Bundled building management solutions enable intelligent control

June 2008 Integrated Solutions

Development and construction are ongoing in Africa but with growing pressure on energy supplies there is an increased focus on implementing intelligent building management systems that ensure energy and cost efficiencies.

However, consultants, contractors and developers are not always well informed of technological advances in this arena. The benefits of a bundled solution far outweigh any attempt at integrating or managing individually purchased standalone systems.

Explains Neil Cameron, systems divisional manager at Johnson Controls South Africa, "Building management systems (BMS) have been popular since the 1990s but these generally only controlled airconditioners; few could manage access to other systems. The problem is that there is now so much technology out there that it is becoming a time and labour intensive task to manage them all, and very difficult to integrate and optimise them to work together. This leads to a fractured view of the building environment that can compromise the safety and comfort of occupants, not to mention sending costs through the roof.

"We are now in an age where technology allows systems built on standard protocols to communicate. It is important to leverage these benefits.

Chillers, for example, use multiple diverse protocols and to operate efficiently with a particular BMS - the software that enables centralised control - integration and retrofitting may be required. This results in cost overruns, especially in new buildings where the airconditioners may be specified and acquired before a BMS is selected.

"Deploying a bundled building management solution from a single vendor that incorporates all the key elements - chillers; airconditioners; security solutions, including access and CCTV systems; and a building management system - not only enhances energy efficiencies and cost savings but enables total interoperability and intelligent automation and control of a building.

In addition, using multiple systems from a single vendor ensures there is a single point of responsibility. In contrast, using the products of different vendors means no-one takes ownership of outcomes."

Utilities, which include lighting and airconditioning, are primary areas where cost efficiencies can be obtained. "Where previously all lights and air conditioning may simply have stayed on permanently or may have worked blindly to a schedule, these systems can now respond intelligently to input from systems within the integrated BMS," explains Cameron.

"For example, a chiller is part of an airconditioning solution. If they operate separately, the chiller will just produce a constant pre-programmed volume of cold water. With an integrated system, the chiller's output can be adjusted according to airconditioning needs. The output of the airconditioner/s, in turn, can be controlled by information obtained by the BMS system, such as an ambient temperature measurement or according to where environmental control is needed, a requirement which can be identified by monitoring the access control system. Why heat, chill or light a certain part of the building if it is empty?"

The standard arguments regarding bundled versus standalone systems apply.

Check for technology lock-in. There can be none where open systems are the norm. Also compare initial costs, reliability, total cost of ownership and depth of functionality. Building management systems are important tools that ensure occupants can function in safe, comfortable, productive environments.

They are also critically important to ensure building owners or lessees get a reasonable return on their investment.

For more information contact Johnson Controls, +27 (0)11 921 7100, neil.cameron@jci.com, www.johnsoncontrols.com


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