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Integrating building automation technology can have a number of benefits, both tangible and intangible, as Steve Montgomery discovers

The KNX installation at La Marquise in Rhodes, Greece is used to integrate the lighting, solar shading, air conditioning, audio/video and alarm systems, and to monitor the equipment, for maximum efficiency, safety, security, comfort and convenience


TECHNOLOGY HAS rapidly been incorporated into all electromechanical devices in all walks of life: from cars and phones to TVs. Building control devices have not escaped this trend; as heating, ventilation and air- conditioning (HVAC) plant , fire and access controllers, lighting and sunshades become ‘intelligent’ and connected. At the same time, audiovisual systems have become more automated and linked to other functions within offices, shops and commercial buildings. How do the two segments interact? Is there a common network or protocol that binds everything together, and how does the AV integrator take advantage of, and interact with, other suppliers and systems? That there is a demand for

integrated building services controlled in a highly efficient manner is beyond doubt. With carbon footprint and energy costs to the fore, building facilities managers are aware of the financial and environmental savings that

28 February 2013

can be made by fine control of heating, lighting and other services. The savings in energy costs are quantifiable and payback can be measured easily; at the same time, benefits to corporate reputation are large and immeasurable. STEP, the Sustainable Technology Environments Program, is attempting to specifically address the approach to the sustainable planning, design, integration and operation of low-voltage building and communication technologies. However, other rating systems, like the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and organisations such as the International Code Council (ICC), Green Globes and ASHRAE, do not. Several providers of

building service systems have developed software packages that will help manage a building. One such is leading management consultancy Accenture. Rajesh Sinha, director, smart building and energy-

Building services are becoming smarter as energy saving and environmental considerations become more important

The core services of HVAC, lighting, shading, security and access control are already connected and managed centrally

The most popular bus- based network for building services in Europe is KNX

Audiovisual system control should be considered as an add-on to the main building services system rather than the core of a new system

efficiency solutions, explains the company’s involvement: “We have developed tools that can integrate building and energy systems to work order management systems and other applications that can provide detailed analytics and ongoing monitoring and management of building and equipment performance. Through straightforward changes to buildings operation and through the use of smart technologies and analytics, savings of up to 35% are achievable.”

Client needs must be considered very carefully to understand how a building is expected to operate

Cloud technology is beginning to be used to manage global portfolios of buildings from a single point

SMART SAVINGS There are deeper benefits and savings to be achieved: “Buildings with smart systems can identify, and often correct, potential issues without human involvement and help on-site staff diagnose problems,” points out Craig Bloomfield, vice president at global real estate services business Jones Lang LaSalle. “With real-time monitoring and control of energy use, air quality and other building functions, systems can adjust to changes in weather,

occupancy and equipment conditions, saving energy and extending equipment life as well as making staff more productive. The new generation of automation technology recalibrates building systems on a continuous basis. Today, meters and sensors on equipment provide a wider range of information, analysed by more sophisticated software that uses algorithms to detect when a piece of equipment may not be working at peak performance.”

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