August 2012

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Page 47 of 103

Two examples of built-in software that serve as digital building interface dashboards from Siemens Building Controls as used in the lobbies of The University of Alberta and Red Deer College. Each contains a server that collects the displayed information. Courtesy Hemisphere Engineering Inc. INTEGRATED APPROACH THANKS TO BETTER INTEGRATION, AUTOMATED BUILDING CONTROL SYSTEMS ARE IMPROVING EFFICIENCIES ON EVERYTHING FROM HVAC TO SECURITY by Godfrey Budd I Integration remains the focus of a lot attention in the building automation and control systems sector, and, in Canada, certainly, building automation systems (BAS) experts see plenty of work left to be done. But thanks to communications protocols like BACnet, various technical improvements, new products – and dozens of conferences and workshops on integration – previously separate building systems are converging on standard platforms, applications and infrastructures. "The synergy created by that convergence is translating into lower construction costs along with increased ef iciencies in operations and energy usage," says a white paper, The Perfect Technology Storm, from Johnson Controls. Higher energy prices are helping to drive BAS 48/ AUGUST 2012 p.48-49Automated.indd 48 innovation. Utility costs have climbed steeply over the last decade, as the price of a barrel of oil rose from around $20 in 1999 to just under $100 today. The Johnson white paper notes that the Houston-based International Facility Management Association (IFMA) found that utility costs among its members jumped 19 per cent between 2006 and 2008. The Internet appears to be playing a critical role in the transformation to integrated building management systems. Sales of Internet protocol (IP)-based integrated building control systems have been gaining ground on non IP-based systems, and may have already surpassed them. Besides integration's energy savings and boosts to ef iciency, "There is growing market acceptance of the integrated approach stemming from occupant/user expectations, pressures on environmental and social performance, and greater needs for physical and network security," says Terry Fowler, regional major projects manager, Canada, for Johnson Controls. But integration can add to the cost of a project, so should not be done just for its own sake. "It's very important to de ine goals in terms of the owner's priorities. Integration can be proposed as a cost-saving measure so long as there is an in luence on all or most of the technologies involved," he says. Fowler also recommends that a "project technology vision" be created "at the earliest phases of project conceptualization." Johnson Controls is providing the security system for The Bow in Calgary. "Technology," he says, "cannot be treated as an afterthought." The practical implications of these ideas and their potential to help design teams de ine objectives and enable all stakeholders to work cohesively and effectively are underscored by some contrasting negative aspects of the traditional approach. "There has been a disconnect between disciplines, architect, mechanical, electrical," says Colin Pollard, a business development specialist at Houle Electric. The conventional bidding process tends to exacerbate the silo tendency inherent in these different, yet related, disciplines," he says. Also, despite progress, many devices are still not fully standardized either to the open-source BACnet, or LONTalk, a proprietary communications protocol. The use of software that is speci ic to the devices can address the issue, with the help of a consultant. "We need to design programming that's speci ic to the devices and equipment, so a specialized software consultant needs to be part of the team," Pollard says. Processing horsepower is also helping to expedite integration, he says. "The power of today's servers is making a major difference to a lot of systems, and there are fewer problems with bandwidth." But diplomacy, not just good software programming, may also be needed, as some of the remaining resistance to integration may have almost as much to do with territorial as with technological issues. "Some don't like the idea of sharing a platform. For example, security might worry that heating control might affect or interact with door control. The concern is baseless. It can be fully addressed with good integration. Also, networks can be operated fully independently, and supported by irewalls, etc.," Pollard says. Helping the process of integration pick up the pace is the fact that BACnet, which began development in 1987, has become widely used in the last ive years. One of the biggest advantages is that the systems, which are compatible with this ASHRAE, ANSI and ISO standard protocol, liberate designers from dependence on a single brand and allow them to mix and match brands and systems. "So it meshes well with LEED projects. It becomes easier to install and upgrade automated systems. With BACnet, you get to choose the optimum system. The original supplier is not guaranteed a contract when an upgrade is done. Instead of being forced to rely on one source, owners Automated Building Control Systems 7/13/12 10:12 AM

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