November 2007

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Building the Intelligent Bridge to Sustainability
Intelligence-based solutions can be used to deliver buildings which meet the requirements of the 21st Century, while optimising their environmental performance.

Alison Nicholl
Programme Manager - ibexcellence
Business Analyst - i&i limited

A decade ago the idea of bringing together intelligent and green buildings was seen as ground breaking and controversial. At that time both intelligent buildings and green buildings were monopolised by two opposing viewpoints.

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At one extreme those in the green buildings movement saw, and indeed some still see, technology as the cause of many of the world’s climate and energy problems. Some of the more reactionary environmentalist recently claimed that “Technology invariably disappoints in terms of performance and durability,” and that people should end their “love affair with high technology and gizmos”. Many proponents of low-tech, passive solutions don’t see the importance of intelligence-based solutions, preferring to focus exclusively on delivering sustainable buildings through passive structural. This purist, sometimes almost religious, view of environmental sustainability leads many people to suspect the whole notion. They are not yet prepared to fundamentally change their lives in order to live “more sustainably”.

At the opposite extreme there’s a high technology faction, which develops and implements technologies and intelligent solutions just for the sake of being high-tech and leading edge. Their solutions are fundamentally technologically driven, and again disenfranchise those looking for mainstream solutions.

Factors such as increasing energy costs, tightened building regulations, media coverage of climate change and corporate social responsibility are bringing environmental sustainability to mainstream attention. As a result, there are an increasing number of people in the middle ground who are prepared to accept that intelligence can – and indeed must - be used to significantly improve building performance in social, economic and environmental terms. Intelligence-based solutions can be used to deliver buildings which meet the requirements of the 21st Century, while optimising their environmental performance. There is no mainstream desire to turn against technological progress.

Intelligence can be used to measure manage and control the performance of a building. An optimum integration of active and passive systems can create buildings that are responsive to users needs and deliver performance and value over time.

Passive systems most certainly have a place in delivering building performance but in order to optimise performance intelligence-based systems are also essential. For example, in buildings where natural daylighting is maximised there is still a requirement to provide well-managed artificial lighting. The use of intelligent lighting management systems can ensure that the artificial lighting is optimised in terms of both energy performance and occupant experience. Intelligent sensors and meters can be used to ensure that all building systems are being used effectively and delivering to their full potential.

The UK continues to demonstrate global leadership in acknowledging and addressing the challenges of climate change, particularly through the design and implementation of sustainable solutions which make effective use of intelligent and green building solutions. Unfortunately these successes are rarely recognised. All too often, media coverage concentrates either on failure or on prizes for new buildings which are heavily weighted towards architectural style and design features. Buildings which are using intelligent systems to deliver quality, performance and value over time are very rarely documented and publicised.

The Centre of Excellence for Intelligence in Buildings (ibexcellence) is currently redressing this balance by working with its partners to produce detailed case studies identifying and quantifying the real value of intelligence-based applications in buildings, and thereby showcasing UK leadership in this area. These case studies provide the basis for the Intelligent Bridge to Sustainability, an international programme to capture and communicate proven best-practice in intelligent and green building solutions, thereby raising the standards of performance and design in emerging markets like China and creating major commercial opportunities for progressive suppliers of products, systems and services. The challenge being addressed by ibexcellence is to capture this best-practice, prove the benefits achieved, and capitalise upon it by moving the solutions into the mainstream – both nationally and internationally – in an effective and profitable manner.

A selection of the best of these case studies will be presented at Intelligent & Green 2007, Delivering Sustainability with Intelligent Building Solutions is being organised by ibexcellence on 26-27 November. This international conference and exhibition will build upon the international leadership position established by the UK in the field of intelligent and green buildings. It will look at sustainability challenges in the UK and international markets and how intelligent building solutions are being developed and implemented to respond to these challenges.

To find out more about Intelligent & Green 2007, please contact ibexcellence on or call 01923 665950.


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