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Expert Q&A: The Value Smart Buildings bring Occupants, Operators and Owners - Part 1

Recently, we hosted a webinar with industry experts from Yorkland Controls, DB Engineering and Multiplex. Below is part one of two excerpts from our expert Q&A where we will be discussing various themes.

Read, listen or watch the Q&A discussion below:

Q: What makes a Building Smart? 

A: Art Smith, Vice President – Smart Building Services, DB Engineering:

I think of a Smart Building on a bit of a relative scale.  We do have buildings that are smart in that they’re programmed to be capable of independent action from the perspective of they can start themselves in the morning, they can make sure they’re comfortable when people get in. They can provide insights to their operators as too when they’re broken and need to be fixed.

But I think everybody probably on this call knows that we’re falling short on what we think a Smart Building should be and I think there’s a chance for us to say that a building is only smart if it achieves a certain level of smartness. We try to help people be smarter tomorrow than they were yesterday with the buildings that we work with and the customers that we work with.

I think if we take the idea of fault detection as an example, it’s a very basic concept in a Smart Building platform but it is giving us insights that are automated insights that generate the ability for an operator to function and operate a building more effectively and prioritize and generate a better outcome for the occupants and to me Smart Buildings were at the beginning of what I think will be looked back at twenty years from now of what the real Smart Building evolution was and I think we’re just starting that journey but buildings are reasonably smart, the most recent buildings but I think we all know that they could be a lot smarter if we were able to combine all the different data sources and take advantage of them.

Q: Why is being agnostic, open and flexible, critical to the success of a Digital Twin?

A: Gerry Cellucci, Principal and Vice President of Systems Solutions - Yorkland Controls:

There’s a lot of reasons but I’ll mention two or three here why the digital twin platform should be agnostic, open and flexible. The digital twin as your slide shows, integrates and represents multiple sources of data from different systems so they exist in day one potentially and the technology is implemented in day one but to be flexible and open, the twin should allow to bring in systems and technology that may evolve over time, over the life of the building. 

For example, day one the building may not have occupancy tracking, or water leak detection system for example. These systems could be site-based, they could be cloud-based, could be hybrid so being able to bring in the best of breed of these systems or subsystems in the future we want to be able to reduce spender locks and increase the choice of the vendor systems rather than be forced to use a particular system or technology only because the cloud platform forces somebody to use that. 

Open system should also minimize this whole need or this perception of extensive customization, we want to avoid that as much as possible because if it’s customized, it would be harder to add in potentially new technology or uncouple older systems as they get older and we want to be able to maintain them without bringing in again my classic custom trade in this case a wiz-bang, API guy, custom coder. Difficult to maintain that kind of environment and finally let’s look at being agnostic and I'll again mention Art’s example of HVAC or fault detection analytics. Every major building automation manufacturer is offering their own analytics platform so stuff that I wonder about is should the BS manufacturer provide the building automation system and the analytics platform to monitor its own equipment?  Well, maybe. But, providing an agnostic HVAC analytics platform means an independent review and oversight of the reporting system.

As an organization that serves many industries such as healthcare, commercial real estate, and corporate real estate organizations, we empathize deeply with what our customers are going through at this moment. We’re a technology organization, but for us people have always come first. If you need advice on where to start or how you can make the changes your organization needs to be prepared for the future, get in touch. Community is important now more than ever. 

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