BACnet interfaces and suppliers included Lift-Net to a ThyssenKrupp elevator, Dri-Steem to a humidifier, ITT to a domestic water booster pump system, Bell & Gossett to a Danfoss VSD/Pump Controller, Lutron’s own lighting system interface, and Megatron to a cooling tower water treatment system. In a statement commenting on the project, BACnet International says it demonstrates the scalability of BACnet where all systems in a building (except security in this case) can either be native BACnet or include an interface that presents the equipment as if it were a BACnet device.
Education plays a crucial role in getting the pieces to fit and interoperate. Crestron, for example, holds training sessions that introduce the concepts of integrated buildings while teaching best practices. Geared toward specifiers, integrators and independent programmers, they are offered at various Crestron locations and during certain industry tradeshows.
If IBM is thinking big, solutions manufacturer Control4 is thinking smaller, says Paul Williams, the Salt Lake City company’s Vice President of Security and Communication Experiences. “Of course smart facilities management makes sense for large office buildings, but small businesses — restaurants, sports bars, medical and dental offices, and law offices — can benefit by controlling temperatures, turning off lights, shutting window blinds.” In Dallas, Control4 recently completed retrofitting smart management systems for a Texas-size sports bar with more than 300 TV screens. The system manages the TVs, supporting A/V subsystems, power, lighting, and HVAC, all from a single console.
Savant Systems sees elegance in simplicity, too. “The simple occupancy census that we can get today is really too late to be useful,” says Jim Carroll, president of Savant Systems, which provides solutions that run on Apple gear. He’d rather work with what he calls ambient intelligence. “We find it better to tie into a room’s booking schedule and bring the temperature to the correct level before a meeting starts. If the meeting ends early, we can detect that with sensors and quickly scale back the HVAC, and turn off the lights and projector.”
While building green garners the glitz and glamour, it is smart building management that provides accrued savings over the long haul, able to adapt as a facility’s population rises and falls, and even when the nature of the business conducted there changes over time.
One thing is for sure: there is no shortage of opportunities. “You’ve got to make sure a building has set parameters for work time and off-work time, and whether HVAC systems are running in the most economical manner based on time of day, holiday schedule, astronomical clocks, and occupancy sensors,” says Control4’s Williams. “As I drive through our office park after sunset I see many buildings with lights on that clearly have no one there. Someone needs to be taking care of that.”