Summit Building during the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM.
Building technologies are in a state of continuous flux, but in recent years, the breadth of this topic has outdistanced architecture and traditional engineered systems. Today, building technology includes wide ranging IT and Internet services. Online technologies for next generation buildings hold significant promise, but implementation in actual facilities often lags behind availability. Readers of Engineered Systems have seen editorial supplements with great information on convergence, but many ask, Who is really doing this?

Builconn, the preeminent forum for integrated and interoperable buildings, developed a new awards program to answer that question and highlight just those types of buildings. The Buildy Awards were designed to increase awareness of the benefits to whole building integration, and to honor North American facilities that demonstrate the vision of networked building systems and strategies. This means effectively integrating a wide array of building systems and enabling operations over corporate IT infrastructures.

The Buildy for Best Integration Project in North America went to system integrator Energy Control Inc. (ECI) for the Summit Office Building project in Albuquerque. Summit's integration features DDC to the zone level, access control, and a diverse set of integrated systems. Efficiency also played a role as systems were financed and paid for from energy and operational cost savings. This building leverages the power of systems, which were traditionally isolated from both exchanges of data and control sequences.

Integrated and Interoperable

The term used for this technology in the past was intelligent buildings, which have been discussed for more than three decades, but only recently have they become viable. Actually the old definition of intelligent buildings falls far short of the "Buildy" level.

In the 1980s, intelligent building technology envisioned integrated automation for energy management, fire alarm, and security. A key goal was to combine system and telecommunication cabling. IT and the Internet were barely blips on the industry radar screen then. Redefining building systems as a result of IT and the Internet was further extended by the proliferation of data communications standards such as BACnet®. This confluence of events was significant in many ways, but most important it made it possible for building systems to integrate devices and software developed for much larger markets. Evolution of proprietary data communication networks to BACnet and Ethernet for Intranets, and then to BACnet/IP and TCP/IP for internetworking, were significant events. With all these developments, the term integration has taken on new meaning. A simple example of such technology is a Web browser to interface building systems, but that is just the start.

For many in the industry, integration means achieving data sharing and some level of control sequence cooperation (interoperability) between DDC systems, particularly legacy systems, or combinations of legacy and standard or "open systems." The term has taken on a much broader meaning.

Initially integration did focus on DDC, but as early as the 1980s a number of manufacturers added fire and security systems, and expanded the concept. Interoperability is one aspect of integration that makes it possible to leverage the combined power of multiple building systems through coordinated control action. Some of these functions may be between DDC systems, but equally exciting are those that occur when disparate systems are integrated.

An example is when access and video surveillance systems interoperate to ensure that an unauthorized occupant does not follow an authorized one into a building, called anti-piggybacking. The Buildy focus on integrated and interoperable buildings envisions achieving such functionality and more, including many functions that were not before conceived. Consider integration to enable a combined heat and power system based upon real-time pricing data from an energy supplier, historical weather data, and actual electrical demand for the past 24 hours. For the Buildy winners, this is just the beginning of technology applied. Some of the exciting interoperable systems applied by one award winner are shown in Figure 1 and include:

  • Automation and DDC in every office;
  • Access control for security;
  • Video surveillance for security with virtual trip wires;
  • Fire alarm notification;
  • Data networking (Ethernet and T1);
  • IT services;
  • Internet services and Internet service provider (ISP); and
  • High-speed wireless for streaming data and video.

Achieving this expanded level of functionality required a new specialized industry professional, the system integrator, who combines the power of many computer-based systems in buildings with IT, the Internet, and Web services to increase occupant comfort and productivity.

System integrators use sophisticated digital hardware, while creating and programming software to make convergence possible. Convergence has been the subject of several editorial supplements in ES. It has also been covered in trade publications, industry events, Internet discussion groups, and has even seeped into manufacturers' websites.

Without a doubt, IT convergence is changing the face of the building systems industry, and Buildy awards recognize those who champion the resulting whole building integration. The Summit project blends traditional building systems technology, IT and Web services to optimize building operations. Whether integration projects begin with access control, HVAC, lighting, security or IT, the Buildy Awards recognize those companies that have integrated a system into the entire scheme of a building. This building must support the vision of networked systems in which all the facility's disparate systems are seamlessly integrated to provide managers greater value from their investment.

