May 2009

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Reinventing Building Automation

Track Leader: Ken Sinclair

On June 9, 2009 I will be in Santa Clara California over seeing the presentation
 of several sessions on the reinvention of building automation.

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Although I did not invent Building Automation, I was there when it happened. I saw hardwired logic machines give way to a mini computer with dumb panels and in 1975 was involved with a evolutionary, possibly the first distributed computerized Direct Digital Control project for a large University Campus. We used DDC ideas from cement mixing plants and glass making installations. I was lucky to be part of this project that was installed in a large campus buildings pure DDC without any conventional controls. Radical thinking at the time.

The computers were as big as refrigerators, the stand alone panels not much smaller with our own system analyst and a team of code monkeys, plus we created and build most of our own software and sensors as most end devices had not been invented yet or were too costly. We were replacing an early mini computer system that reset pneumatic and had never achieved stated performance.

After this project was up and running, I moved to the Wet Coast of Canada where a new DDC industry had turned to micro processors cutting cost and greatly increasing functionally. I grew up on the top of the wave that was the DDC revolution. Being part of those teams that created extremely interesting leading edge systems spawned many life mentors for me.

Over 10 years ago I created to explore online the relationship DDC revolution would have with the web revolution. I am pleased to be at Santa Clara in the silicon valley to lead this track on our reinvention revolution. So enough of the war stories, we are here today to talk about our reinvention.

ConnectivityWeek 2009 June 8,

Reinventing Building Automation

Building Automation is evolving to be a web service that presents and connects our traditional industry to the new evolving enterprise energy, economical, and environmental equation. We must achieve more with less human and natural resources while providing better services. Our present economical situation demands this.

Evolving the Reach of our Reinvention

BIM, evolving ASHRAE energy standards and their adoption, the green building movement, LEED etc are all rapidly forcing the reinvention of Building Automation. Solutions that provide wireless connections to devices of our past now get coupled with open source enterprise thinking and IT network standards. Lighting and its control are an integrated part of this reinvention.

 I am very pleased to have as a panelist Gordon Holness President Elect of ASHRAE

Here is some insight into his comments on Reinventing BAS.

ASHRAE is working on a wide range of green initiatives to support our efforts towards net zero energy buildings – Advanced Energy Design Guides, improvements to Energy Efficiency Standard 90.1, a new High Performance Green Building Standard 189.1, a BIM Manual, an IBD Manual, etc. We are also working with USGBC in many of these areas and by providing technical support behind LEED 2009.  All of these initiatives will require more sophisticated BAS controls including those for day lighting, artificial lighting systems, natural ventilation, and IAQ control. These controls must become more intuitive, informative, self calibrating, diagnosing and repairing, if we expect consumers to support development of SMART Buildings. 

Sim, Harry (Cypress Envirosystems) as Panelist

When we think of intelligent buildings, web enabled energy management, automated demand response...we usually think of new modern buildings with the latest Building Automation technologies.

Unfortunately, the majority of our built environment does not fit that description. In fact, most older buildings have lots of manual equipment like pneumatic thermostats, steam traps, dial gauges, analog indicators, etc. These types of equipment typically require more manual maintenance, waste energy, incur higher downtime and are more difficult to troubleshoot.

How can we enable the very large and old built environment to enjoy the benefits of "intelligent buildings", but without incurring huge costs and disruption? 

New technologies and products introduced in the past year enable building operators to accomplish such retrofits much faster and at much lower cost, and possibly qualify for utility company incentives as well.

Poskevich, Ron (Lumisys) as Panelist

Accountegration – A Better Way to Integrate 

In spite of open protocols integrating lighting control with the building automation system (BAS) has been a game of chance with very poor odds.  In fact, an industry survey of large and small BAS companies revealed that less than 6% of all BAS installations control any lighting.  The primary reason for these meager results is the fragmentation of accountability.  Fortunately there is a simple solution called Accountegration. 

What is Accountegration?

Accountegration is the alignment of accountability with core competencies to substantially reduce risk, foster better competition, and increase the economic benefit for integrated lighting solutions.  By aligning accountability with each participant’s core competencies everyone is put into to position to succeed.  

