February 2008

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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REALIGNING Where People, Space, Time and Energy Interact
Enabling integration between enterprise software and building systems is only part of the solution. Data presentation, reporting, security, and adherence to current IT standards are the other keys.

John Greenwell, President

Have you ever wondered what effect occupancy has on your facility? Do you know if your business processes lead or follow your facility’s systems? Building systems waste lots of energy because they don’t respond to people and to business processes. Buildings should be responsive to their occupants and the environment. Building Automation Systems (BAS) and other infrastructure systems do a good job of automating the systems in the building but fall short when it comes to the business processes.

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How can you make the experience of visiting and working in a building better? How do we realign People, Space, Time, and Energy in a building? Building systems are silos for good reasons: each does a great job at a specific task, and each needs to work well even when another fails. So how can facilities managers expand the capabilities of existing systems without creating fragile connections?

Building Services PortalWe have been asking these questions at Continental Electric for over three years now. CEPORT BSP is a patent-pending, platform- and technology- agnostic building services portal designed to manage the convergence of People, Space, Time and Energy.

The key is to align a building system with its occupants and business processes, resulting in a more productive work environment and energy-efficient operation. Providing loosely coupled services to systems throughout the facility in order to extend their functionality without creating a complex and fragile system is essential. Enabling integration between enterprise software and building systems is only part of the solution. Data presentation, reporting, security, and adherence to current IT standards are the other keys. Adapting to the occupants’ IT security infrastructure is the only way to ensure acceptance. Support single / reduced sign-on so that users are not burdened by multiple logins to access the system. Corporate IT departments will have specific requirements, so being flexible and prepared to deploy on any platform will avoid common barriers to entry. If you’re going to access and store corporate enterprise data, your system must be as secure as the systems it accesses. Allowing custom business rules to be defined and executed based on calendar, events or time can facilitate interaction between disparate systems.

With energy cost skyrocketing, "demand response" will become commonplace. What is the appropriate response given the current building status? That decision needs to be based on data collected from all systems in the building. Provide a service wrapper for the systems in the building, and they can monitor each other and take action on their own. An enterprise-class reporting and BI engine will provide a way to validate energy and operational data by creating professionally crafted reports. Reports should be available via printer or email and published to CMSs and subscription lists. Using common internet search tools and terms to find predefined reports is a natural and unobtrusive way for C-level executives to find critical performance data.

Space UtilizationAt Continental, we are testing and deploying our solution on top of our own headquarters’ building systems in Skokie, Illinois, but larger and smaller buildings or companies will all see the value in true building integration. The need for a one-size-fits-all product is inherent to the market’s mode of development. We believe a truly integrative BSP will scale to any building size, with any client configuration, because every building must interact with People, Space, Time, and Energy.

Some examples of modules currently in development include:

AWS (alternative work spaces) or Hotelling
An AWS module that is fully integrated with card access, BAS, lighting, VOIP, and HR can provide a rich yet simple reservation experience. A kiosk interface will be designed for ease of use, to get you the information you need in less than 15 seconds. Using context-sensitive location routing, your AWS module will track utilization for reporting. It will facilitate LEED certification, for example, by being capable of directing employees to specific areas after hours or on weekends to minimize energy usage.

Where else do People, Space, Time, and Energy interact? In travel. A building can actually facilitate carpooling via a BSP module that utilizes a simple enrolment process, integrated with the HR and card access systems. Users’ origin locations and arrival /departure times can be automatically populated and compared. Simple and flexible options will be available for selecting personal preferences.

contemporary Conference Room Reservations
Another BSP module that will help the building work more closely with business processes is one that adds extended functionality to the reservation systems already in use. Whether you use Outlook or Notes or a web-based system, your IT department shouldn’t need to use APIs to add catering, A/V requests, furniture changes, climate profiles, and other meeting characteristics, depending on processes you already use. Better yet, it will enable processes and utilization reporting you have always wanted to put into place but have never had the capability to implement.

Building Event Communication
Companywide gatherings, security emergencies, and weather closures are the kind of events that stretch the limits of business processes and human patience. A BSP module that enables communication and tracking of these events and their accompanying system needs is vital to predicting and resolving public concerns in these areas. Ideally, a single-entry interface will automatically propagate data to the appropriate personnel and systems in the building. It will even socialize your corporate ecological efforts by publishing LEED data to kiosks or your CMS, earning you LEED education points.

Builders and tenants everywhere are aware of the balance needed between the “smart buildings” of the future and the reliable systems of the past and present. A building services portal that can achieve that balance, servicing people and responding to business processes to create greater efficiency of space, time, and energy, should be every integrator’s goal.

Special thanks to Toby Considine for our tag line, “Convergence of People, Space, Time and Energy”.

CEPORT, LLC is an affiliate of the Continental Electrical Construction Company, LLC 


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