Intelligent buildings – why bother? asks Kedington’s Porter

Matt Porter, Kedington

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11 November 2016 | 0

As a young consulting engineer, I was talking about intelligent buildings 25 years ago, however, the tsunami of advances in technology and the on-demand app revolution has truly made possible the intelligent building — well, almost.

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It’s true to say we have moved from 1950’s pneumatic controls, 60’s electro-mechanical controls, 70’s electronic controls, 90’s web-based platforms and the 00’s LAN/IP/POE era, but we are truly on the verge of something extraordinary in IoT and intelligent buildings.

That said, the bottom line is: it is not possible to implement the fully intelligent building today, at least not at an affordable price point. What is possible is to alter your designs to make your buildings intelligent ready.

We realise that’s a bold statement when others will tell you it is possible today to have a fully intelligent building. Some will even tell you they have already done it. I have visited some of these buildings and while there are various degrees of ‘intelligence’, they are miles short of what’s coming, but will your building be ready? Sadly, the answer is no, but that can change for buildings you are designing today — for next year.

Intelligent buildings will improve comfort and efficiencies, give employees a better social and user experience, while saving you money, keeping your staff in your employ longer and aligning you to the green/carbon agenda, which is a no-brainer for any 21st century right-thinking person. Thankfully, financial savings will continue to drive the adoption of intelligence, while the spin-offs above are also nice to have. So, it’s coming whether we like it or not and it would be foolish not to prepare.

“The bottom line is: it is not possible to implement the fully intelligent building today, at least not at an affordable price point. What is possible is to alter your designs to make your buildings intelligent ready”

The focus needs to be on leveraging emerging technologies to connect people, information and devices to deliver on this greater productivity and efficiency that we desire. We will do that by managing, optimising and maintaining sustainable objectives, with the focus on the optimisation of energy use. This has never been more important since buildings are responsible for about half of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

So, what is happening and why are we not getting ready?

Advances in Power over Ethernet (POE) have made it possible to take the lighting onto the LAN, and although lighting controls are lagging somewhat, this is catching up. So, the DC ceiling is becoming a reality. The potential of selling vast numbers of extra POE ports have enticed global leading switch manufacturers to produce new ‘IoT’ switches at an affordable price per port (some due Q4 this year), with full budget POE and full 100metre rule possibilities. When we see massive investments like this from leading global manufacturers, we know change in our designs are imminent.

Do not underestimate this step in the delivery of the truly intelligent building process. Analytics, apps and dash boards are already here, but the understanding that analytics can follow, once we get the Intelligent Building ICT cabling Infrastructure designed correctly, make it possible to get your designs ready today for the buildings of tomorrow. If the physical cabling layer is not correctly designed today, with the right cabling layout and cable type, you cannot implement the fully intelligent building later.

So all you need is the proper design expertise from a company that has both ICT cabling knowledge and ICT networking know-how… and that is why Kedington is ready to help you.

In summary, on a lighter note, you’ll know you are in an intelligent building when you get a text on your phone from a light fitting, telling you that it has reached the end of its life, but not to worry because it has ordered its own replacement on-line!

 

 

Matt Porter is managing director of Kedington.

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