Award winning manufacturer of IT-based building automation.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Trevor Palmer and Ken Sinclair
Palmer, VP Controls, Applications & User Experience, Acuity Brands,
For more than 20 years, Trevor Palmer has brought innovative concepts
management know-how to the industry, having held leadership roles in
contracting, manufacturing and technical sales. Recognized as a
building automation expert throughout North America and Europe, Trevor
is instrumental in positioning Distech Controls as an industry leader
in building automation technologies, while guiding the company’s
strategic development, market expansion, and product line
the Two Domains
By merging the two domains, we have a robust network of permanently powered devices which we can leverage as a communication network.
LED’s make the story even better; as these devices are intelligent, carrying their in-built processors which can do more than simply drive the LED.
Sinclair: Trevor, it has been some time since we last spoke; a lot has transpired within the industry regarding acquisitions and consolidation in general.What can you tell us about the Distech Controls acquisition and how it will benefit building owners and occupants?
Palmer: Ken, it has been some time since our last interview. There have been a lot of changes in the industry in general over the past two years; we are poised for more of the same I am sure. It is certainly an exciting time for all of us involved in developing and deploying these systems.
The advantages of bringing lighting and
traditional HVAC control together have always been obvious. These
domains control more than 60% of the energy bill an owner is exposed to
monthly, moreover and beyond just the energy story they directly impact
the comfort of the occupant in every space of the building.
We have heard a lot about the
conversion to LED and away from the more traditional, what effect has
this had on the total value proposition?
Palmer: Lighting is pervasive; where there is
light, there is power, a struggle when you are architecting control
networks using traditional means or adding more complex technology to
reduce installed cost like wireless radios. By merging the two domains,
we have a robust network of permanently powered devices which we can
leverage as a communication network.
LED’s make the story even better; as these devices are intelligent, carrying their in-built processors which can do more than simply drive the LED. They are excellent candidates for in-built luminaire control and since lighting is everywhere in a facility a great host for sensors in general to perform other building tasks. With this, lighting is becoming the host for a greater amount of data for the building system to act upon, not only for traditional energy functions but others also.
Sinclair: What you are saying is that we are moving beyond the traditional Energy Savings and Building Management System?
Palmer: Precisely Ken. If you think back to just a few years ago, as a business, we were selling energy management or comfort control. This is just one aspect of the operational cost of running a facility. With these new Unified Systems, we can do more than drive energy cost down; we have the opportunity to enhance the occupant experience within the space, making them more productive.
If you think about a facility manager,
the systems within the building, the different tools they must learn,
systems they need to service and training for each, putting these
systems on the same platform and interacting with the system using a
single user interface also drive operational costs down and simplifies
the life of this persona. Moreover, the networks become more
simplistic, using less network and field devices for the installation,
this drives down the initial capital cost of the facility.
Sinclair: Unifying building systems makes sense – tell me more about the occupant experience and how this will evolve?
Palmer: Ken, we are seeing an increased focus on the user interface for the building, not only on a PC sitting in some closet but front and center on each device within the facility. Consumer devices such as smartphones are driving this expectation for manufacturers.
When we think about the services we
offered in a building in the past, the interfaces were relatively
simplistic; a light switch, a thermostat for example. These devices
were geared towards the services we provided.
With the data, we can gather from the
facility we can do so much more.
For example, with a combined lighting
and HVAC controls system and their respective network, we have
information on occupancy, temperature, CO2, light levels in all spaces.
If we were to select just one, occupancy, for example, we could use
this information for other things like how often a room is occupied or
is the room occupied now? This information rendered properly is useful
for property management folks and occupants. Property managers want to
know how much space am I using versus what I have now.
The occupant of a space may want to
schedule a meeting. When doing so, an indicator in real time of what
the occupancy state is currently will assist in more efficiently
planning the space.
Both examples are relatively simplistic
use cases, which have little to do with saving energy, but more to do
with the user experience within the facility.
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