Discovering the Unseen World through Standards
Monday, November 26, 2007 at 06:05AM
Toby Considine

The engineered world is invisible and uncontrollable. Established business practices limit access to information about capital assets. We can address pressing needs in energy and environment while increasing amenities if we can improve decision making. We can address pressing needs by making fact-based decisions about capital facilities. There is great opportunity in applying IT best practices to the engineered world

Traditional practices lose information at every stage of design, construction, and operation. Programming, design, construction, and operations are closed silos. An integrated life-cycle information model standard is our best hope of addressing these issues. It reduces cost while speeding construction. It enables feedback from actual operations to future designs. This IT-based standard is called NBIMS.

Higher performing buildings will require abstract interoperable standards. Traditional control protocols are too concrete and to specific for anyone other than experts. Standard interfaces to control systems are the beginning of an answer. Such interfaces require that the system integrator be a new trade in every construction project. These interfaces will leverage the IT principles from Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

Smart buildings must partner with an intelligent power grid to solve the biggest energy issues. Building operations use 40% of the energy in North America, and 62% of the energy on the power grid. We can save 25%-50% of this energy use by enabling buildings to be responsive to and interactive with their occupants. The power grid can save similar amounts by using standards-based interactions with smart buildings to improve operating efficiency.

Poor data sharing in capital assets are at the heart of some very large societal problems. Open standards the promote interoperability address each of these problems while opening up opportunities for innovation and new markets.

Article originally appeared on New Daedalus (
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