July 2009


Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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Cisco's Mediator
Helps Buildings Reduce Energy Use with Internet Intelligence

Michael Bordenaro
Michael Bordenaro,
BIM Education Co-op

In this first of a series of articles, Cisco's recently released Mediator is explained and reviewed to assist Automated Building readers gain the most opportunities from the potential wide-spread deployment of this energized and expanded control device.

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Cisco Systems brought us the router that launched the Internet explosion. It is now bringing us the  Cisco® Network Building Mediator, which is poised to launch the building industry onto the Internet in ways that will revolutionize this ancient industry.

And none too soon! 

Building industry inefficiencies are the largest contributors to energy waste, misuse of material resources, loss of manpower productivity . . . and the biggest opportunity to resolve the world of problems facing humanity. 

Everyone understands the concept of home. Most people understand the concept of home systems – heating, cooling, telecommunications, security, entertainment.  

When the majority of our home systems – and the home systems of our businesses, governments and institutions - are intelligently connected via the Internet, we will have a greater opportunity to reduce the wasted energy and wasted material and wasted productivity that is plaguing the building industry and our world. 

Cisco Network Building Mediator 2400 Through it's Smart+Connected Communities market group, Cisco is using the Mediator to launch it's highly focused Smart Connected Buildings group. With buildings as the core energy consumer in our communities, the Mediator is poised to have a calming effect on large-scale carbon foot prints and enterprise-controlled reduction in waste. 

The Mediator can send and receive data from 75 building system protocols, normalize the data and exchange it in XML/SOAP format over the Internet. But it can not save the world. 

It is the responsibility of industry professionals to connect buildings to the Internet by configuring devices, such as the Mediator, to route, or mediate, building systems information to the appropriate experts for improved consensus decision making as intended by the product's inventor, Ed Richards. Richards-Zeta is the company that developed the Mediator in 2001 and refined it for eight years before being purchased by Cisco in January 2009.  

The Mediator is now repackaged and ready for rapid and extensive deployment throughout the international building industry, which is ready to catch the XML data in web-based Building Information Model software.  

Building Information Model software has been slowly usurping Computer Aided Design software and is maturing to the point where live building system XML data from the Mediator can be received and processed to provide real time information represented in models on Google Earth. 

In simple terms, you can look at a Building Information Model of your office building on Google Earth and see if you turned off the lights in your office. If configured properly, you could then turn off the light if it was still on.

In complex terms, city managers can more easily see if peak load conditions are approaching and recommend shutting down the first level of non-essential equipment in an energy grid sector. But that is getting ahead of the story.

Reliable Controls The realistic benefit of the Mediator is the opportunity for large building owners to better understand the many issues related to their total energy use in ways that have been very difficult previously. While Richards-Zeta was able to provide high-level of service to key clients, such as Google, they could not realistically meet the requirements of a large single client such as the U.S. Army or the State of California. With the Mediator under the appropriate stewardship of Cisco Systems, it is possible to imagine large building owners accumulating accurate, real-time, enterprise-wide data needed to make better decisions based on real time data from the majority of their building system, not educated guesses.  

There is a growing emergence of web-based Building Information Model software, such as the ONUMA Planning System, EPM, Tokmo and Google Earth, ready to “catch” the XML data and make it clear and understandable to decision makers who are not experts in building systems. 

Combined, the internationally supported Mediator hardware and web-based Building Information Model software is now ready to help increase building industry productivity and potentially reduce energy and material resource waste with accurate information distributed and represented in real time for more informed energy decision making.

About the Author 

Michael Bordenaro is the Co-founder of the BIM Education Co-op, which aims to accelerate understanding and adoption of Building Information Model software and processes that he sees will be greatly aided by information flowing to and from the Mediator.


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