CABA’s survey of the current landscape reveals that obstacles remain but that they won’t stop owners from pursuing the benefits of intelligent buildings. Will the industry respond to make sure the path toward efficiency doesn’t become the road not taken?

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“The industry needs to get together to integrate or at least educate all of the people that are involved. The owner cannot integrate the industry, the architect cannot integrate the industry, the industry must integrate itself and take the lead … .” That comment came from a participant in CABA’s commercial office focus group. What is holding back the widespread acceptance of the intelligent building? This is a question that the CABA Intelligent Buildings Roadmap (IBR) project set out to answer. This project was started in early 2006, as a follow up to the well-respected CABA “Technology Roadmap” document which was released in 2002 and is often referenced in the industry.

The IBR project has been backed by a large group of organizations, including Cisco Systems, Direct Energy, ESC Automation/Delta Controls, Johnson Controls, HID Corporation, Honeywell International, Tridium, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Wattstopper / Legrand North America, Lutron Electronics, Panduit Corp., Siemens Building Technologies, TAC, Trane, and InfoComm International. Our firm, the Building Intelligence Group, was selected to research and write the report, which has now been completed.

Methodology and results

The project started by doing a thorough analysis of the North American buildings market, cutting it apart into various vertical markets and identifying the key issues and impediments of each area. This was followed by a series of online focus groups where we interviewed the key decisionmakers, designers, and buyers of these systems.

The results of these interviews then drove the rest of the report. What we learned from the interviews is that the challenges are not with products, technologies, or standards. Instead, we face a chasm in delivering to owners the required integrated products and solutions that they are demanding. We heard the following themes from the interviews:

  • “It is a challenge to prove the value of an intelligent building and get project funding.”
  • “Finding qualified consultants and suppliers is tough.”
  • “There is a strong need to improve the efficiency and sustainability of buildings.”
  • “A lack of coordination among the various parties involved with an intelligent building project creates major obstacles to implementation.”

Remarkably, when we asked the participants about their plans to implement intelligent buildings within the next one to two years, almost all indicated that they plan to do so, despite their frustrations and challenges!

Why do they want to do this? The answer is that they are being pressed to deliver more efficiency, productivity, safety, and performance from both the current and planned projects. On top of this, they are getting additional pressure to deliver sustainable projects. Owners see intelligent building technologies as the method that they will be using to deliver on these needs.

This strong owner demand shows that we need to become better organized to meet their needs. Ultimately, this would be expected to result in better buildings and an increased market for the products and solutions that are required for delivery of these projects. The challenge that we face is in becoming more integrated as designers, contractors, suppliers, and as an industry as a whole.

An action plan

In addition to summarizing the market research, the report goes on to analyze the impediments that we face as an industry and provide recommended actions to overcome these issues. A series of detailed action plans, or roadmaps, are provided for owners, designers, contractors, suppliers, and for the industry as a whole. Following these plans provides the route to grow the industry and deliver on owner needs.

The most extensive of these roadmaps is a series of recommendations for the industry as a whole. This set of recommendations includes:

  • Marketing programs, industry branding, and advertising
  • Tool development
  • Building awards
  • Education programs
  • Certifications
  • Knowledge building and best practices
  • Market research
  • Trade show

CABA has already started to evaluate the implementation and delivery of these programs, and a series of planning meetings are being organized to gain input and support during events planned for May and June.

A summary of the report is currently available for download, and the complete report is expected to be published in July. See>a for more details.

There is clearly a strong opportunity to not only deliver better buildings, but to grow the size and sophistication of our industry. Take the time to download and read the summary and the report. Become involved in industry groups such as CABA and look for opportunities to participate in the process of transforming our industry.

“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” H. Stanley Judd, author. Ibt