Here is the Audio Stream from our 4th Free Webinar in the 2017 Smart Buildings Series, sponsored by Project Haystack.
Creating Transparency From Building Analytics. This was an in-depth Q&A Webinar with James Lee CEO & President of Cimetrics. We discus Jim’s recent article “Analytics Creates Transparency” and his thoughts on why he thinks analytics is the key that the industry has been waiting for to unlock the true business value from building technologies.
In this Q&A session with Jim, we discuss The impact of building analytics and BACnet .
Analytics removes many of the complexities that we build into buildings. When implemented well, an analytics-powered building system allows owners and operators to focus on their needs; which is to provide occupants what they need.
A natural and logical way forward for our industry is to see how analytics brings value to building owners and operators, after all, they are our customers.
We are on the cusp of an industry transformation focusing on making occupants happy and content in their use of buildings, enabling building owners to see more value in what we do.
Click here to get more including the slide presentation.
By Therese Sullivan, editor of BuildingContext.me. To watch Ken Smyers and Eric Stromquist manage every detail of the ControlTrends Awards is a lesson in how to be the ultimate hosts. They made it happen on January 29, 2017, at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas, NV. But, as if by magic – and there was a lot of that — the party moved out of their hands and seemed to be owned by everyone else in the room at large. The way the community is embracing this event is a sure sign that the CTAs will live on for many years to come. The CTAs have become an important night to many, and serve a variety of community-building functions.
Steven Guzelimian, President of Optergy, explained it to me this way: “We’re building a global, brand-agnostic company aimed at the small commercial contractor. Partners from all over the world and from all lines of equipment come to AHR. I jumped at the chance to get a table at the CTAs, recognizing that it would be a chance to come together and forge a team. We invited any partners that were in town to join us at our table. 18 people showed up! We shared ideas and built rapport in this comfortable setting. Phenomenal experience. We had a great time.”
Ryan Shultz, VP of Product Management at Distech, expressed “I’ve joined Distech just this year, and this was my first ControlTrends Awards. We were up for ten awards, when you count all of Acuity. And we were so happy to win six of them. It was quite an evening for us.”
Alper Uzmezler and the team at BASSG added a new twist to the ControlTrends Awards evening by announcing a gift of software to the community. BASSG is open-sourcing one of its popular software tools, Project Building Plus, making it easy and low-risk to convert a backlog of trend data to Project Haystack format.
A great highlight was the induction into the ControlTrends Awards Hall of Fame of three of the industry’s most well-known and liked people: Jack McGowan, Steven Bushby, and Ken Sinclair. Jack’s moment was anticipated recognition for his many contributions over the years, such as his recent book on Energy & Analytics. But, somehow, Eric and Ken managed to surprise Ken. You cannot keep many secrets from the editor of AutomatedBuildings.com, the hub of all industry news. So, just seeing Ken’s astonishment was worth the price of admission.
This year BACnet International merged its annual awards honoring members into the ControlTrends Awards ceremony. Andy McMillan, BACnet president and managing director, handed out awards in five categories including Volunteer of the Year, Member of the Year, BACnet Hall of Fame (again Steven Bushby), Project of the Year and, new this year, Rising Star. I talked to the Rising Star award winter Natsuko Takahashi from Delta Controls who commented:
“I studied robotics and automation at university. Getting involved and serving a BACnet Working Group motivates me to keep learning. The standard just keeps evolving with technology; for example, it’s starting to cover new biometric systems. Everyone can be involved, grow their careers and give back to the great group of people that is the BACnet industry.”
ControlTrends launched a new award this year as well—the ControlTrends Woman of the Year. The importance of attracting all types of smart, capable and motivated people to the industry is a topic broached often in the automation and control conference sessions. I think giving CTA recognition to the women that are enjoying their building controls-related careers is a great addition to the night. Moreover, the next morning, I attended a Women in ASHRAE breakfast where CTA Woman of the Year Winner Renee Joseph, VP of Channel and Marketing Operations, Johnson Controls, was a key speaker. At 7AM in that huge hotel ballroom, the space was packed to hear Renee and others strategize about making this industry more welcoming to women. I hope to keep participating in this group—so that is one more new relationship forged at the 2017 Control Trends Awards.
