May 2014

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Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

– Simplifying Building Complexities™

Patty AndersonPatty Anderson, CEO, &
Jon Sargeant, VP Technology,
Building Solutions

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‘Separating the Wheat from the Chaff’ is a challenge that many building owners are faced with when analyzing today’s technology solutions.  Simply defined, this means ‘to separate what is valuable from what is worthless’ or ‘to choose the things of high quality from those of mixed quality’.  With today’s marketplace saturation of over 100+ smart building technology solution providers and a building industry recovering from a recession, building owners have been faced with a unique challenge.  While there is an abundance of technology solutions, the recession has forced them to re-focus operational resources, staff, and budgets on their existing portfolio and legacy building systems.  The requirement of having to do more with less has a resulted in a stagnation of technology adoption and created a relational mismatch: efficient technologies versus available skilled resources.

This challenge is not going away - it is only going to become more difficult.  The IDC Energy Insights Report ‘Business Strategy: Global Smart Buildings 2014-2018 forecast’ states that “the market is expected to grow rapidly as there is increasingly broad market awareness of the business values generated by deploying smart building solutions. This global smart buildings forecast projects spending to grow from $6.3 billion in 2013 to $21.9 billion in 2018 (a 28.4% CAGR)”.  This indicates an additional growth of technology based solutions and providers, complicating the analysis and decision making process even further.

For example, a quick market evaluation breaks down many of the available product technology products, and companies providing consultation and solution implementation into two main categories:

  1. Product hadrware and software manufacturersProduct hardware and software manufacturers include:
  1. Consultation and Solution Implementation include:

Existing building infrastructure configurations have made it difficult for building owners to determine the right fit and application of new technology solutions for integration to their existing systems.  Dissemination between the value propositions proposed by product manufacturers versus the technical capabilities of the product solution is hard for owners, especially since the manufacturer has a vested interest in the sale of their particular solution.  This gap often leaves owners wanting more from the product solution, or creates a need of the product manufacturer to stretch beyond its’ core competencies and capabilities to cover the gap, limiting the owner’s ability to reach the target goal potential.   Also challenging for owners is to determine who should implement the solution, as there is a large variance between skills and price when assessing the solutions from large Fortune 500 companies versus Systems Integration companies.

Concerned about making the wrong decision, owners often choose to make no decision, even though implementing a technology solution could provide increased energy efficiency, optimization of the building systems, or improve the operational performance of their building staff by equipping them with more timely and relevant system performance analytics.  Owners are hoping the market will stabilize, allowing the strongest leaders rise to the top while the weaker technologies are absorbed or disappear, ultimately making their selection process easier.  Our research indicates while there are new entrants into the marketplace, unfortunately there is still no single system that will meet all building owners needs to combine, interpret, prioritize, and visualize critical building data – there is no magical ‘silver bullet’. 

So how are building owners making decisions today?  Sorting through the technology providers to determine core competencies, features and benefits, manufacturer support, and implementation capabilities is a daunting task.  This is due to the continuous evolution of technology and the emerging solutions coming to market.  The continuous evolution of the technology and its manufacturers, has complicated the analysis and selection of market-ready products, how they fit into the various levels of an enterprise-wide solution intended to optimize building performance, increase staff efficiency, and gain energy savings.

This complicated scenario and desire to ‘Separate the Wheat from the Chaff’ has many owners partnering with Consulting Firms and Master Systems Integrators to help define their key objectives, parse through the available solution providers, and to evaluate and recommend technical solutions aligned to meet their target goals and objectives.  This partnership is best-served by providing a neutral independent lens to help owners.  By assessing their existing building infrastructures, determining the needed product applications, identification of Return On Investment (ROI) and Net Operating Income (NOI) strategies for their portfolio creates roadmaps to enable implementation success.  Defining the correct application of technical solutions and leveraging existing assets will ensure gaps and overlaps in technology have been addressed and planned for, while enabling owners to achieve the long term goals they desire.

Introducing new technologies to an existing portfolio of building systems or even incorporating smart building design concepts on a new construction project is not as easy as specifying the use of a building automation system that communicates via open protocols.  Assessment of existing infrastructures, reviewing design criteria on new construction projects, planning and coordination with vendors and trades and confirmation of existing system configurations and procured equipment are all activities that have to be carefully orchestrated at the forefront of any project introducing any technology solution.  By employing this approach, the issues that are often uncovered during implementation or commissioning are identified up front, reducing the initial system configuration effort and implementation hurdles that require both extra time to resolve and cause owners additional project costs.  

One of the factors that has owners, consultants, and Fortune 500 Property Management firms partnering with Master System Integration companies is the technical depth and expertise they offer.  Our experience has shown that the ability to quickly assess building technologies to determine their technical capabilities, their suitability to the clients’ existing infrastructure, identification of capability gaps or overlaps, their strengths and weaknesses have enabled customers to validate their existing implemented solutions or the potential introduction of new technologies.

As long as owners have building stock within their portfolio with legacy building systems or “one-off” systems, there is a need to partner with Master Systems Integration companies with specialized experience and flexibility to determine the best solution; taking into account the overall implications of the environment and proposed solution.  You wouldn’t use your family doctor to perform Lasik surgery – you would go to a specialist who has vast experience and the proper tools and training; building owners should likewise leverage the expertise of qualified system integrators when deciding how to manage the challenge of adopting new building technologies.

Company Overview
Performance Building Solutions, is a small-women owned business with over 50 years combined experience.  As Master Systems Integrators, we provide technology consultation, building system integration and enterprise analytical solutions design, turn-key project delivery, and optimization services. Our transformative, solutions-integration approach, empowers customers to access pertinent, key data points in simple, easy to access methods.  The outcome enables systems optimization, improved energy performance, and reduction in energy and operational costs.


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