Close-Up On The Winner

Of great interest is that BuilConn has been focused on large building owners in major metropolitan areas, and it was perceived that these would be the early adopters of integration and interoperability. Yet Summit is a small office building and for owners to invest in this level of technology is very unusual. Though integration goes far beyond DDC, Summit started there. ECI integrated BACnet technology from Delta Controls with a legacy system from TAC. ECI had implemented DDC technology for this water source heat pump building at construction before BACnet was introduced. The sophisticated system applied DDC at the boiler, cooling tower, and every heat pump.

An opportunity to complete the Delta Controls BACnet portion of this integration occurred when tenant improvements required renovation of HVAC systems. ECI sold the idea of a BACnet system including seamless integration to legacy DDC with Delta's ORCAview software as a building interface.

Figure 1 shows that FieldServer was used to integrate the legacy DDC protocol to BACnet/IP. FieldServer Technologies specializes in development of manufacturer authorized protocol translators and Ethernet gateways for BACnet, LonWorks®, and dozens of other systems. The FieldServer points were mapped over to the BACnet system interface. Again for many controls professionals, integration would have stopped there, but this was just the beginning at Summit. The integrator expanded from DDC to electronic access control for security. Access was the first security technology integrated; yet the task was simplified by using the DDC systems' capability for access control of exterior and interior doors.

In a post-9/11 world, security technology is in demand. So the next step was to add 24/7 video surveillance for security, with pan/tilt/zoom cameras and virtual tripwire software technology. The cameras offer auto iris control along with the ability to switch from color to black and white for better nighttime imaging. This was a major enhancement in building functionality, but it was also a shift from traditional DDC technology to many new types of software and hardware. Adding access control was straightforward because most DDC manufacturers have added that functionality to their base systems. This means the same programming tools and data protocols can be used to simplify design and installation. Adding this video security system offered much more value for the owner, but was more technically complex.

Previously integration of DDC and security targeted burglar alarm technology not video. Burglar systems are critical for safety, but they are technically simple when compared to DDC. In essence these systems have many digital inputs. If an input opens, signaling an intrusion, the system initiates an alarm dial-out and that is it.

The evolution of video security, particularly digital video, dramatically complicated security systems and integration with DDC. Summit's architecture diagram shows that digital video recorders (DVR) were integrated to allow for migration of data up to a corporate LAN and over the Internet. The term DVR is a fallback to analog video security, when such devices were no more than a video recorder. The latest generation of DVR is really a server with ports for 16 cameras, a 480-gigabyte hard drive for video archival, and on-board read-write compact disk drives to offload important data. These servers can also upload data to secondary storage via the LAN and the Internet.

This level of security integration goes far beyond analog video by integrating intrusion detection. The DVRs can detect motion in the camera view and trigger alarms but, like all motion detection, this functionality is limited and prone to false alarms.

To significantly improve intrusion detection, ECI integrated sophisticated MATE security software, which was developed in Israel, and is capable of creating virtual tripwires. A virtual tripwire is a software line drawn across the camera's field of vision to identify, for example, a property boundary. This software can also establish protected areas, track rate of speed or direction, and perform facial recognition scans that can be integrated with access control. Such integration allows systems to verify that the face of the person using the access device matches the image on file.

With tripwires, if one pixel changes along a property boundary indicating an intrusion, an alarm is triggered. With this technology, buildings can be monitored 24/7 for intrusion. With digital data and integration of Web services, it is possible to both capture and transmit images of an intruder over the Internet. ECI has developed an integration that allows for camera images to be streamed via wireless high-speed Internet to tablet PCs in a police officer's or a secutiry guard's car. This allows officers to be mobile and still receive alarms. Further, they can see intruders and track their movements, making it possible to choose the ideal moment for apprehension. With the pan/tilt/zoom function, cameras can track intruders and zoom in for close-ups that can be streamed to another location for identification.

