In the last few decades, our industry has evolved from low visibility subcontractors supplying thermostats, dampers, and valves, to our present position of partnering directly with owners to simplify, enhance, and automate building operations.

It is no secret that most control/automation/integration companies now negotiate directly over 50% of their work, and bid and spec is becoming less of a way of life. Our industry has grown in many directions simultaneously extending our visibility and reach. Do we grasp the significance of this rapid shift in our existing business model?

We still approach our day-to-day business much as we have in the past, but we are a changed industry. I feel that a general overhaul is necessary and a serious repackaging of us as a new industry is required. One of our major problems is that we are extremely fragmented as an industry. Although we all provide similar services, products, and end results, we all provide it in a different manner. This fragmented approach sends a confusing message to the building owners, designers, and developers as to the validity and sustainability of our industry.

Communication standards such as BACnet(tm), LonWorks(tm), and TCP/IP have addressed this concern, but still our fragmented approach scares all but the bravest building owners and developers. Groups like CABA (Continental Automated Buildings Association) are working to quantify significant industry changes like this one:

On December 3, 2002, CABA and the Government of Canada officially released the Technology Roadmap (TRM) for Intelligent Buildings at CABA's 2002 Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Conference. The TRM for Intelligent Buildings was a collaborative $110,000 research project between industry and five federal government departments and agencies, managed by the Continental Automated Buildings Association. The project focused upon commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings, and it culminated in a final report that provides an in-depth examination of intelligent buildings technologies. Download a copy at

Goals and Mile Markers

The TRM explores and explains the current status and imminent opportunities offered by the accelerating evolution and use of intelligent building technologies. The focus is on commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings, both new projects and retrofits, in a five-year time horizon.

The most successful intelligent buildings indicate that the greatest advantages come from integrating communications and ensuring that the traditional systems have the ability to communicate and interoperate. A single-operator interface must recognize status and control information of all systems. The primary benefit comes from the shared space, infrastructure, and operating staff.

Current trends to work from home encourage remote interaction with building communications and services. Construction methods and technologies are breaking down some conventional barriers. Increasing concern with environmental impacts and with security needs are market forces that influence intelligent building functionality.

Intelligent buildings depend on the increasing reliability of secure and resilient communication infrastructures. Mobile telephones are well established, encouraging mobile communications in many other forms. This technology has substantial value for in-building applications as well.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The major "actionable" conclusions and recommendations to promote intelligent buildings are:
  • Intelligent building technologies are generally available but are not yet widely adopted;
  • There is reluctance by much of the development and construction industry to embrace them;
  • Many changes and initiatives must occur for these technologies to become widespread; and
  • There is a need for promotion and education at all levels and in all segments of the industry.

The TRM recommends many actions that require cooperation, as is typical of progress in technology applications in today's world.

Although this is a start, much repackaging is required to correctly create our new identity. We must reach out of our known arenas as a unified industry and carry our message to large building owners and designers through groups like BOMA ( and RealComm (

Glowing examples of our successfully implemented capabilities must be promoted as viable and scalable concepts for building owners to build on.ES