June 2007

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ConnectivityWeek / BuilConn
Chicago Report


Anto Budiardjo
President & CEO,
Clasma Events Inc.

Contributing Editor

Convergence took a significant step forward in Chicago in May 2007.

For practitioners participating this space, a great deal was uncovered in how Building-IT convergence is starting to play out; delivering real value to owners and tangible opportunities for the industry. Those who are struggling with this should now be in no doubt of its inevitability and should be searching for a role to play.

The consensus is clear; this is going to be BIG.

Buildings 2.0 - Owners want it now!

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Dave MosbyDave Mosby, Director of Facilities with the State of Missouri was voted Buildy Vision Award winner by attendees in Chicago, he said it loud and clear at the BuilConn plenary; he wants his future buildings to be Buildings 2.0. Dave was not alone; Buildings 2.0 resonates strongly with building owners as a completely new way to look at buildings, they like it and they want it now!

Key individuals from many standards organizations including oBIX, LonMark, ZigBee and NBIMS said it a different way; they are ready and willing to work towards the Buildings 2.0 vision. So did many attendees from the consulting and architect disciplines.

Buildings 2.0 was discussed at great length in many sessions during the three day event in Chicago, from clarifying the vision (initially conceived at the BuilConn in Dubai), to elaborating the true scope of its impact to all stakeholders in the building industry from owners, vendors, channel, architects, consultants, etc.

At the Cisco Connected Roundtable (sponsored also by Panduit and Liebert/Emerson), attendees were informed of Cisco’s intent to drive this market towards the new vision of Buildings 2.0. Cisco has progressed significantly with their CCRE initiative worldwide, the Roundtable provided significant insights into how this is likely to pan out.

Lookout for more on Buildings 2.0. To see the white paper, see this link.

Demand Response

Peter Kelly-DetwilerOne of the quotes of the event was by Peter Kelly-Detwiler who delivered a Keynote. He urged the audience to look at demand response as a mechanism for energy suppliers to make “a call-option on customers” at times of peak demand. This is significant as it views demand response squarely as a financial transaction around the dynamics of supply and demand of electricity. A significant one at that!

The technology to make this happen is core to BuilConn, with convergence with IT as an additional enabler as well as a mechanism to provide measurement and verification. This is an incredible Killer App, providing real value to owners, as well as providing a mechanism to promote green and sustainable energy, something that is now clearly becoming a major agenda item for major corporations, just look at how the Clinton Global Initiative is gaining support from major organizations worldwide.

For contractors and integrators, this is nothing short of an incredible AND IMMEDIATE business opportunity, to leverage their skills and relationships for Demand Response NOW!

Great Speakers

BuilConn / ConnectivityWeek has always been one of the best places to listen to great speakers, leaders in convergence and connectivity subjects in buildings, energy, M2M and technology. Chicago 2007 was no exception, with nearly 100 speakers making the lineup, for a full list please follow this link.

They keynotes in Chicago provided a high level view on connectivity from key perspectives of technology, vision and energy and sustainable energy. Todd Hawthorne from Cisco provided an updated message from Cisco, bringing their vision of sustainability issues into the CCRE initiative. It is clear from Todd’s presentation that the subject of buildings (or Real Estate as Cisco calls it) is central to their go-forward strategy.

In a most inspirational speech of the week, Bob Galvin, legendary former Chairman of Motorola and creator of the Six Sigma quality system provided the attendees with a his vision of the future. Bob envisions the creation of a perfect power system that our digital age now demands, laying down a challenge to the electricity and energy industry to enter the 21st century. Bob tied the points he made with the connectivity theme of the event, stating that connectivity is one of the core requirements of the future he sees. From anyone else this would have seemed like wishful thinking, but from Bob Galvin, who’s Motorola has changed the face communication in the past few decades, this was very inspirational, and somehow seemed very doable.

This was the start of a strong speaker lineup for the week. Session after session, speakers and panelists provided unique and valuable perspective to the core theme of connectivity within the areas of buildings, energy and technology.

To listen to Podcasts created by Energy Priorities, please see this link.

Complete Technology Landscape

While much of the discussions were about implementation, applications and ways that the industry should deliver this to building owners, technology remains a major component of BuilConn. From Web Services to security and wireless, numerous sessions discussed current thoughts and debates about how to proceed.

