February 2012

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Building Automation Trends in Large Buildings in 2012

IMS Research has made the following predictions for 2012 and beyond, to provide some guidance on the key trends and opportunities in each of these areas.

William Rhodes

William Rhodes
Market Analyst
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IMS Research has made the following predictions for 2012 and beyond, to provide some guidance on the key trends and opportunities in each of these areas. We hope you find them useful in planning for the year ahead.

Skies the Limit for Building Automation in the Cloud

Cloud computing is a major buzzword in IT circles. Hosted services are becoming a widely used part of everyday life, with individuals regularly using services such as Facebook, Gmail and Twitter, without realising they are doing so through the cloud. With this level of hype, it is not surprising that hosted building automation solutions are also gaining attention.

IMS Research predicts the two main forms of cloud based building automation solutions will be hosted building management software (BMS) and cloud based active management analytics.

Hosted BMS allows users to remotely administer and manage their system through an internet browser. Facilities managers and other users can access the features and functionality of their system from anywhere in the world, from any device with an internet connection. The building automation software as a service (SaaS) model is likely to have the greatest pick up for users with a portfolio of buildings spread over a wide geographic area. From a central location, the energy performance of each building in the portfolio can be compared.

Active management analytics allows building owners, facilities managers and others to continuously commission their buildings. Active management compares real-time data against the potential performance of the building given the weather conditions around the building and the orientation of the building. Rather than wait to the end of a quarter or month to receive a bill; owners, facility managers and other users can actively impact their energy consumption on an hourly or daily basis.

2012 could likely be the year many of these types of solutions turn from hype in the industry to real revenue growth. 2012 could also be the year where continuous commissioning of building automation systems gain support by regulations such as ISO 50001.

Dashboards and Certification Promotes Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency remains a priority for many companies, governments and individuals. In September 2011, an S&P 500 report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) suggested that most large US companies recognise the opportunity to gain a strategic advantage from acting to address climate change. Part of the commitment to energy efficiency is reducing energy consumption within buildings. Building automation solutions are an important tool in this process.

With greater emphasis on improving energy efficiency, 2012 could see energy savings becoming a standard key performance indicator for facility management service companies. Rather than pay a management company purely on the size of the property, payments based on energy consumption performance could become more common. Analysing real time data on the building can highlight energy waste and ensure efforts are made towards a more efficient performance. At the recent AHR Expo in Chicago, IL, a number of vendors demonstrated visualisation and advanced dashboard technologies including companies such as DG Logik, Iconics, J2 Innovations and Activelogik. This software can be used by facilities mangers or management service companies to view real time information on the building, enabling them to make key decisions towards improving energy efficiency.

Awards and certifications are also gaining traction in the market. In 2011, many building owners and managers made improvements to the indoor environment of their buildings to gain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or other certifications. Additionally, the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) hosted the first Building Intelligence Quotient (BiQ) awards at its Intelligent and Integrated Buildings Council (IIBC) meeting in Chicago, on the 24th January. These awards celebrated a number of buildings that scored highly on its BiQ tool.

Building owners have an incentive to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings to save money. However, many owners also have an incentive to demonstrate the energy efficiency of their building to become more attractive to potential renters, or charge a higher rent. The trend towards obtaining building certification is likely to continue well into 2012 and beyond.

Video Surveillance Gives Eyes to the Building Automation System

Reliable Controls Integrating video surveillance with building automation is nothing new, made evident by an ASHRAE published article in 2004 about the two systems being integrated. Historically, this integration has centred on the video surveillance being used in conjunction with HVAC systems to aid with maintenance or detection of water leaks. However, a new application of video surveillance integration is beginning to gain mind share, if not quite market share, in 2012.

So far, the most simplistic systems have used motion detection within security cameras to identify if the room is occupied or not. The room can then be heated or cooled dependent on occupancy. However, more complex systems are now using video analytics, either embedded on the security cameras or centrally on a server, to count the number of occupants in the room. This information is then fed back into the building automation system which can either heat or cool the room. Furthermore, by knowing the number of people in a room, the building automation system can ventilate appropriately and efficiently, rather than ventilate for the maximum capacity of the space.

When security cameras are used to determine occupancy, they would be used as a replacement for PIR, occupancy or CO2 sensors which are traditionally used in buildings to determine occupancy. One of the inhibitors to this new application for both security cameras and video analytics is that, generally speaking, a PIR or CO2 sensor solution is less expensive. However, if the security camera is already installed in the building, or is being installed as part of a wider surveillance solution, using this sunk cost to also determine occupancy could be more cost effective than installing additional sensors.

IMS Research estimated that there was over 2.1 million air quality and occupation sensors sold in building automation systems in 2011. Although this number is forecast to grow, there will likely be an increased use of security cameras in building automation systems over the next 12 months, capturing share from traditional sensor technologies. Although the cost of traditional building automation sensors is less, there will certainly be applications where using the existing security cameras has its benefits.  However, for security cameras integrated with building automation systems to gain significant traction, integrators and installers will need to understand both solutions and the separate communication systems and this will take time.


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