the job site. You need only look at the flurry of M&A (merger and acquisition) activity to see the market strategies forming. JCI is buying mechanical contractors, a building management company, and now, York International. Schneider Electric bought TAC, Andover, and Power Measurement. The independent HVAC/BAS contractor should be looking for a new business. Key market trends that support this:

  • The packaging of equipment, controls, and services (JCI, Trane, Carrier).
  • One source for all building subsystems (Siemens, Schneider).
  • HVAC distributors offering turnkey parts and smarts solutions to any trunk slammer.

The future remains to be seen, but the next few years should make for an entertaining ride. With so many companies fighting for the top spot on the integration pyramid, the ultimate winner should be the consumer.

Radical changes are in our future, and opportunities also abound. Although the larger companies are investing heavily in buying companies that excel at intelligent integration, they will only be as successful as the weakest link, because it is people who make it all happen. Only intelligent implementers of integration will be able to provide understanding, increased value, and net worth to the client's project with their accumulated experiences.

There are a finite number of people with this skill set. Additionally, they are not all aligned in any one camp. This creates great opportunity for those who see the big picture to work independently as integration consultants and/or contractors exercising their skill in the intelligent growth of their client's enterprise. Intelligence integration will be developed by those who are able to understand and profit from their experiences and who can provide the best real-time connections to their client's world. These people will develop the new intelligence working directly with their client's problems and his enterprise.

History has proven that innovation does not come from the industry giants. When new concepts are developed and have been proven, accepted, and more importantly, actually work, the industry giants will simply buy the company. This reduces the risk and cost of taking new intelligent concepts to market.

Jack Mc Gowan provided the following insight during his remarks at BuilConn 2005:

"Intelligent buildings are here now, but in the near future, the focus will transform to the intelligent enterprise. From there, the next trend will be to elevate the intelligent enterprise ultimately to the intelligent electric grid or GridWise.

"GridWise envisions Web services to create a smart national electricity distribution system or grid. A smart grid would be more reliable by allowing utilities to respond quickly and intelligently to emergencies. The underlying technology, however, will allow GridWise to do much more by creating tremendous savings opportunities for energy users and extending interoperability to a new level. Futurists talk about disruptive technologies that completely reshape markets. GridWise introduces just that type of technology."

What is GridWise and the Interoperability Constitution?

The Reason. The GridWise Architecture Council (GAC) was created in 2004 following the Northeast blackout in August 2003, and in response to Congress' and the DOE's call for a next-generation electric system.

The GAC incorporates IT advancements into electric system operations by establishing broad industry consensus in support of the technical principles that enable the interoperability necessary to transform electric power operations into a system that enhances socio-economic well-being and security, while optimizing energy cost.

The conference's purpose is to discuss and ratify an Interoperability Constitution that states the fundamental principles that will facilitate the interoperation of intelligent demand-side or customer resources (load, storage, distributed generation) with supply-side electric system generation and transmission over the coming decades.

The Event. Electricity is critical to the U.S. economy, and yet the reliability is at risk. This event will ratify a constitution to define reliability and energy efficiency for the electric grid for 30 years. The focal point is on expansion of clean energy and high-wage jobs in the energy sector. The outcome will have a huge impact on energy cost and energy reliability. The outcome will transform the electricity business and help reduce the need to spend $450 billion on power plants to meet a 40% increase projected in electricity demand by 2025.

The Initiative. The goal is to define the requirements for a common information technology backbone for the electric industry, an Internet-based energy business. This can result in a smart grid that is self-healing to avoid interruptions of power. It can also transform the energy industry and create new technology-based jobs that will make it possible to dispatch energy efficiency instead of starting a power plant. The market opportunity is conservatively 10% of the $250 billion electricity market and is expected to save U.S. consumers $80 billion.

A part of GridWise's added intelligence is demand response (DR), a set of time dependant activities that reduce or shift electricity use to improve electric grid reliability, manage electricity costs, and provide systems that encourage load shifting or shedding during times when the electric grid is near its capacity or electric prices are high.

DR is a subset of demand-side management, which also includes energy efficiency and conservation. The overall goal of this research project was to support increased penetration of DR in large facilities through the use of automation and better understanding of DR technologies and strategies in large facilities. To achieve this goal, a set of field tests was designed and conducted, which examined the performance of automatic DR systems that covered a diverse set of building systems, ownership and management structures, climate zones, weather patterns, and control and communication configurations.

