Smart building systems optimization

Integration and interoperability in smart buildings enhance value and reduce risks for the building owner.


Learning Objectives

  • Understand that converged knowledge and data management is key to optimizing the performance of systems and building occupants.
  • Know that integrated systems migration and convergence is subject to cost-benefit and quality assurance analyses.
  • Outline best practices to make prudent decisions, enhance value, and reduce risk in smart building applications.

For an automation and integration plan to encompass a holistic solution, each technical design and engineering discipline needs to be committed to the goal of improving the way the building operates and the way the resultant information is prioritized to maximize efficiencies.

Each designer needs to begin by discussing and evaluating process outcomes. These discussions will enable each participant to identify needs and resources to deliver increased autonomous responses to improve safety and increase energy efficiency while reducing personnel interaction for common processes by automatically selecting appropriate responses based on historical data. This effort will improve overall building performance and operational efficiency.

Figure 1: Connected devices in a smart building are made more efficient by Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality, which reduces costs by providing digital data and power over a single cable to many devices. All graphics courtesy: CannonDesign  Recommendations from stakeholders are vital and can provide a significant return for real-time process control, which will likely create the largest increase in end-user satisfaction. To do this, each member of the design team needs to identify the standard inputs and outputs of each system they are responsible for as part of the system-integration matrix. It is then up to each member to review the matrix and try to determine the best ways that each system output can be used by the system that they are designing. In doing this, they may be saving steps for another system, providing a check on the operation of another system, or allowing the elimination of the programming of another system altogether.

For instance, in a health care facility, staff-assist buttons at patient beds typically alarm the nurse call station at the local unit and provide a local audio/visual alarm at the patient room dome light. However, incorporating this into the real-time locating system (RTLS) can track staff throughout the building-and will allow the system to directly page or alert staff in the immediate area and query a response so that other caregivers can remain at their positions and not disrupt care. Reporting the response of these events is completed automatically eliminating the staffs' need to manually record the event.

Building decisions can no longer be made based on stand-alone systems. Conventional isolated systems were installed and configured for optimization based on their own parameters and needs; often times duplicating programming and information. As systems advanced, it became common for each legacy solution to control and operate proprietary devices, which simultaneously increased first costs and energy costs while marginally improving the overall performance of the individual systems.

Building systems continued to advance and move toward standardized Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure and communication protocols, increasing functionality between systems. The increased interoperability was partly due to the release of the American National Standards Institute/Telecommunications Industry Association (ANSI/TIA) - 862-A Building Automation Systems Cabling (March 2011) and, more recently, TIA-862-B: Structured Cabling Infrastructure Standard for Intelligent Building Systems. Using the IP network as a platform allowed for standardized devices, which exploded onto the market and onto the building data network.

These connected devices are made more efficient by Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality, which reduces costs by providing digital data and power over a single cable to many devices. These devices include voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephone handsets, video surveillance cameras, PoE locksets, wireless access points, and integrated sensors.

The conventional systems began to make way for integrated systems as the cost-effectiveness of third-party devices improved communications and lifecycle costs. Through this transition, these solutions created a migration path for shared databases and resources as well as integrated management, allowing systems and resources to converge onto a single platform using shared servers and cloud-based computing.

With multiple systems sharing computing resources, cybersecurity is imperative in system implementation. Well-publicized security breaches in high-profile data networks were achieved through management/control ports into building systems. In addition, individual devices have been found to be a security threat to the very networks or buildings they intend to improve.

These integrated systems are providing additional information to understand the building-performance metrics to maximize the return on investment (ROI) of the building systems. To obtain these enhanced system performances, the building systems need to communicate to gain system efficiencies and savings. This reporting simplifies management and reduces downtime. Oversimplification of the coordination required for integration can lead to potential issues between system providers and/or manufacturers and the potential issues with the resultant labor costs for providing the integration.

A responsibility matrix is an efficient tool for identifying the individual providers for each step of the integration process. It outlines responsibilities for each step in the process-such as specifier, provider, programmer, installer-and resultant outcomes to individual devices.

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