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Intelligent buildings drive energy savings

Modern intelligent buildings are now capable of controlling temperature, security and numerous other operational features.

Traditionally, amidst all the typical gadgetry and high-tech equipment in a building infrastructure, cabling has been considered as a mundane element comprising the physical network. With the explosion of the Internet becoming an integral part of most buildings and the subsequent advent of video and multimedia content, video conferencing, and complex high-bandwidth applications, buildings increasingly require more robust communication infrastructures. By integrating HVAC, lighting, video surveillance, access control and other integral components, the management and maintenance of these systems has become vastly simplified.

In addition, as more people discover that LEDs are an energy-efficient and longer-lasting option than standard bulbs, their popularity continues to grow. That increased popularity is leading architects and facility managers to become more interested in deploying an intelligent building platform that includes lighting controls, in addition to monitoring and managing security, heating and cooling, computer networks and telecommunications.

CommScope has teamed-up with Redwood Systems to integrate building-performance lighting into its Intelligent Building Infrastructure Solution platform. Redwood runs its platform over a low-voltage networking infrastructure and deploys a fine grain sensor network that measures temperature, occupancy and light levels. All of the data from the Redwood network is made available to facility professionals and can be seamlessly integrated with building automation systems to impact areas such as heating, cooling and security.

Intelligent Buildings harness technology and link building systems in order to supply more efficiency, higher productivity and increased comfort. The global trend among innovative buildings is towards a comprehensive infrastructure solution that CommScope calls Intelligent Building Infrastructure Solutions, or IBIS.

Most buildings feature between 10 to 46 low voltage systems, each requiring its own control, management and monitoring. Without a common infrastructure that can link them together, these systems can create a lifetime accumulation of unnecessary cost. But with a single backbone supporting all of these systems, from HVAC to communications, building operations can become high performing and cost-effective.

With IBIS, all of a buildings’ systems, from automation systems to video surveillance and access control are converged over the same common infrastructure, providing an enhanced level of efficiency and cross-system performance.

Information technology in buildings does not refer only to PCs and telephones, but also Building Automation Systems (BAS), such as security (surveillance and access control), Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC), and Fire/Life/Safety (FLS) as they transition from electro/mechanical and pneumatic technology to microprocessor based software driven systems.

Leading building automation providers already have state of the art computer based software controlled systems for building management. Most manufacturers of building automation systems offer computer based, software driven systems, based on distributed processing architectures. These systems are required to interface with other building automation systems and devices, and also to interface with voice, data, LAN and video systems located within a building or campus.

The ongoing protocol standardisation, the new cabling infrastructure standard - EIA/TIA 862, new technology developments, and announcements from building automation industry leaders, demonstrates the need for common protocols and interfaces for building automation systems, and requirements for structured cabling solutions to provide integrated networking and connectivity over Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) and fibre optic cabling.

Many systems are already automated or are rapidly moving in that direction. The major constraint to the development of the Intelligent Building has been the inability of devices made by different manufacturers to communicate with each other and other sophisticated office automation systems found in any modern facility. Programmable logic controllers (PLC), thermostats, direct digital controllers (DDC), programmable light controls and sophisticated FLS systems require a common wiring platform to communicate and network with each other in the near future.

CommScope’s IBIS is a common infrastructure that supports various customer requirements including:
• One system for voice, data, video and building automation
• Better utilisation of building cabling assets
• Compliance with all existing building cabling standards
• Open architecture, multi-vendor support of voice, data, video, LAN and building automation systems and applications
• Cable management administration via solutions such as iPatch and SYSTIMAX VisiPatch

In the King Abdul-Aziz Endowment Project in Makah, Saudi Arabia, various systems such as HVAC and CCTV connect on a grid and converge into a single integrated system. The key to integrating these systems is the facility’s common IP backbone.

The various systems are connected to the IP backbone enabling easy communication and control of the plethora of systems through what BT Applied Technology (BTAT) calls a unified outlet.

The ultimate goal of this project was centred on the Fourth Utility Concept. The first three utilities are water, electric and HVAC. IP, the fourth concept, is a new advancement for building technology. The fourth concept consists of IP-enabled systems over a common cabling infrastructure as the centre for integrating telecom, office automation and building automation systems. This project set out to implement the Fourth Utility Concept in the integration of the building by reducing CAPEX through consolidation of all UTP cabling, except the fire/life/safety and the PA systems, and then reducing OPEX by using native IP and intelligent patching throughout the buildings.

To realise the Fourth Utility Concept through the integration of the different systems there needs to be materials within the infrastructure to support it. The seven towers of the King Abdul-Aziz Endowment Project contain 100,000 outlets, which are all managed using SYSTIMAX iPatch Intelligent Building Infrastructure with copper and fibre cabling. There are 10,000 kilometres of fibre cabling containing single mode fibre backbones, single mode and multimode (OM3) fibre in the data centres, and 9,000 kilometres of SYSTIMAX Category 6 UTP copper cabling.

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