We have breaking news for you this month, in the form of a limited-space opportunity available to registrants for our gathering this fall in San Diego. Rather than paraphrasing what we've already written once, let me just give it to you straight from the attractively short, concise, and official press release:

The organizers of the BAC 2006 conference are proud to announce an optional building tour as part of the upcoming conference in San Diego on September 12-13, 2006. The tour will feature one of San Diego's premier buildings, One America Plaza. This project was built overlooking San Diego Bay in the late 1980s and was designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn.

Over the last 10 years, this property has been transformed into one of the most advanced intelligent buildings in North America. The building features a high-speed building optical network (BON) which provides broadband and wireless access for all tenants. A recent controls upgrade provides for network access to all systems, including CCTV cameras, air handlers, chillers, and terminal units. The intelligence continues into the operation of the building with the use of wireless handheld tools for the operations staff, digital images of all drawings and documents, and a tenant portal. This project is a great example of the value of an intelligent building.

Due to the limited space in the building's mechanical areas, the capacity of the tour is limited to 50 attendees. Early registrants for the BAC 2006 conference will have an option to register for the tour at no additional charge.

This unusual opportunity should provide a great real-world tie-in to the discussions we'll be having in San Diego, so pursue the quick signup at http://www.bnpevents.com/ES/BAC/IBTour2006.htm, if you're interested.

magic kingdom, magic deadbolt

You may recall that we went to the movies in this space last month. I had worried (silly me) that the cinema's air conditioning may have been having problems. As it turned out, the system was merely synchronized to kick in once the previews started. I wondered if any readers had encountered similarly pleasant surprises. Which brings us to a recent e-mail from John Salas, principal with Salas O'Brien Engineers, Inc. in San Jose:

In your May magazine editorial, you asked if anyone was surprised by a level of HVAC sophistication. Well, as one who has aggressively pursued designing sustainable, efficient systems, I was pleasantly surprised at not so much the HVAC sophistication, but rather the application of simplicity in control utilizing a very basic concept to determine occupancy.

I was at a hotel at Disney World, where I was teaching a controls seminar. When I checked into the hotel room, the bellhop told me that in order to have air conditioning, I had to lock the deadbolt on the door to the room. Naturally, I was surprised by this simple idea. When a person is inside the room, it provides additional security while allowing the HVAC system to prove occupancy before turning on. When you leave the room, the door locks, but not the deadbolt, so the system turns off.

This occurred about eight years ago, and I have only seen it in one hotel room. Perhaps others have seen this used also. We have since applied a similar concept since in classrooms, so that if the instructor leaves the door open, the heating and air conditioning (but not the ventilation) is locked out.

Of course, BAS have evolved to the point where the HVAC can be turned on when you register at the front desk and turned off when you check out, but that doesn't really address the system status while you're there. So the deadbolt approach could step in to save a property some expense during the literal in's and out's of your stay, assuming the guests don't mind the readjustment transition to the desired temperature every time they come back to the room.

The other possible downside involves forgetting to deadbolt your door at some point. But basic psychology (no deadbolt, no air conditioning) would probably make that a one-time error, don't you think? Kind of like learning to try to avoid the room next to the ice machine.