To sum it up, when it came to ControlTrends Awards 2016, all the winners, runners-up and next-year-4sure’ers did like Vegas-Institution, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra recommended: They Did It Their Way. So, Ken and Eric, you are still going to sweat the details, but ‘Daddies, your baby has grown up.’ The CTAs are out in the universe of star-studded things now.
Revisit Building Context’s Therese Sullivan interview on ControlTalk Now:The Smart Buildings Video Cast and Podcast. Therese gives us an update on Haystack Connect, the 2016 RealComm|IBcon show, the right way to use twitter, and much more!!! Check it out!
VizLore platform is physically divided into two computational strata: a) Edge Computing is applied and distributed across connected devices and networking elements. It enables tactical data processing and serves to improve service resilience. b) Cloud Computing: Orchestration of distributed computing and service integration across the edge devices happens in the cloud, as well as more strategic oversight and workflow control. Here’s a video that explains the architecture.
In covering the growing power of the open source/open data movement in commercial buildings, I learned about VizLore and its Software-Defined Network (SDN) approach. SDN is an open programming model that is foundational for new Platform as a Service (PaaS) IoT applications like VizLore’s. VizLore soft sensors and analytics derive insight and value from data sources that range from occupant personal devices, building infrastructure, and public-domain information. Sometimes it feels like experienced Smart Buildings practitioners and those that want to bring hyperconnectivity and the Internet of Things into buildings speak two different languages. Not true with VizLore. CEO Dragan Boscovic explains in this interview how It’s all just moving data.
Therese Sullivan: There is a drumbeat right now about how the current incarnation of Smart Buildings has left people out of the equation and about how the next incarnation – the Building Internet of Things – will be driven from an ‘occupant productivity and comfort -first’ perspective. How will the IoT give rise to truly intelligent buildings that fit this description?
Dragan Boscovic: While IoT will be a radical and beneficial change to the way we currently live, work and play, the reality of IoT is that we will have a lot of connected devices, sensors, wearables and appliances that all come with their own set of functionalities, but that don’t know how to talk to each other and make sense of the data they collect in a way that is meaningful as a whole. So, to derive actual long-term value from IoT, you need a way to make sense of it all. The way to do that is to implement a smart software defined network that will act as a private in-building information backbone that can, in addition to providing better security and data privacy, also orchestrate all the devices and flow of data. In return, you get actionable insights into things like your operational efficiency, use of resources, geospatial analysis, or even the social dynamics of your building.
Why is it essential for an intelligent building to have a platform that supports both edge and cloud computing?
Since the software part of the network sits in the cloud, it can be easily updated and re-defined to suit any future need and to maintain security, without needing to have an IT person on premises to deal with it all. When this software defined network (SDN) is complemented with edge and fog devices (such as switches, firewalls, IP cameras, sensors, bluetooth beacons) it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the creation of added value IoT services. For example, you can create automatic commands for the building so that you can save energy or enhance security. The fact that VizLore’s SDN picks up sensory data across the connected edge devices means that it can compile information from different sources and transform it into a “software sensor” (or soft-sensor) that can then be combined with lots of other soft-sensors to provide actionable recommendations.
How does your soft-sensor approach democratize data analytics?
Our cloud SDN is open and nonproprietary, so any types of devices, sensors, appliances, wearables etc. can be connected to it, and data extracted, in a way that is ultimately useful to the end user. Democratizing this process is necessary to allow the IoT to function at its full potential. If you have a bunch of cool tech solutions throughout your building but they have no way of communicating with each other, how are you going to use them to create an impact for your tenants or for your building management team?
How does the combination of a SDN and open source platforms (like EnOcean Alliance, AllJoyn and Project-Haystack) add value to a building?
