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By Kurt Karnatz, Robert Knight, and Rick Szcodronski
Building Automation Article Use Policy
The preceding three steps should culminate in obtaining management approval for the project. Then it’s time to design and implement the smart building system.
Armed with well-defined goals, measured by meaningful KPIs, documented in a project plan, along with a thoughtful timeline and a realistic budget, it is now time to seek approval to proceed. At this point, the project champion in the C-suite (or similar high-level sponsor or supporter) is an invaluable resource to review the plan, provide feedback, and assist in finding an appropriate audience with necessary stakeholders. Remember that if this is an initial effort, the plan and budget should be rather modest to allow for easy wins. Therefore, the request is usually best presented very succinctly, with supporting details included as attachments or appendices. The third-party consultant or integrator should have previous experiences to draw upon to help craft a proposal that speaks to all stakeholders.
Once the project plan has been approved, it is time to execute. The first step is the technical design phase. This is when important and exciting detailed decisions get made that will influence how the building will operate for many years. Whether the project is an installation of a new digital addressable lighting control system, a chiller plant controls retrofit with optimization, or an enterprise software application integration, the technical design must achieve the pre-established goals, timeline, and budget outlined in the project plan.
One of the critical components to the technical design phase is to present all of the options for each solution in common language to the building owner and facility manager. It often helps to accompany the common language descriptions with a matrix that presents selection criteria in a numbers format. This enables the options to be compared side by side and decisions can be made based on which criteria are most important: capital expenditure, operating expenditure, reliability, resiliency, flexibility, interoperability, integration capabilities, and ease of use.
One often overlooked criterion is interoperability. How easy is it for a device or system to communicate with other components? Using open protocols helps prevent being held over a barrel with vendor-specific solutions and their subsequent non-competitive pricing when a change or addition needs to be made in the future.
Arguably the most important aspect of building smart systems is the integration. Defining the integration is what makes an intelligent building stand out amongst its peers and opens the door to driving further measures to attain higher performance. This step during the design phase is often overlooked because it wasn't traditionally part of the design process. Ensuring that the design and implementation of integration strategies is in the budget early in the planning will help ensure it doesn't get pushed aside during this phase.
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