Building automation systems: IoT meets facilities management
Building facilities managers can now find integrated building automation opportunities today and, eventually, will see more work at the IoT-smart buildings intersection. Further, facilities managers see a growing opportunity in deploying integrated building automation systems and bringing the Internet of Things into the realm of facilities management. At SmartBT, we fully embrace this opportunity!
Systems that control such building functions as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); security; refrigeration; and lighting have historically operated as standalone entities. They have also, for the most part, occupied a proprietary niche, separated from mainstream IT systems and standards. This isolation, however, is beginning to give way to a more cohesive environment. Integrators and resellers focusing on building automation now look to bridge the gaps among their customers’ systems.
New-building construction as well as retrofit projects provide opportunities for companies in the building automation space. Building managers find motivation in a number of factors. For one, they view a more integrated approach to automation as way to save energy costs. Integration also saves administrative dollars, since it is more efficient to manage systems with one console as opposed to several.
Concerns over obsolescence also play a role in encouraging building owners to take a fresh look at automation. Aging, proprietary controllers — computers that receive data on the building’s environment and issue commands to devices — will eventually outlive vendor support. The skills and practices amongst providers must be further refined before ‘smart systems’ will see widespread adoption. “They are open to exploring parts of their infrastructure they typically just left alone,” said Dave Klee, director of Optimized Building Solutions at Johnson Controls Inc., a Milwaukee-based company that builds and integrates building management systems. “They are going after these … traditionally untouchable areas,” he added.
Building facility managers moving into this space will find a growing confluence of IT and building-systems firms. Google Inc.’s agreement earlier this month to acquire Nest Labs Inc. for $3.2 billion is a case in point. Nest, based in Palo Alto, Calif., makes thermostats and smoke detectors accessible through mobile devices.