Although we as an industry have said the words before, the fact remains: We have never reached our potential of providing intelligences or integration in our buildings.

We now have all the tools at our disposal to achieve levels of intelligence and integration never before seen, but desperately need sophisticated owners, designers, and integration experts to explore our potential. It is very much what comes first, the chicken or the egg scenario.

As an industry we must work harder and faster to educate sophisticated owners and designers as to the new capabilities of our industry, while learning about how they perceive our involvement in their corporate enterprise. To achieve these goals, it is necessary to create new relationships with specialized building integration and intelligence designers to explore possibilities with the owners' data enterprise.

Get Your Technology Roadmap

I am encouraged and applaud the work of the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) that has formed the CABA Intelligent & Integrated Buildings (IB) Council to help develop "the technology roadmap."

The purpose of this CABA member council is to identify large building automation initiatives that will move the industry forward. The IB Council's overall objective is to work on "large building" issues and opportunities that allow CABA to achieve its mission, which is: "to encourage the development, promotion, pursuit and understanding of integrated systems and automation in homes and buildings."

The Necessity of Intelligent Buildings

An article on the AutomatedBuildings.com website called, "Trends in Intelligent Buildings in the Asia Pacific," by Hari Gunasingham, Eutech Cybernetics Pte. Ltd., (available at www.automatedbuildings.com/news/jan02/art/hari/hari.htm) states:

"Intelligent Buildings in the Intelligent City"

"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 stand-alone 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 enable 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 synthesizes a building's internal car park system into 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 multiple buildings).

Eutech is working with several partners, including Colliers International Asset Management in Singapore, to develop solutions for the management of networks of multiple buildings. Again, the strategy is software driven, based on Eutech's iViva.works platform. The software is located at a central location and enables the remote management of multiple buildings over the Internet, wide area network, or telephone network.

Intelligent buildings are becoming an intrinsic part of the cityscape in the Asia Pacific. The opportunities for entrepreneurial companies to work in this field in this region will be immense.

Hari certainly paints a larger picture than we normally think of when we get our minds around intelligent and integrated buildings. Today's software tools are unlimited and this allows me to strongly believe what he states in his article.

Elsewhere in the article, Hari points out that many cities in the Asia Pacific are being completely rebuilt. This alleviates the limitations of issues such as the need to conform to or accommodate older legacy systems.

As North Americans, I think we should heed these words, as often our new projects are simply overlaid on a decaying infrastructure that limits our future choices and causes us to build what we have built before because we know we can and, in the short term, it is the lowest cost. ES