Due to the constraints of that pesky time-space continuum, there is no way to get news from the AHR/ASHRAE festivities into this month’s print issue. We regret this unavoidable little collision between the event schedule and our printing schedule, but you can always get several immediate reports about what happened in Dallas from our main website and blog. Of course, this will no longer be a problem once our crack research team puts the finishing touches on the ES flux capacitor to allow time travel, a la Back To The Future, or when they discover a way for us to beam industry headlines directly into your brain via satellite.

Then again, I can already envision interoperability issues arising over the chip you’d have to implant to receive the satellite updates, so perhaps we’ll just stick with the Internet (OK, and maybe the time travel) if it’s all the same to you.

STATE OF THE BUILDING

I joke about interoperability, but this month’s Intelligent Buildings Today supplement represents an important moment of reflection on the road toward more integrated, more efficient, smarter facilities. We’ve been nudging and occasionally cheerleading about the benefits of intelligent buildings for a few years now, especially via Ken Sinclair’s column and more recently by promoting successful projects and integration ideas in IBT. Words and concepts that seemed esoteric in these pages a few years ago are now commonplace.

Nonetheless, hurdles remain, and it’s critical to step back now and then and evaluate where we stand. Each of the three articles in this month’s IBT uses its own angle in doing exactly this. Paul Ehrlich shows us a figure that is as illuminating as it is simple when it comes to an industry-embracing technology. Eugene Spencer reports on a CABA study investigating how many owners have already bought various automation/integration capabilities in their existing systems, only to underuse or not use them at all. Finally, integration expert Ira Goldschmidt starts a two-part series on the two main categories of challenges in the way of widespread building intelligence.

You don’t make real progress without a hard look at the real obstacles in your path, and that’s why this month’s IBT is worth a look for anyone who wants to work with or benefit from integrated systems. The issues are real, but an overall sense of optimism is also well-founded. For those who get beyond previous attitudes and routines to make the most of the intelligent buildings concept for their own building(s), it’s no longer pie in the sky, but rather dough in the hand.

SOUTHERN ACCENTS

Before you even get to the IBT supplement (and our first BAS Sourcebook right behind it), you’ll notice that this is our first issue with a regional focus. That’s a twist we added to the editorial calendar for this year. From Kevin Dickens’ cover story on managing moisture to Joanna Turpin’s story on chiller retrofits at a Florida college, on to the corrections ventilation piece from a Virginia engineer and “Case In Point” entries covering Texas and New Orleans, the spotlight is on smart HVAC where the weather can get hot, muggy, or even downright swampy.

We recognize that many aspects of HVAC engineering are the same across the country, but that regional climate differences can make for significantly different maintenance concerns and design considerations. Look for a focus on other regions in the months ahead, and as always, we encourage you to drop us a line with your thoughts - including suggestions for future region-specific topics and projects - about these new themes.

MEET IN MARYLAND

Finally, are you joining us for the follow-up to last year’s sold-out spring Building Automation Conference? We’ve recharged the agenda and added an energy track, ready for more good seminars and even better discussion among attendees and expert presenters on March 21-22 in Baltimore. Go to http://bnpevents.com/ES/BAC/ to sign up for these two days of enlightenment, networking, and comraderie as participants like you learn how to make the most of the ever-changing automation possibilities. In the meantime, enjoy the good old-fashioned print issue - no chips, batteries, or flux capacitors required.