Intelligent Buildings are Green, Too

Aug. 1, 2008

Improve building performance, streamline facilities management, and reduce your building's impact on the environment with intelligent building technologies

"Much interest has emerged throughout the industry surrounding the green application of intelligent building technologies," says Ronald J. Zimmer, president and CEO at Ottawa-based Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA). Because integrated systems improve building performance and streamline facilities management, buildings that employ these systems have a reduced impact on the environment. Intelligent building technologies aren't the only way to green your building, but experts agree that they are a good place to start.

Operate Systems Only When Needed
Integration makes it easier to control building systems so they operate only when needed, and at the optimum level. Intelligent building technologies make building systems work smarter, not harder. There are two ways to achieve this: intersystem integration and the integration of building and business systems.

Intersystem integration ties multiple building systems together, such as lighting, HVAC, and access control. For instance, when someone swipes their keycard in the access-control system for entry into a building after hours, the lights in his/her area turn on and the thermostat adjusts to a more comfortable level. Other examples of this include integration of powered window treatments, daylighting controls, automatic adjustable exterior light shelves, and artificial lighting systems.

The other type of integration—the integration of building and business systems—allows communication between systems such as a Microsoft Exchange server and HVAC and lighting equipment. Paul Ehrlich, president, Building Intelligence Group LLC, St. Paul, MN, explains: "When a conference room is reserved using Microsoft Outlook, that information goes to a Microsoft Exchange server; the Exchange server sends information to the lights and the air-conditioning in that conference room to bring those on when that room is scheduled to be occupied. When the room is not occupied, we don't light, heat, or cool that room."

Track Energy Use
LEED, Green Globes, and ENERGY STAR®, the industry's most sought-after green-certification programs, all require careful measurement and reduction of energy consumption. "An intelligent building is a great way to get improved energy efficiency; in fact, it is one of the best ways to do this," says Ehrlich. Intelligent buildings optimize energy performance through advanced controls and give operators the capability to monitor and measure energy use, as well as verify efficiency initiatives.

Demand Response
Demand response, with a real-time, two-way interaction with the utility, can help control building systems to reduce energy use during peak demand. This results in the utility not needing to build more power plants, and in financial savings for owners who participate in these programs.

Streamline Building Operations
Web-based consoles that unify building management, computerized maintenance management, and asset management make it is easier to monitor, track, and commission building systems (both on-site and remotely) with an aim toward peak performance. Real-time data is necessary to detect problems and continuously commission buildings. "These tools allow the operations team to be that much more effective," says Ehrlich.

As facilities strive to reach sustainability goals, intelligent building technologies become even more essential. "To achieve the creation of green buildings, it is necessary to interconnect building systems with intelligent building technologies that improve building performance," says Zimmer.

Jana J. Madsen ([email protected]) is managing editor at Buildings magazine.

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