Opinion – Industry must adopt Integrated Building Architecture11 January 2012
Truly intelligent buildings, ones that are both productive for users and operationally efficient for owners and developers, will only be achieved by adopting Integrated Building Architecture, says Kari Baden of Dimension Data Advanced Infrastructure.
It is time for radical change in the construction industry. Developers, operators and users – from shoppers to office tenants and residents – are demanding more from their buildings. Indeed, there is a demand for buildings that are more intelligent, easier to maintain, more enjoyable to use, offering innovative services that improve quality of life and, where possible, offer commercialisation opportunities. Yet at the same time, there is massive pressure to minimise capital expenditure. There is a constant call to deliver buildings that cost less to operate and maintain, to achieve whole life cost reduction.
The old models of building design are no longer good enough. Construction companies need to be able to demonstrate an ability to deploy new technologies into buildings, whilst also controlling costs at every phase of design, build and operation. The challenge therefore, is in delivering these two, often contradictory demands, all at a time when technology is rapidly changing.
For instance, how can a building owner or developer future proof the building when any analogue devices being implemented today, such as analogue CCTV, will be obsolete within five years? This will make the devices expensive to maintain, difficult to repair – and may even require a complete refit – for a technology that should be viable for 20 years. In short, not only does the building lack the intelligence required in today’s market, but the whole life cost has increased, rather than decreased.
Today’s model is rife with duplication and complexity. How therefore, will the industry move forward to increase automation and enable the cost effective exploitation of solutions that will ultimately transform building value?@page_break@
Arguably, attempts to integrate the IT architecture into the buildings control framework have so far failed. Such failure comes through a combination of a lack of IT understanding and the need to use multiple, expensive suppliers to deliver each component of the solution. The resulting cost model has been unsustainable, resulting in many of the critical technology solutions, which are key to building success now and in the future, falling by the wayside.
For instance, the industry is slow on its uptake of the use of Wide Area Network (WAN) and IP connections, which could automatically manage buildings in real-time. This in turn, would reduce energy consumption, making real-time adjustments to the way the building’s heating and lighting was being deployed, in response to its current usage.
This technology can also be used to improve security, ensuring lights, lifts and other resources are automatically and intelligently deployed when the building – or parts of the building – is occupied. Combined with the improved video analytics provided by IP CCTV, it is this level of intelligence and automation that will deliver the improved sustainability and operational management that is currently being demanded by today’s market.
It also facilitates commercialisation, creating an integrated architecture within a building. This allows the provision of additional services that may generate revenue – such as an IP network within a shopping centre to support the deployment of digital screens for retail advertising. @page_break@
There is however, no reason for this lack of innovation and future proofing. The continued adherence to a piecemeal model based on multiple suppliers and solutions is wasteful and unjustifiable: these technologies are based on a raft of industry accepted standards, which are increasingly converging around the Internet Protocol (IP). The key therefore, to overcoming the fragmentation that is currently undermining the industry, is to leverage an Integrated Building Architecture. This would provide a single, cost effective way of bringing all of these technologies together into an integrated whole.
With a combined approach and a clear, standards-based blueprint, it is possible to procure and deploy a holistic architecture from one organisation. Taking this approach, a sustainable, future proof building would be created, that delivers operational and commercial benefits from day one. Furthermore, any number of new services and applications will be launched over the next five to ten years, offering huge potential value increase to any building. In addition, a pervasive infrastructure that can support these new applications, underpinned by cross-discipline knowledge, will not only facilitate cost-effective deployment but also remove the need to ever undertake expensive technology retrofits to buildings.
There are compelling reasons why buildings should be incorporating these technologies. School heads know that IP CCTV cameras are proven to significantly improve behaviour – with an immediate knock-on effect on learning. Shopping centres want to offer innovative services that draw footfall and increase commercialisation opportunities; and operators want buildings that are cost effective to run and enjoyable to use.
Furthermore, many of these technologies are not brand new. Indeed, the leading adopters have been deploying elements of these solutions for the past ten years in shopping centres and other major developments. For these essential components to be integrated into every single new development however, the industry needs to embrace an Integrated Building Architecture.
If the industry therefore wants to rapidly and cost effectively implement these technologies, it is the ability to leverage proven standards and cross-discipline expertise that will be the key to delivering usable, manageable and sustainable buildings, which are increasingly being demanded by both the private and public sector markets.
Kari Baden is managing director of Dimension Data Advanced Infrastructure