Not everyone’s SDN platform is open. Well-known open source technologies like Project-Haystack for self-describing data models, EnOcean for self-powering wireless devices and AllJoyn work well in the context of our private software-defined network precisely because it is open. Project-Haystack is working toward standard tagging and semantic modeling of building elements (such as lights, thermostats and HVAC equipment ). AllJoyn allows devices to become discoverable amongst each other to create ad hoc networks for information sharing. An open SDN means that these platforms, and others like them, can be integrated within the network infrastructure, and in turn can be used to create soft sensors that will extract information from each side and repackage that data to make it more understandable as a process in the larger context of the building’s operations. You can have real-time information flow about the whereabouts and functionality of certain critical building components, where a suspicious dataset could trigger an automatic response and message to the facility manager and/or maintenance crew.
VizLore is a Google Technology and Service Partner and builds upon the Google Cloud Platform and Google Compute Engine. What are the advantages?
With Google infrastructure behind our cloud-based platform and software-defined network, we don’t have to worry about managing infrastructure, provisioning servers and configuring networks. We focus on how we can help customers optimize critical business processes through soft sensors and data analytics. Google wants to stay at the forefront of innovation in machine intelligence, so it’s a natural partner for VizLore. Our soft sensors bring together data formats familiar to Smart Building practitioners, like Wi-Fi, Zigbee, AllJoyn, Project-Haystack. And they are dynamically created and managed through APIs to our cloud-based platform hosted by Google.
What kinds of IoT Apps can be built upon such an open, flexible and secure framework? Can you give an example of an IoT application for intelligent buildings?
Lots of cool new modern services can be supplied through an IoT-enabled building structure, not only to building managers but also to tenants. One potent example of this is a revolutionary enhancement to an old, ingrained building system – the intercom. By connecting the electric door to the SDN, residents can now use a smartphone device as a virtual key to access the building! Real-time access logs are created that integrate surveillance camera feeds for every entry. The VizLore app for smart access also lets tenants create virtual key codes for their guests. Imagine you have a dog walker that comes by once a day, or an out of town guest that is here for a long weekend – now you can issue them a personal code to enter the building (instead of cutting a key). The virtual access codes have either a one time or multiple use life span that you decide when you create it. You can cancel the access code, or block a lost or stolen device from having entry rights, at any time, from the app or an online web portal.
Building managers have a further array of options for building security purposes: they can override any codes created or any devices granted access, block a specific tenant or unit from generating access codes, update the tenant directory online, and schedule events (like directory updates and blocked access) to coincide with move-out dates. With an IoT-enabled intelligent building, you can build any service to bring old processes into the 21st century. Your imagination is really the only limitation.
Six New Routes to Market for Smart Building Technology (by therese554). Anno Scholten, President of Connexx Energy, has had a very busy year extending his company’s ‘last mile’ energy solutions for Smart Grid and Smart Buildings. But, I caught up with him during the waning days of 2015 and asked him the existential questions on the minds of many in the industry.
“You may feel that you keep hitting a brick wall trying to convince some customers to adopt data analytics strategies for better building performance. But, ‘take heart,’ the route to Smart Building success may be just around the next turn.”
Therese: Why have system integrators (SI’s) had such a hard time converting their building owner customers over to data analytics and web services for energy and comfort performance management?
Anno: It does feel like too few are deciding to buy. You pitch the technology. Customers seem to like it. You go away to write the proposal. But, questions of ‘Who’s going to run it?,’ skepticism about ‘Will it really work?,’ fears of ‘When will it payback?’ haunt them overnight. Or it seems that way because the next morning they wake up and say ‘You know, our energy bills are not that high.’ Maybe owners haven’t yet been pitched the right solution for them, for their particular building, staff, functional constraints, and mix of equipment?
Therese: When is that pattern going to change?
Anno: The energy services market is a vibrant place. I can list at least six new go-to-market strategies for Smart Building technology based on the many types of companies seeking to partner with and license software from Connexx Energy. For SI’s that means there are a lot of other people knocking on the customer’s door. But, that is not entirely bad. It also means you’re not alone in trying to educate and battle against the greatest competitor: Mr. Do Nothing. Once he’s defeated, it’s ‘Game On.’
Therese: What are these six alternative routes to market?