In simpler terms, when lighting control is to be integrated into the building automation system, lighting control should be provided by the BAS controls contractor and installed by the electrical contractor.  This change fundamentally moves the expertise and accountability to those that are in the best position to deliver a sustainable, integrated solution. 

Eliminate Integration Uncertainty

Using the Accountegration methodology of specification, the BAS control contractor chooses a lighting control system proven to interoperate with their equipment and includes that system in their bid effectively eliminating integration uncertainty. Likewise, the electrical contractor develops their bid knowing that they are clearly responsible for installing the lighting control system and ensuring electrical power and connectivity to the lighting. The designer can easily, confidently and clearly specify that the lighting control system is provided by the BAS control contractor and is installed by the electrical contractor. The owner gets an integrated energy management system that is sustainable and maximizes the return on their investment. 

Green and Intelligent Buildings

Accountegration also aligns well with recent trends in green and intelligent building market; a trend toward a more holistic approach to building performance.  Green and intelligent building performance expectations are moving lighting and HVAC control sequences of operation closer together.  This is especially true with new ASHRAE 90.1 and LEED standards.  To support this market transformation there must be local system experts to assist the design community in achieving an integrated solution. 

Additional Benefits

Clearly Accountegration addresses integration uncertainty which eliminates a risk premium, but there is much more to consider.  Accountegration can also eliminate the need for a separate lighting control system network.  By placing the provision of lighting control within the BAS scope of work, the BAS network can be leveraged, providing substantial wiring and labor savings for the owner.  

Accountegration provides a single point of accountability for integration issues.  When a problem arises or the specification is not being met, the BAS controls contractor is the single point of accountability.  The result is fewer project delays and it eliminates the finger pointing that is prevalent in a fragmented process.  


For over two decades lighting control has typically been implemented as a stand-alone system because integration through a fragmented approach predictably fails. This is in spite of the fact that; building owners want an integrated system, open protocols have been widely available for over a decade, and lighting is the single largest electrical load in most commercial buildings. Fortunately, the problem is not the technology, the lack of demand or the people involved; rather it is the process.  The time has come to integrate not just the technologies, but the design-build process itself.

Horton, Matt (Cyrus Technologies, Inc.) as Panelist  - abstract not received by time of press

Business Opportunities within BA Reinvention

Reynolds, Terrence (Control Technologies) as Session Manager
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Reinvention allows us to view everything from a new perspective. These new perspectives create incredible opportunities for innovation in our evolving new business model. This session will explore the new businesses of reinvention.

Huettel, George (Cyrus Technologies, Inc.) as Panelist
Potter, Tim (Advanced Building Solutions Inc.) as Panelist
Reynolds, Terrence (Control Technologies) as Panelist
Considine, Toby (TC9)
 as Moderator

For more insight be sure to  read Terry's article - Pain, Tipping, and Leverage   Terrence Reynolds, PE Control Technologies

The Future of our Reinvention

Scholten, Anno (NovusEdge Inc.) as Session Manager
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Our buildings must be green, but present a financial blue bottom line of sustainable connected real estate. Trend is to use the BA as a remote commissioning tool. This allows online web services to be connected to continually optimize and commission. Low cost camera technology allows remote viewing of critical equipment. The power of enterprise languages such as XML coupled with a movement to Open Source software solutions is fueling our reinvention.

Carswell, Dave (Ziphany) as Panelist
Richards, Edmund (Cisco) as Panelist
Scholten, Anno (NovusEdge Inc.)
 as Chair

All programs are evolving as we go to press here is the latest

Connectivity Workshops

June 8, 2009 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Energy Management 2.0

Plus just in

Dear Ken,

Wonder if you would care to manage one more session, at the end of the event. One that I've called "Future of Buildings Roundtable". The idea is to get half dozen people to discuss what happened at BuilConn / ConnectivityWeek and brainstorm what to do next.

Please join me and become reinvented in Santa Clara


The S4 Group
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