GridWise and DR, coupled with online utility pricing, adds to the concept of integrating intelligence. From yet another article on the AutomatedBuildings.com website titled "Trends In Intelligent Buildings in the Asia Pacific:

Intelligent Buildings in the Intelligent City

by Hari Gunasingham, Eutech Cybernetics, Pte Ltd.

In the Asia Pacific, the notion of an intelligent building is becoming inextricably linked to the broader idea of the intelligent city. In this regard, intelligent buildings are not just standalone entities, but interconnected hubs within the citywide infrastructure. The natural consequence of this is the development of cities within cities: smaller ecosystems comprising a tightly integrated network of buildings that better enables the management and optimization of systems and resources.

Why this is important is that it gives rise to an entirely different set of drivers that make intelligent buildings an economic and business necessity and not just something that is "nice to have." Perhaps the most important business driver is the ability to reduce cost, optimize manpower utilization, and improve service levels through aggregation, service integration, and process automation respectively. Some practical examples where this can yield benefits include:

  • Centralized Energy Management - e.g., district cooling and micro-power generation systems, and aggregation for energy procurement.
  • Transportation - integrated parking management that integrates a building's internal car park system within the framework of a citywide car park management system.
  • Security and Life Safety - e.g., integrated early warning and crisis management system.
  • Maintenance and Facility Management - e.g., field service automation to manage assets across multiple buildings.


What Are Some of the New Sources of Intelligence Being Integrated?

Digital displays support commerce, public safety, and information needs because they are so visual, vivid, and eye-catching. Being able to provide information at a point of decision, or when information is needed, underpins the value of this communications medium for advertisers and public service providers.

Digital signage is a display system used to present a dynamic computer generated message to your audience. It includes full motion video, graphics, sound, and text. Ideal locations are corporate offices, retail stores, malls, hotels, restaurants, schools, and airports. The actual display device can be plasma or LCD displays, or multiple monitors.

IP networks and open standards are changing this industry as well, and opening up new business opportunities. A-V components are moving to Web-based controls and user interfaces. Voiceover IP (VOIP) technology can be utilized as a central building paging and/or public address system which can be zoned much more cost-effectively than its analog predecessors. Properly designed, a VOIP paging system can also be used for emergency voice communication purposes and background music. Digital information displays can be designed to serve multiple building functions: corporate or public bulletin boards, video broadcasts (CNN, Weather Channel, etc.), stock market information, and to deliver fire, security and life safety messages, or videos.

A new breed of networked sensors that are low-cost, of ultra-miniature size, media independent (wired or wireless), and feature extensible architecture, and universal applicability across different industries are positioned to add a new level of intelligences. For example, consider what can be done when a control network and sensors are embedded within carpeting. Smart carpeting would allow traffic patterns to be tracked, directing cleaning crews only to those areas that were trafficked. Occupied areas could be identified to emergency response teams, right down to individual office cubicles, in the event of a fire. An alarm could be raised automatcally if a guard on his rounds is overcome by an intruder.

What Does it Take to Measure Intelligence?

From an interview on the AutomatedBuildings.com website with Thomas J. Lohner, P.E., vice president for TENG Solutions:

Sinclair: Can you give me a quick description of the work done to date on the Task Force 1 - Intelligent Building (IB) Ranking System?

Lohner: The IB Ranking System will be an online tool intended to assist building owners/managers, the commercial real estate industry, and other industry stakeholders assess the level of integrated systems within a building (e.g., develop a BIQ [building intelligence quotient]). A comprehensive list of intelligent building criteria has been developed as well as a "ranking matrix." An IB ranking workshop was held in Dallas this past year in conjunction with the BuilConn conference to review and refine the ranking matrix. This matrix and the various intelligent building functional areas now will form the basis for a comprehensive ranking tool. The task force has recently completed the development of a formal RFP and is ready to engage the services of a qualified contractor.

Conclusion: Intelligence Begats Intelligence

Integrating intelligence is not only desirable but is becoming a mandatory requirement to provide our client the best automation solutions with the simplest connections to real-time data, Web-based data, and the corporate enterprise. Intelligent buildings are part of intelligent cities, and those cities are connected to an intelligent national utility supply source. ES