Anno: Some of these routes to market are driven by customer demand and challenges, some by governments —particularly new city-level energy performance disclosure legislation—and many by desire for ‘stickiness’—that is, to have an offering that forges a stronger, longer-lasting relationship with more satisfied building owner customers. Who doesn’t want that?
#1 Utilities: The ‘stickiness’ factor is huge with utilities. The near-monopolistic hold on customers that some utilities have enjoyed in their regions is being challenged. The innovators have recognized that they have a built-in channel to the CFO’s office in the form of the energy bill, and what they do with that channel today will determine whether they stick around tomorrow when the customer has more options. I know that Constellation Energy pioneered automated demand response technology so its large building customers would have a means to reduce their energy bills through Automated Load Control (ALC) strategies. Customers use the online application to check real-time pricing and power usage information and to identify demand reduction strategies at critical times. If a utility is not offering a similar program today, they are falling behind the times. The pressure for utilities to leverage Smart Building technology to offer innovate services is only going to increase. For example, energy retailer Direct Energy acquired the Panoramic Power in November to incorporate all the capabilities of the start-up’s wireless current tracker in its basket of services. Panoramic is a Connexx Energy partner and their small sensor-packed devices track energy consumption at the individual circuit breaker level. Another interesting utility acquisition move is Duke Energy’s recent purchase of Phoenix Energy Technologies.
#2 MEP Firms: Mechanical/Electrical design firms have a stickiness challenge as well, and they also see Smart Building technology as a way to extend their stay in customer budgets, minds and hearts. Traditionally, owners see them as their trusted advisors throughout the design/construction phases. But, then once the keys are handed over and normal operations commence, that tie is severed. The engineers are thus cut off from any feedback about how their design decisions are working out. With high energy performance buildings, MEP firms shouldn’t drop their customer’s hands. But they have had blinders on when it comes to control system capabilities—blinders provided by the big equipment manufacturers. They understand that they need to spec open protocols like LON and BACnet; but, most haven’t caught on to the fact that equipment vendors can claim a BMS is BACnet-compatible, but still lock the building owner into their channel through proprietary implementations and applications. MEP firms are just waking up to the fact that BMS internal systems are not designed for collecting 3, 5, 10 years of data — and that they actually want to do that. When we show them that they can do data acquisition at this scale and that they can get good quality information out of an energy management information system (EMIS), the blinders come off. One big MEP firm Connexx has just started to work with has already launched its building optimization practice. They said “We’ve known we have to do this. We have the customers. We have the sales materials. The only thing we haven’t had is this technology.”
#3 Construction Firms: Similar to the MEP firms, construction companies building sophisticated new energy efficient buildings are finding Connexx Energy in the drive toward more satisfied customers and a stickier relationship. One such company representative commented “Every building owner thinks every construction manager sucks at their job. That’s not acceptable. The truth is we haven’t had the capabilities needed to manage buildings during the warranty phase. How can you be responsible for what happens inside the building over those first critical months of operation when you don’t have any data telling you that something is going wrong, nor the tools and data that would enable you to manage the building enough to fix things. It makes the Construction Manager look incompetent. But, we’re really just being set an impossible task. The Smart Building approach changes this dynamic. I want to have the data and analytics. I want to resolve all the issues before the building owner calls me.”
#4 ESCOs: Energy services companies (ESCOs) and the performance contracting model have been around a long time. ESCO-type 7 to 20 year agreements are based on an ability to guarantee energy savings from conservation measures like demand response and lighting upgrades. What have been missing are the tools, data and analytics to really know the impact of those measures.The need to know and to disclose energy performance results publicly is growing. Energy companies like Berkshire Hathaway Energy are signers and supporters of the American Business Climate Pledge, so they’re committed to more renewable energy generation and to reducing emissions from their plants.Connexx Smart Building services have enabled ESCOs to be more successful. The road to this success has not been without some hassles and channel conflicts. For instance, one partner has a contract with a building owner in New York, and it brought in Connexx for some data integration projects. To access the BMS data we needed to call in various SI affiliates contracted to the BMS manufacturers. And every time, their first reaction is “Who are these guys?“ What we were asking for would take no more than two days of work. But, the first quote to release the data was $60K. That’s unacceptable. The customer had sufficient clout with the BMS manufacturer to eventually get to a realistic bid. That SI lost trust with the building owner. These situations are going to cause further deterioration in that old channel model.
