System Integration Offers Benefits for Green Buildings

  October 15, 2015

Building owners seeking a green building certification or energy rating for a new building or a renovation generally push the idea of system integration to the background. To some extent this is understandable. They’re probably familiar with integration involving the fire alarm, smoke control, elevators, and access control — essentially life safety integration. But they may not be aware of the functional benefits of integrating other systems and the opportunities to analyze an integrated database of system data points.

Usually the idea of system integration is not even discussed during project conception or schematic planning. For new construction the owner is dealing with more immediate issues such as the sustainability of the site, construction logistics, materials, etc. For existing buildings, system integration may get lost in initial issues related to building assessments and audits, cost estimates, scheduling, scope of renovation, etc.

But there are many system integration opportunities that can be used to support green and energy efficient buildings.

One example is integrated building management systems.The most innovative building management systems inherently have extensive system integration, facilitated via software. Any data point in nearly any building system can be accessed, acquired, and normalized to the standardized format of an integrated building management system. Typically these systems are scalable, with applications and integration taken to the enterprise level. Examples are retail stores, campuses, or commercial buildings in multiple locations.

The integrated building management systems read or write to data points in building control systems and create a database of enterprise system data. This allows one software platform and a human machine interface to access a broader range of building data and more importantly improves the capability to analyze data. The use of analytic software applications for building control systems (especially the HVAC system) have shown reductions in energy consumption as well as improved operations. Other applications incorporated into an integrated building management system may be green building functions such as automated demand response and an integrated energy management application.

Building systems integration continues to demonstrate a significant positive impact on building life cycle cost, primarily in the areas of operations and energy consumption. As the process for implementing integration projects continues to develop and improve and as buildings become more complex, building owners will more readily adopt the integrated approach.

This quick read is from Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings LLC.

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