Article - February 2003
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Repackaging the Large Building Automation Industry

Repackaging the Large Building Automation Industry

Ken Sinclair,

As published in the February issue of 
under their own editorial title.

In the last few decades our industry has evolved from low visibility sub contractor supplying thermostats, dampers and valves, to our present position of partnering directly with owners to simplify, enhance and automate building operations.

It is no secret that most Control / Automation / Integration companies now negotiate directly over 50% of their work, and bid and spec is becoming less of a way of life. Our industry has grown in many directions simultaneously extending our visibility and reach. Do we grasp the significant of this rapid shift in our existing business model?

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We still approach our day-to-day business much as we have in the past, but we are a changed industry. I feel that a general overhaul is necessary and serious repackaging of us as a new industry is required. One of our major problems is that we are extremely fragmented as an industry. Although we all provide similar services, products and end results, we all provide it in a different manner. This fragmented approach sends a confusing message to the building owners, designers, and developers as to the validity and sustainability of our industry.

Communication standards such as BACnet, Lon, and TCP/IP have addressed this concern, but still our fragmented approach scares all but the bravest of building owners and developers. Groups like CABA (Continental Automated Buildings Association) are working to quantify the significant industry changes, see below.

CABA has Released its Technology Roadmap for Intelligent Buildings

On December 3, 2002, CABA and the Government of Canada officially released the Technology Roadmap (TRM) for Intelligent Buildings at CABA's 2002 Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Conference. The Technology Roadmap (TRM) for Intelligent Buildings was a collaborative $110,000 research project between industry and five federal government departments and agencies, managed by the Continental Automated Buildings Association. The project focused upon commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings, and culminated in a final report that provides an in-depth examination of intelligent buildings technologies. Download your free copy now at

This Technology Roadmap explores and explains the current status and imminent opportunities offered by the accelerating evolution and use of intelligent building technologies. The focus is on commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings, both new projects and retrofits, in a five-year time horizon.

Future Directions
Control Solutions, Inc The most successful intelligent buildings indicate that the greatest advantages come from integrating communications and ensuring that the traditional systems have the ability to intercommunicate and interoperate. A single operator interface must recognize status and control information of all available systems. The primary benefit comes from the shared space, infrastructure and operating staff. Current trends to work from home encourage remote interaction with building communications and services. These trends are being influenced by technologies and the current market situation. Construction methods and technologies are breaking down some conventional barriers. Increasing concern with environmental impacts and with security needs are market forces that influence intelligent buildings functionality. Intelligent buildings depend on the increasing reliability of secure and resilient communication infrastructures. Mobile telephones are well established, encouraging mobile communications in many other forms. This technology has value for in-building applications. For the occupants/tenants and the operators, these technologies yield substantial efficiencies. These evolving concepts will lead to intelligent building technologies that are not yet on the drawing board.

Conclusions and Recommendations
The major "actionable" conclusions and recommendations to promote intelligent buildings are: 

This Technology Roadmap recommends many actions that require co-operation, as is typical of progress in technology applications in today's world. The adoption of intelligent buildings offers major advantages, faces significant challenges, and is moving forward because of the vision and dedication of individuals and organizations.

Although this is a start, much repackaging is required to correctly create our new identity. I feel that organization as a unified industry is required to market our new capabilities, products and services directly to large building owners and developers. Glowing examples of our successfully implemented capabilities must be promoted as viable and scaleable concepts for building owners to build on.

We must reach out of our known arenas as a unified industry and carry our message to Large Building Owners and Designers through groups like BOMA  and RealComm

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