The power to be green
Green buildings do not just happen. They depend on intelligent control to integrate their various systems and renewable-energy options, as Sarah Chiappi explains.
With green issues increasing in importance for building owners, it is important to highlight what a ‘green’ building is, compared with an ‘intelligent building’, and how the two can complement each other.
For many years, building functions have been streamlined through integrated building services on an open control platform such as LonWorks technology, allowing systems to communicate with one another. This communication allows the building to run more efficiently and reports problems, as well as offering significant savings in the initial installation. This is what is typically described as an ‘intelligent’ building.
A ‘green’ building on the other hand is one that not only manages its power consumption, water consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions in order to reduce them, but also uses environmentally friendly materials from the outset and makes the most of its natural assets. A green building will typically rely on intelligent systems to harvest daylight during peak hours and only bring artificial lighting systems on when and where required. This power management can allow companies to make significant energy savings, support load shedding and lead to rebates from utilities suppliers.
Shutting down devices when they are not required and ensuring energy is only consumed when required by a user is all very good in practice, but how many companies really do this? We all know we should turn the lights off when we leave a room, but few of us will also turn the TV from standby to off. Few people regulate the temperature in their office. Yet these simple acts can save thousands of pounds a year. Looking out over London at night, it amazes me how well lit the City skyline is, not just by exterior lighting but by lights left on in offices.
So what is the ideal scenario for a company looking to reduce costs, run its buildings efficiently and maximise its green status? A building needs the infrastructure to support the management of all its systems remotely or from a single location, as otherwise facilities managers or maintenance personnel will expend a lot of their own energy trying to keep everything running! It should also connect all the systems within a building: lighting; HVAC and other building services; the IT network and audio visual systems.
In addition there needs to be a management platform providing easy access to all of these systems and devices for monitoring and control. Such a fully integrated and managed LonWorks solution allows you to run your building more efficiently. Intelligent sensors recognise when zones or rooms are not in use and adjust the lighting and heating appropriately, projectors and meeting room equipment are switched off when not in use and surplus networked devices are turned off out of hours. The LonWorks integrated system has the intelligence to recognise when a zone is being used out of hours and keep devices powered up for practical as well as security reasons, and can also allow whole areas of integrated devices to be shut down at night.
Intelligent and green building solutions are available today. Open-systems devices are available from many manufacturers to allow building owners to select the best-of-breed products for each of their building sub-systems. Integrators are available to install and commission systems and streamline product interoperability to maximise energy savings and facility usage. Details of partners for intelligent and green solutions can be found at www.lonmark.org.uk.
Sarah Chiappi is corporate account manager