August 2005

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
(Click Message to Learn More)

Growing Greener Buildings with Automation

Growing Greener Buildings with Automation 
Ken Sinclair,

 What’s The Role For Advanced Technologies In Green Building Design?
Thomas Hartman, P.E. The Hartman Company

What Is An Intelligent Building?
Paul Ehrlich, P.E. Building Intelligence Group

Content provided for August issue

Growing greener buildings is not a new concept.  In September 2003, I presented a paper at the Worldwide CIBSE/ASHRAE gathering of the building services industry in Edinburgh, Scotland. The conference addressed the issue of delivering sustainable buildings while remaining profitable and delivering value to clients. My paper was titled “The Greening of Buildings with Computerized Web Enabled Automation,” and an excerpt follows:

“Opportunities arrive daily to intelligently use building automation as more than just a connector of ‘brute force’ comfort generation systems. To realize this renaissance, the building automation industry must become part of the globally expanding green building movement and show how improved occupant/architectural interaction can enhance environment-friendly buildings. Using evolving automation, we can bring passive designs alive with the necessary missing ingredient ‘intelligent interaction.’

“The low energy impact of the original raw materials required to create the building automation systems, coupled with their potential power creates the greenest of all building materials. Automation’s capability to provide significant change with only grams of substance, and the inherent ability to be easily reconfigured to grow and adapt with the building makes it the essential backbone of leading green building design. Web-enabled building automation takes us to a higher level of interactive communication with the architectural fabric.”

"The Automator"
New Products
Past Issues

[an error occurred while processing this directive]


So, what are the new opportunities that are arriving to allow us to intelligently use building automation. I predict that GridWise™ (  will become the killer application for building automation, making all large buildings part of the electrical grid.

The GridWise Alliance is a consortium of public and private stakeholders who have joined together in a collaborative effort to provide realworld technology solutions to support the DOE’s vision of a transformed national electric system. It is an electric system that will employ new distributed “plug and play” technologies using advanced telecommunications, information, and control approaches to create a society of devices that functions as an integrated transactive system. GridWise refers to the national electricity system, information technology, networking, and the Internet. GridWise is an initiative to stimulate development and adoption of an intelligent energy system that enables more effective use of the U.S. electric system. This will result in significant opportunities for energy efficiency, but of equal importance it can result in a more reliable electric grid.

GridWise is the first of many automation strategies that will extend building automation beyond the building envelope to the community, and even to the nation and beyond.

What else?

The LEED® green building rating system, ( ), version 2.1, was promulgated to improve the environmental and economic performance of new and existing commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings.

The acceptance of many new communication and computerized concepts has radically changed the function of our large buildings. Office hotelling has allowed the sharing of expensive office buildings with an increased number of telecommunicating occupants. To manage this phenomenon effectively, coordination of everything is required, such as personal environment, phones, workstations, data links, security access, etc. Occupants also must have the ability to interact with their environment virtually. The greenest of buildings extends beyond shared office space; it includes sharing the total transportation and support infrastructures while making our residential interface more efficient.


[an error occurred while processing this directive] The CABA IIBC.The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council provides a significant resource and works to strengthen the large building automation industry through innovative technology-driven research projects.

“The IIBC is extremely pleased that both private and public sectors are actively supporting the completion of the integrated automation life cycle cost tool,” said Tom Lohner, vice president of TENG Solutions and IIBC chairman. “The task force has put significant effort in the development of the life cycle cost model. These contributions will go a long way to funding the completion of an interactive, Web-based life cycle costing tool. The industry intuitively believes that integrated and intelligent buildings have significant return on investment. Now we can prove it.”

The Intelligent Building Ranking System Task Force is developing an online tool intended to assist building owners/managers, the commercial real estate industry, and other industry stakeholders to assess the level of integrated systems within a building (a Building Intelligence Quotient [BIQ]). A comprehensive list of intelligent building criteria has been developed as well as a “ranking matrix.” The next phase of this project is to develop content detail on each line item in the matrix to be available as part of the online tool – for ease of use by all industry stakeholders.

The following and other resources can be found at

Middleware White Paper. This paper defines middleware and describes a number of case studies where middleware has provided a solution to integrate new intelligent building technology implementations with legacy systems.

Building Control Network Protocols White Paper. Communications protocols are simply a means by which different systems may communicate. They are the message formats and procedures used to transfer information, in an understandable form, from one device, or array of devices, to another. They permit products from different vendors to communicate with each other and interact to produce intelligent integrated building systems and manage and interface with these products as if the same vendor supplied them all. This paper, prepared by CABA’s IIBC Building Protocol Task Group explores four of the most common protocols used today and compares a number of the parameters that “Assist the large building industry to understand the strengths and overall features of the building control communication protocols that are available for use in designing and implementing an “intelligent building.”

Best Practices Guide for Evaluating IBT. This guide, authored by Kenneth P. Wacks, Ph.D., builds upon the Technology Roadmap for Intelligent Building Technology. This paper consists of criteria by which intelligent building technologies can be evaluated. The topics in this guide are important for various audiences, such as building owners and managers, intelligent building designers, and installers.

Building intelligence can close blinds, lower awnings, turn solar panel arrays, increase ventilation air, predict outdoor air temperature, flush urinals, lock doors, recognize identities, and turn on and off the lights. These are conventional concepts but with a little imagination we can help the green team achieve what has never been done before.

We need to reset the hinges of our conventional thoughts and think in freer terms. Much of our wisdom is based on many years of applying hardware limitations to our complex occupant interface applications. Our prior interfaces are a collection of compromises to achieve an acceptable occupant, environment, and system interface. We now have new tools and can do a better job. We need to revisit our reasons for reason and work as a new team of occupant, owner, and vendor. The industry is now freer in structure, with tools that are softer and more pliable. Together we can do a better job of occupancy integration while reducing the environmental footprint.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] As new relationships with building owners evolve, our ability to provide cost effective optimization and support services online will win us market share. Access to our assembly of online individuals will be our added value. Our collection of expertise that we are able to reach out and utilize will become a tangible asset. Our strengths will evolve into managing the complex building services requirements for the owners’ enterprises.


Growing greener buildings with Web-enabled automation will not only change our industry, it will have significant impact on how building owners approach management and optimization. The guidance of successful convergence will become a valuable art. The practitioners that can work with this new fabric and create the dynamic interface while making the myriad of complex technologies used to create this reality all but invisible will be the winners. To the companies and their artisans who move us ahead with successful demonstrations will go increased market share.

New relationships and partnering will abound. Smaller and smaller companies will provide greater impact on the industry through online interactions that become available with Web-based presentation. The concept of partnering to provide our clients’ complex requested software functionality will become common. These partnerships will lead to significant cross-pollination with complete new technologies and concepts, all of which will feed the convergence fire. New mediums for our industry such as cell phone, PDA, video, digital signage systems, etc., will be seamlessly integrated.

The reality is the convergence of facilities management and IT is well underway. It is a convergence that heralds the inevitable move of environmental monitoring and control onto the building information infrastructure. Though it is often the technological issues that are stressed, it is a convergence of both technology and the working community relationships.

The understanding of the above concepts will allow the green building practitioners to discover the true power of “growing greener application for building automation, making all large buildings part of the electrical grid.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[Click Banner To Learn More]

[Home Page]  [The Automator]  [About]  [Subscribe ]  [Contact Us]


Want Ads

Our Sponsors