One such person is Grant Wichenko, President of Appin Associates, a Winnipeg, Manitoba-based engineering consultancy that has established an international reputation. Wichenko clearly lives in the moment.
“What are your lights and chiller units doing right now? What are the little decisions that you make every day, and what is the long-term impact for the building?” he asks. Pointing out that nearly every infrastructure device now has two-way communication capability for receiving instructions and reporting status, granularity and realtime insight are essential. “If there’s one switch for all the lights on the fifth floor, that’s not granular enough to be effective. And if the sun is warming one side of the building while the other is in shade, you need enough zone controls to maximize comfort in each area.”
Where some may see granularity leading to increased device headcount, Wichenko sees it as a money saver. “An A/V equipment room can easily generate enough heat to place demand on an entire chiller plant. Armed with the data to understand the localization of the problem, it’s a simple matter to add supplemental cooling that results in an overall energy-use reduction. You don’t want to run an entire chiller to satisfy one little room.”
Wichenko, with his broad expertise, is still something of a rare breed even though demand for integrators and engineers is exploding. “This is a fairly nascent field, and there’s a limited number of skilled professionals who can pull this off today,” says Creston’s Jacobson. “Fortunately, that is beginning to change as demand for these skills increases.”
In Libertyville, Illinois, Appin Associates was instrumental in the planning and implementation of the Lake County Central Permit Facility and Water Quality Laboratory, a green building with virtually all building systems integrated into a common internetwork employing the BACnet protocol. HVAC, boiler, chiller, lighting, fire alarm, electrical, power monitoring and specialty systems (including lab controls, fume hood, server room air conditioning, elevator and foam system) have BACnet interfaces.
According to the BACnet organization, Appin specified device requirements such that each vendor was responsible for providing their products in a BACnet-compatible configuration in addition to the native protocols used in each industry (fire alarms, HVAC controls, etc.). Suppliers whose products lacked native BACnet support were required to supply an appropriate interface. Among the long list products specified were Johnson Controls Inc.’s (JCI) Network Automation