With energy costs constantly rising and the desire to conserve energy, the need for “green” or sustainable buildings is critical. Due to changes in technology not only is it possible, it is expected on new construction projects and has gotten much easier and affordable to retrofit existing buildings. At the heart of theses changes is the adoption of open communication protocols such as Lon and BacNet by controls manufacturers and open framework and software by companies like Tridium. This combination is leading a change in what is possible for building owners.
So what do you need to know to take advantage of this new technology?As a building owner the first thing you need to be aware of is how the controls industry has changed with the advent of open control protocols and how to leverage your options. For many years every control manufacturer had its own communication protocol. Honeywell systems spoke C Bus, Johnson Controls spoke N2 and so on. What that meant to you as a building owner was that whoever won on bid day was who would be controlling your building for a very long time. If you were not happy with your control system, the cost to change the system was so high that it was too expensive to change. This has changed with the Tridium and Honeywell AX systems that allow different manufacturers’ controls to talk on the same network. So if your system is open you have options that a closed or propriety system does not allow. The key is you must make sure to ask for a truly “open system.” To make sure you know what to ask for listen to theses interviews with Scott Cochrane and Brian Turner, who are two of the leading experts on open systems.
The second thing, which is great news for building owners, is in the past you would have a different system and different software for your access security and your lighting controls. Now these systems have adopted open protocols that allow you to integrate all these different building functions into one software front-end, giving you “single seat building control.” In addition to all the savings on hardware and software, you can create energy saving control strategies that were not possible in the past. Imagine, your key card access is now integrated with your HVAC and lighting systems in such a way that when someone enters the building the system is smart enough to know who the person is and turns on only the lights that lead to their office and in their office. When that person reaches their office the temperature is set for their preference. The system will also keep track of how long they are in the building and can even produce a monthly bill for off hours usage. For more on how integrating these systems can save energy be sure to check the interviews with Roger Rebennack Part One and Part Two.
With new open system technology the building automation system becomes the hub around which new energy savings strategies revolve. If you are in Georgia or Florida and would like more information on how to save energy in your building(s) contact Stromquist & Company. All others can contact one of our affiliates at Controls Group North America.