BACnet Can Be Used To Make Buildings Intelligent In Either New Construction Or Retrofits
Once you have determined that BACnet will be the communications protocol used to automate and integrate building systems, the next step is using it as the guiding framework to making a building intelligent — whether new construction or retrofit.
"The convergence of building systems — such as HVAC, life safety, security, video, lighting, and telecommunications — is required for a building to be intelligent," says Brad Hill, global technology leader with Honeywell International. "This convergence facilitates control mechanisms to enable managing environmental conditions in an energy efficient manner and to optimize the operating parameters of building equipment in order to extend their lifecycles. The resulting automated interactions between these systems provide business value to the occupants and the facility management team."
Creating an Intelligent Building
Planning and creating smart buildings — from a technical standpoint — starts with identifying the desired integrations of these systems, selecting the technology required to make it happen, and designing the interactions that occur between system components, Hill adds.
The value of an intelligent building can vary from facility to facility as can the focus and appropriate level of scope and investment," notes Gene Shedivy, controls product leader at Trane.
Identifying the value for any facility comes down to defining goals and understanding the facility's needs and operations, says Neil Maldeis, energy solutions engineer for Trane.
Maldeis points out this process isn't any different than any other facility project or program. Those involved will want to assemble the right team of participants, define program objectives, identify and quantify mission-critical factors, gather relevant data, and make comparisons so the facility manager can determine strategies and actions to meet objectives. And this program should be structured so stakeholders can measure results and determine effectiveness and return on investment.
As the internal team of stakeholders takes shape, they can begin to assemble the right team of professionals to make the endeavor a reality. While technology obviously is a factor, it isn't the only important aspect of launching an intelligent building project, says Trend's Pinder. "It starts with the right skills sets. This team should include folks you want to do business with for a long time because these buildings live for a long time; this is not a 'one-hit wonder.'"
Consequently, the whole building team needs to operate with smart building objectives. The process requires efficient coordination, execution of design parameters, and a thorough commissioning when construction is complete to assure intelligent building design and integration through BACnet have been delivered.
New facilities aren't the only ones that can become smarter. While it may be easier to create an intelligent building from the ground up through new construction, existing buildings can become more intelligent through such methods as controls upgrades or energy-related retrofits.
"Existing buildings are perfectly suited to adding intelligence," notes KMC Control's Dorsey. "Consider, for example, an older commercial office building with a pneumatically controlled HVAC system. There's nothing smart about such systems. Today, however, it is possible to add intelligence to these systems with some peripherals and services while leaving the bulk of pneumatic controls in place. Yes, you can get data from a pneumatically controlled mechanical system. Now that's smart."
And whether your intelligent building project is new construction or an upgrade to an existing facility, there's one crucial thing to remember, says Automatic Logic's Tom. "Have the backbone to enforce your specifications," he says. "If you've designed an intelligent building and bid an intelligent building, don't change your mind at the last minute and accept a 'dumb building' bid because it comes with a lower price tag. That's demoralizing to the engineers who designed the intelligent building, and it's unfair to the bidders who based their bids on your specifications. More importantly, it's short changing the people who will work in the building. They deserve a safe and comfortable indoor environment that minimizes the consumption of resources."