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Benefits Of System Integration In Existing Buildings
September 8, 2014 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
Today's briefing comes from Jim Sinopoli, managing principal of Smart Buildings LLC. System integration can deliver tangible benefits in existing buildings. For example, by functionally linking two systems, facility managers can obtain system capabilities that neither system could do by itself. The best example of this process is the integration that takes place with the fire alarm system. The fire alarm triggers the HVAC system to control smoke and ventilation, the access control system to provide egress for occupant evacuation, the elevator system to either bring the cabs to the bottom floor or, depending on the height of the building, provide elevators for evacuation in a high rise. Without the automated systems’ integration, each of these components would have to be separately and manually adjusted. The integration provides functionality that no one system can, does so automatically, and the facility and its occupants benefit. The theory is essentially "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."
Another reason to integrate systems is to combine the system data. The facility manager isn't limited to simply looking at data from one building system; rather, a database with multiple systems is created so holistic data can be analyzed and correlated, and useful building metrics can be developed that will lead to enhanced operations. This type of unified database is generally used in a truly integrated building management system. Bringing all the facility data into a unified database architecture and putting into practice standard methodologies and processes to manage the data has multiple benefits. Building data is more widely available, sharable, and accessible. There's also improvement in archiving, preservation, and retention of data, as well as improved integrity of the data. From a cost basis, a single database considerably reduces the cost and support for synchronizing separate databases. It provides a common platform for data mining, data exchange, and enterprise data access.
Today's system integration includes all of the control systems in a building, but also encompasses facility management systems, and business systems, and eventually will extend to utility grids.