September 2013

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Who R We? or Annoying Acronyms R Us

It may be not so much Who R We? as what do we call ourselves? 

Ken Sinclair,

Energy Manager
Energy Manager

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Who R We? or Annoying Acronyms R Us is our August theme. It may be not so much Who R We? as what do we call ourselves? A lot of discussion by industry folks on various LinkedIn groups about these names and acronyms.

This is not a new problem as our original mission statement when we started our magazine 15 years ago read “Automated Buildings wants to discover the who, what, where, when and why of this fascinating field. The names given to building automation systems are varied. We will group and provide connection to all of these plus lighting control companies, fire/life safety, security, the sensor, actuation, and end device industry and anything else that is now becoming part of an automated building system”.

When we wrote those words years ago, I am not sure I had a good vision of what the anything else might mean, but it has become a good catch all. Struggling to understand the impact of the internet and open standards was my first vision but the collision with IT, the cloud, wireless and the evolving anything else has engulfed us. My review this month called Who R We? provides an overview and connection to some of these discussions: BAS, BMS, EMS, FMS, EMCS, DDC, ATC, BIM, BACS, The Automation System, IA, CCS, RCMS, iBOS, CTM, BOBs, A Clouded Cluster of Annoying Acronyms, BEMS, BMCS and Smart Buildings are but a few.

Possibly the diversity in our naming of our corner of the industry is part of our combined success. As we move forwards in a converging collision to becoming an integral part of the information technology, we need to start thinking about how we will provide difference to our unique collection of real time building related data in the cloud. BAS - Building Automation System seems to be evolving as the cornerstone for sub sets to grow from. We are pleased with this direction as it keeps our magazine title relevant.

This being said two of our contributing editors independently provided great articles speaking to Smart Buildings. We are doomed to have agreement on a name for us all to huddle under so we need to hang loose and go with the name and definition provided by the user... smile. Both articles explain the functional creep that is our industry.

From this article—Defining a Smart Building: Part One by Jim Sinopoli of Smart Buildings LLC, comes this wisdom:

Building owners, designers, contractors and facility managers are all trying to build or renovate buildings identified as “smart” buildings. In general we think of smart buildings as being innovative, using advanced technology and materials, contributing to reduced energy usage and the sustainability of the building, and providing more efficient and effective operation. But the high-level, generic understanding of smart buildings doesn’t do justice to the concept or assist design teams or contractors, and it really doesn’t reflect the complexity of today’s buildings.

Generally, ethereal attributes describing smart buildings don’t help in defining a smart building in a way that the industry can have a common understanding of the concept. In contrast, look at “green” buildings or energy efficient or sustainable buildings; here you’ll find dozens of countries with environmental or energy building certifications with specific details on the requirements to be certified as a green building.  Recall twenty years ago when the USGBC was formed, the idea was to provide the building industry with a system to define and measure “green buildings”. We need a similar effort for smart buildings to support the building industry.

There have been various attempts to explain a smart or intelligent building. They include the Asian Institute of Intelligent Buildings (AIIB), the Building Research Establishment Ltd., the Intelligent Building Society of Korea (IBSK), the Shanghai Construction Council (SCC), the Architecture and Building Research Institute (Taiwan) and finally the Smart Buildings Institute (SBI) in the USA. (

The SBI certifies buildings in the Americas as well as internationally. The SBI certification structure is similar to LEED certification, having prerequisites with other measures credit-based where applicants earn points during construction and operation on the building.

Defining the attributes of a smart building cannot be done in 1000 or 1500 words; buildings are too complex and the features of a smart building too numerous. So what follows is the first of several articles that will “frame” the major attributes of a smart building as well as provide details. This initial article will focus on three of the major attributes of a smart building: cabling infrastructure, lighting control systems and facility management tools.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] From this article—Big Data for Smart Buildings by Nirosha Munasinghe, contributing editor, comes insight to the changes that are occurring:

Big Data describes a set of complex data that is difficult to process using traditional database management tools. The processing includes capturing, storing, searching, sharing, transferring, analyzing and visualization. Big Data is driven by significant growth in data sets over the last few years due to growth in unstructured data from mobile devices, sensing technology, wireless sensors, and social networks, satellite images, photo/video and speech, along with the reduction in cost of storage. The data growth has put limitations on the current rational database technology in obtaining the right data at the right time, which has introduced a new wave of database architecture such as MapReduce and Hadoop. The fundamental advantage of current big data architectures is the ability to process unstructured data. The traditional database tools required structured datasets with relationships to process the data. However architecture such as Hadoop and MapReduce allow processing of unstructured data at high speed. Hadoop allows big problems to be decomposed into smaller elements so that analysis can be done quickly and cost effectively. It is a versatile, resilient, clustered approach to managing files in big data environment. This architecture has been a key breakthrough in data management as unstructured data is ever increasing in our day to day life.

Our August issue is a collection of data, big and small described in many annoying acronyms smattered throughout several great articles, columns, reviews, new products, interviews and of course the steady stream of news depicting our rapid  evolution and journey to discover Who R We?


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