November 2016

Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Trevor PalmerEMAIL INTERVIEWTrevor Palmer and Ken Sinclair

Trevor Palmer, VP Controls, Applications & User Experience, Acuity Brands, Distech Controls

For more than 20 years, Trevor Palmer has brought innovative concepts and energy management know-how to the industry, having held leadership roles in contracting, manufacturing and technical sales. Recognized as a building automation expert throughout North America and Europe, Trevor is instrumental in positioning Distech Controls as an industry leader in building automation technologies, while guiding the company’s strategic development, market expansion, and product line diversification.

Merging the Two Domains

By merging the two domains, we have a robust network of permanently powered devices which we can leverage as a communication network.
LED’s make the story even better; as these devices are intelligent, carrying their in-built processors which can do more than simply drive the LED.

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SinclairTrevor, it has been some time since we last spoke; a lot has transpired within the industry regarding acquisitions and consolidation in general.What can you tell us about the Distech Controls acquisition and how it will benefit building owners and occupants?

Palmer:  Ken, it has been some time since our last interview. There have been a lot of changes in the industry in general over the past two years; we are poised for more of the same I am sure. It is certainly an exciting time for all of us involved in developing and deploying these systems.

The advantages of bringing lighting and traditional HVAC control together have always been obvious. These domains control more than 60% of the energy bill an owner is exposed to monthly, moreover and beyond just the energy story they directly impact the comfort of the occupant in every space of the building.

SinclairWe have heard a lot about the conversion to LED and away from the more traditional, what effect has this had on the total value proposition?

Palmer:  Lighting is pervasive; where there is light, there is power, a struggle when you are architecting control networks using traditional means or adding more complex technology to reduce installed cost like wireless radios. By merging the two domains, we have a robust network of permanently powered devices which we can leverage as a communication network.
LED’s make the story even better; as these devices are intelligent, carrying their in-built processors which can do more than simply drive the LED. They are excellent candidates for in-built luminaire control and since lighting is everywhere in a facility a great host for sensors in general to perform other building tasks. With this, lighting is becoming the host for a greater amount of data for the building system to act upon, not only for traditional energy functions but others also.

SinclairWhat you are saying is that we are moving beyond the traditional Energy Savings and Building Management System?

Palmer:  Precisely Ken. If you think back to just a few years ago, as a business, we were selling energy management or comfort control. This is just one aspect of the operational cost of running a facility. With these new Unified Systems, we can do more than drive energy cost down; we have the opportunity to enhance the occupant experience within the space, making them more productive.

If you think about a facility manager, the systems within the building, the different tools they must learn, systems they need to service and training for each, putting these systems on the same platform and interacting with the system using a single user interface also drive operational costs down and simplifies the life of this persona. Moreover, the networks become more simplistic, using less network and field devices for the installation, this drives down the initial capital cost of the facility.

Control Solutions, Inc SinclairUnifying building systems makes sense – tell me more about the occupant experience and how this will evolve?

Palmer:  Ken, we are seeing an increased focus on the user interface for the building, not only on a PC sitting in some closet but front and center on each device within the facility. Consumer devices such as smartphones are driving this expectation for manufacturers.

When we think about the services we offered in a building in the past, the interfaces were relatively simplistic; a light switch, a thermostat for example. These devices were geared towards the services we provided.

With the data, we can gather from the facility we can do so much more.

For example, with a combined lighting and HVAC controls system and their respective network, we have information on occupancy, temperature, CO2, light levels in all spaces. If we were to select just one, occupancy, for example, we could use this information for other things like how often a room is occupied or is the room occupied now? This information rendered properly is useful for property management folks and occupants. Property managers want to know how much space am I using versus what I have now.

The occupant of a space may want to schedule a meeting. When doing so, an indicator in real time of what the occupancy state is currently will assist in more efficiently planning the space.

Both examples are relatively simplistic use cases, which have little to do with saving energy, but more to do with the user experience within the facility.


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