As always, the Web Services track on the Tuesday of ConnectivityWeek was well attended. The show-and-tell sessions provided leaders in this field an opportunity to talk about the implementation of Web Services, now being used in very large projects around the country. One such project was the State of Missouri where Gridlogix installed a system collecting 1 million data points every 15 minutes! Later that day, NBIMS provided a presentation of their vision, one that is very aligned with the BuilConn ideals and the vision of Buildings 2.0.

The inclusion of the ZigBee Expo this year proved to be a great attraction. The theme was “The Path to Applications”. Having been in standards development for a number of years, the ZigBee Alliance partnered with Clasma to focus on applications of ZigBee in commercial buildings, energy and residential markets. All sessions were very well attended. It’s worth noting also that the ZigBee Alliance won the Buildy Initiative Award.


There was a great deal of discussion about roadmaps during ConnectivityWeek in Chicago.

The well attended track on Wednesday focused on the Roadmap to Buildings 2.0 with Cisco and Gridlogix providing the foundational vision of Buildings 2.0 and Tridium and Cisco providing a technology overview of what the Buildings 2.0 technology architecture could look like. A session led by Jim Sinopoli later discussed certification that would be needed for Buildings 2.0 to become a reality; this session was supported by LonMark and CABA.

On the Friday of ConnectivityWeek, CABA organized a Town Meeting to discuss their recently completed Intelligent Building Roadmap. The discussion focused on over a dozen action items that CABA feels the industry should further to make Intelligent Buildings a reality. Looking at this list, it is clear that most of them are already being implemented during this annual event we know as BuilConn and ConnectivityWeek.

Discussions on Roadmaps are another strong indication that the industry is starting to mature, recognizing that a new dawn is arriving in how we should be providing valuable solutions to building owners. While there may be some difference in the ultimate vision and end-goals of roadmaps, and on the implementation, this is a good debate and in the end the owners will benefit, as long as we focus on the owners and not perpetuate doing things the same old way just because it’s always been done that way.

A Mature Community - Broadening the Ecosystem

What was most encouraging at BuilConn in Chicago is the maturity of the community that is now five years old. It’s good to see the same faces that have been there from the beginning and good also to see new faces that bring with them new and very strong perspectives from all corners of the buildings landscape.

From participation of NJATC, IBEW and NECA, through continued support from oBIX, LonMark, BACnet and GridWise, and new partnership with NBIMS, ZigBee and a slew of new speakers from the consulting, architecture, and owner community as well as energy players, BuilConn is building a solid ecosystem for the future of buildings.

Buildy AwardsIt was great to see Constellation New Energy as a strong supporter of BuilConn and be welcomed into the community warmly. Their role is critical if we are to leverage the enormous potential of Demand Response and green and sustainable energy. The fact that Constellation won a Buildy is an indication that their value proposition in this space was understood and very much appreciated.

Strong owners also help develop this community. For a new name like Dave Mosby to win the Buildy Vision Award is a testament that when owners are presented with the Buildings 2.0 vision, they get it, and when they communicate this to the industry, they appreciate the challenge to deliver this vision. It is clear that many more Dave Mosby’s will see the light of Buildings 2.0 and adopt it in months and years to come.

For the first time, Buildy awards went to many newcomers. In addition to the two mentioned above, ZigBee Alliance and Ember (provider of ZigBee technology) were winners indicating the strong support of standards based wireless mesh networking. The winner of the Best Building was Pacific Controls from Dubai, mainly due to its visionary approach to their building, their execution of IP based network and their awareness of energy sustainability (the building is the first Platinum LEED rated building in the Middle East).

The last (and by no means least) Buildy winner to be acknowledged was Gridlogix, a long time supporter of BuilConn, for their AEM (Automated Enterprise Management) solution.

We congratulate all this year’s Buildy winners, as well as the just deserving finalists too many to mention here.

Task list for a maturing industry

During the discussions over ConnectivityWeek in Chicago, it is becoming clear that the industry now needs to step-up and organize itself to be able to deliver this proposition to owners, tasks include:

A promising time ahead

The optimism of attendees polled at the conclusion of BuilConn in Chicago renders only one conclusion; that the opportunities surrounding the convergence of building systems and IT are real and huge.

The time is right for this market to develop rapidly in the coming 2-3 years, driven by two critical factors; firstly owner’s appreciation of an alternate and new vision (Buildings 2.0), and secondly the most urgent agenda to manage our energy usage more responsibly.

This promising vision and opportunity is not about HVAC, nor about building controls, nor building automation or intelligent buildings. This is an opportunity about reshaping how we look at buildings from top to bottom. Anything less is an injustice to building owners.


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