Figure 1 also shows the monitoring of fire technology. This is a tri-water system using the condenser water loop to the heat pumps for sprinklers. As shown, the fire system is not true data integration. It is a proprietary fire network protocol used when multiple panels are installed. There is a modem dial out to notify a monitoring center in the event of alarm, and there is limited data sharing via physical DDC point interface to monitor water temperature, pressure, and other conditions.

FieldServer Technologies and other companies have begun to implement gateways for further integration of fire systems including expanded monitoring of duct smoke detectors, fire dampers, etc. The integrator's challenge is to walk the fine line between fire code and control functions that truly bring value to customers. This combination of security and fire with DDC represents state-of-the-art building integration, but again Summit goes far beyond by incorporating networking and IT.

Figure 1. An architectural diagram showing the integration system at the Summit Building in Albuquerque.

IT And Wireless

The integration of IT is a critical element of this project, which makes it possible to integrate all building data and migrate it up to a level of the architecture that allows for management action to be taken. IT is an independent market and its introduction to the building industry demands a significant educational undertaking for facility professionals. IT integration at Summit included the diverse set of LAN, data communication, and wireless Internet technologies listed below.

Data Networking

  • Gigabit Ethernet building backbone 10/100/1000 physical network with fiber optics;
  • 802.11a,b, g wireless net (54Mb /sec); and
  • Point-to-point tenant wireless and T1 service. IT
  • SharePoint portal Web services;
  • Application software for tenant services including video and access archives;
  • IPSEC 3 DES encryption data security; and
  • Microsoft .Net technology. Internet services
  • System integrator is the ISP; and
  • High-speed wireless data and video from Summit to sites throughout the area.

The building Ethernet LAN is the backbone for all data communications, but the Internet is the key to integration. Internet communications are implemented via T1 physical data communication lines, as well as via Wireless Fidelity (WI-FI) high-speed Internet. At Summit, Internet communication utilizes ".NET" a Microsoft solution for Web services.

.NET technology enables the creation and use of XML-based applications, processes, and websites as services that share and combine information and functionality with each other by design, on any platform or smart device, to provide tailored solutions. There has been much discussion in our industry about XML, and .Net can be used to achieve such Web services as a building Internet portal. XML and SOAP services can be tailored to building managers' needs, and can be fed into a single, integrated experience.

One of the key challenges with interface to the myriad of systems, DDC, access, security, etc., is that users must support five or more software packages on any one computer to interface with all of these. To overcome that problem, ECI created a building portal or Real-time Enterprise Dashboard™. This is a central building home page with hypertext markup language (HTML) hot links to launch software for interface with all critical systems. The software can be Web-hosted on one Internet server rather than numerous individual machines. A dashboard provides a fully functional interface to all building systems via the Web-host and browser.

Summit also made use of WI-FI for individual user interface via access points or hot spots for dashboard interface. WI-FI was used for point-to-point Internet protocol tunneling between Summit and other sites. Video and data were streamed to sites over 12 miles away with 54Mb/sec high-speed Internet connection. The system integrator offers Web-hosted services for customers, and is also the ISP for building tenants.

Data security is an important topic for an integration of Summit's scale, and it required a significant effort to address facility data protection. IPSEC or Internet Protocol Security technology with 3-DES data encryption is deployed to ensure that all interactions between the system, the dashboard, and the Web are secure.

Another exciting initiative, for which ECI hopes to use Summit as a test bed, relates to the DOE GridWise™ Architecture Board. GridWise is a movement being spurred by the DOE's Office of Electric Transmission and Distribution and is orchestrated by Pacific Northwest National Labs.

Over the last decade, leading-edge industries have been using real-time information, e-business systems, and market efficiencies to minimize the need for inventory and infrastructure while maximizing productivity and efficiency. DOE GridWise is targeted at moving the U.S.'s electricity grid into the information age. Information technologies and newly created market efficiencies can optimize the grid, minimize the need for new infrastructure, lower costs, and make the system more secure. IT can be the genesis of a "virtual" energy infrastructure where smarter use of the physical infrastructure in place today could offset the need for new capital investments in power plants. Combining Buildy-quality technology with a smart grid will create a completely new Web-based industry in the buildings space. This technology will transform every aspect of the energy and buildings industry, and will pave the way for facilities that are far more intelligent than anyone could have imagined possible. ES