#5 Building Owner End Users – Another category of customer for Connexx Energy exemplifies another go-to-market strategy for our Smart Building tech. We’ve just signed a large REIT in big city. It has just hired its own data scientist to work with us. His job is to develop and run all the algorithms, queries and applications the REIT’s top management and facilities team is interested in. They want the talent to query and interpret data to be in-house. Another example is the NREL. We’re helping them set up all the buildings on one campus for analytics, 50k+ points. They have the data scientists to do something interesting. You’ll find similar data science capabilities inside companies that compete in process control industries. Whether they process food, pharmaceuticals or chemicals these companies already know the power of data to ensure quality and to prove compliance.
#6 OEMs: Connexx is now working with a manufacturer of heat pumps and packaged units on a data analytics feedback loop for their products in the field. Like the MEP consultant and the construction company examples, some OEMs have realized that Smart Building technology gives them a better way to deliver customer satisfaction. When we tell them we can pull data from some customer’s basement and deliver it directly into the hands of their own technicians, they’re excited. They’re quick to work through the rest of the solution – the customer communications, incentives and logistics to make that happen. They know this is a game changer that is going to make for better product design and eventually prove to be a competitive advantage.
Therese: You have me thinking. How about this for a 7th route to market: O&M outsource companies?
Anno: The O&M outsource market is also keenly interested in this technology. CBRE recently acquired ESI and JLL uses Intellicommand technologies to provide better Operations and Maintenance services for their customers.
Therese: How do traditional system integrators fit into this new scene?
Anno: First, they need to take stock of the new situation. They are not going to be the only vendor in the building offering building data services. They may have the attention of the facility manager, but some of these other players are knocking at C-level doors. SI’s affiliated with a certain BMS manufacturer cannot treat customers like they are captured. They cannot keep up the pretense that programming a sequence of operations for equipment that they installed is a dark art. They cannot charge whatever they want to do this work. What they can do is step up their game. There is nothing stopping SIs from leveraging the same enabling technology that Connexx brings to these other go-to-market partners. They are well-positioned to also provide more significant services to the end customer. Remember analytics just shows you what needs to be done; the information doesn’t fix the problem. So there is more opportunity for the traditional SI to partner with data scientists employed in some of the other provider categories to follow-through with corrective actions.
I like to think that Connexx is changing the market for everyone. As news of energy saving and value enhancing results from Smart Building technology gets out through all these pathways, you’re going to be able to have much more meaningful conversations with building owners about your own offering.
For more reading: Therese Sullivan buildingcontext.me
(By therese554) Smart Building technology isn’t being adopted at the pace expected. Why aren’t more property owners getting off the sidelines? Chicago Bulls Basketball star Michael Jordan inspired a lot of sports watchers to become sports Do-ers in the 1980s and 90s. And, of course, there was the ‘Sneaks.’ Can tech-firm smart building All Stars be as motivating? Are their methods and tools a fit for the rest of us?
Last week Realcomm’s annual corporate real estate conference, CoRE Tech, happened in Silicon Valley. There were half-day tours of Stanford University, Cisco and Google campuses as well as of the new football stadium in Santa Clara. (For a photo collection of the day’s events, click here.) Intel hosted one afternoon of the conference at their headquarters. The next day Intel, Google, Microsoft and other IT companies were prominent on the stage. All these large-scale property owners have rich stories about their journey to the smart campus. But are they relatable role models when it comes to deploying intelligent building tech? Companies full of data scientists with lots of spare cash and enthusiastic C-Level cheering sections have certain advantages. I’m using the Michael Jordan/Nike metaphor here to say that, in spite of their exceptional-ism, the tech companies brought a mix of inspiration and tool showcasing that may be just what the market needs to break the inertia. When it comes to taking steps toward more comfortable, energy-saving buildings through digital controls, it is time to ‘Just Do It.’
Click here to visit Therese’s website and read the complete article.