Article - September 2003
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John Houston
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Wildwood Public Relations Ltd

Case Study

Tridium Drives Successful Multi-bus Integration at ABB's Intelligent HQ

Tridium - the open framework specialist for building automation systems - has completed a significant project at Cityport, the corporate headquarters of industrial giant ABB in Zurich, Switzerland. Tridium's NIAGARA FrameworkTM has quickly and successfully connected a complex range of building services equipment on independent BACNET, EIB and LONWORKS control bus networks into one integrated, web-based control environment. This has enabled ABB to develop Cityport as a showcase "smart" building development for its own Performance Buildings concept, bringing major building control interoperability advantages, fast and easy remote, web-enabled accessibility and the capability for simple system extension in the future.

Constructed to consolidate seven different ABB office locations into one building, Cityport is a five storey building, covering 11,000m2 and including 44 state of the art, intelligent conference rooms. Thanks to Tridium's NIAGARA FrameworkTM and ABB's own IndustrialIT software, all functional areas of the building are connected to each other through a web-based architecture on a standardised IT platform. The result is a highly integrated Performance Building which redefines the scope of commercial building control beyond heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, telephones and elevators to include processes and applications for all support functions from catering to visitor management.

Niagara System Architecture at Cityport

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ABB recognised that building services sub-system integration alone presented a key challenge to this open vision. The BACNET protocol is used to communicate with the control station of the basic part of the building while lighting, blinds, curtains and window control for each room are controlled through a network using the EIB bus. Meanwhile, the building's heating and cooling via VAV terminal units is regulated over a LONWORKS control network. However, by converting all these control devices into software "objects" and using Tridium developed drivers, Tridium's Niagara FrameworkTM talks to each controller using its native protocol and respective network in one common, distributed and genuinely open environment, irrespective of controller type and manufacturer, and without the need for special gateways.

The Tridium FrameworkTM also allows control system access via any standard web browser. Graphical information is served up as HTML pages to ensure that all supervisory actions, such as monitoring, adjusting, archiving data and maintaining equipment on these different sub-systems, can take place from any PC on the ABB intranet, so avoiding the need for expensive BMS supervisory software. More than this, the distributed web-based architecture of the Tridium controlled and networked sub-systems, contributes to Cityport's communications power, by allowing integration with other web-based applications and sub-systems in the building. At Cityport these other web services include personal electronic agenda, room reservation system, visitor announcement, access control, telephony, catering order fulfilment, audio visual equipment control and ERP invoicing.

This level of web-based integration is fundamental to ABB's Performance Building concept. For example, an ABB employee can use Lotus Notes to book one of Cityport's conference rooms, invite participants, send them agendas, book out of town visitor's accommodation, arrange their access to the building and specify occupancy comfort conditions for this room all within minutes instead of the processes taking hours or days. In a Performance Building, like Cityport, the various sub-systems all co-operate seamlessly to take care of these and other tasks. This level of integration can also save energy in many ways with, for example, window blinds being automatically adjusted to regulate heating or cooling in a room rather than through mechanical plant activation.

"The Tridium solution has provided us with a fully open, web-based system architecture which is easy to access and control and allows straightforward integration of almost any building services equipment, whether it's controller uses the BACNET, EIB or LONWORKS protocol" says Roland Sutter at ABB Installationen AG. "At the same time, the Niagara architecture fits perfectly with the web-based services which are the communications backbone of the Performance Building approach. At Cityport, this concept is working well, adding value to ABB's operations, by saving time, hassle and money in many everyday business activities".

The Niagara FrameworkTM is embedded with eight Tridium JACE control units installed throughout the building, with one unit allocated to serve control devices on each floor. The control system was engineered via a web-browser, supporting multiple access and parallel binding locations, and can be adapted or extended to accommodate new controllers quickly and easily in the same way in the future.

Tridium is a US based privately held company with their European headquarters in Buckinghamshire. The company has established key strategic alliances with leading corporations in the energy services, building automation and data management industries. Tridium markets its Framework solutions to a wide range of controls manufacturers, HVAC equipment manufacturers, and a network of Tridium Systems Integrators. Additional information about Tridium is available at

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