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Why New Daedalus?

Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Tuesday
Sep252007

Something’s Gotta Give

Changing business models is hard work. All the new approaches discussed in this BLOG seem not quite justifiable today. They would offer great benefits if they were already set up, but the change, to many, doesn’t make sense. History, and the installed base of markets and technologies, seems to block change.

I work from the precept that long term historical trends do not easily change. The things that drive decision makers will not change. Economic principles are as certain as gravity. We must find solutions to the problems of Energy and Sustainability that acknowledge the reality around us.

I make three assumptions about energy, the use of energy, and the need to deliver energy.

Energy Use per person has been increasing through all of history. It will continue to increase. The number of people using energy will increase. This means that the end-user demand for energy will increase.

Legacy energy sources will get scarcer. The difficulties associated with siting traditional energy generation will increase. The costs of remediating energy siting will increase. This means that the costs of central generation of energy will increase.

Utilities will be unable to build sufficient transmission capability for the needs of the future using current technologies. (Transmission refers to the long distance, high voltage tall towers you see bringing electricity to the fenced-in gray objects at the edge of a neighborhood. From the fenced in area to your house is referred to as Distribution.) Siting new transmission corridors is getting tougher and the lead times longer. One reason that the grid is fragile is that Utilities have been unable to afford adequate transmission expansion; they will be less able to afford it in the future. Increasing energy use will make demands on an infrastructure that cannot keep up with the growth will lead to decreasing reliability.

These three trends, increasing demand, higher cost of generation, and decreasing reliability or transmission, will shake end users, whether in homes, offices, or factories, out of their complacence about current energy provision. This will create the market conditions for technologies and approaches that seem “too risky” today. The risk of standing pat will be seen as larger than the risk of innovation.

I believe innovation will include building systems responsive to enterprise needs and current pricing. I believe innovation will include on-site generation and storage. I believe this innovation will require approaches that accept the heterogeneity of systems legacy and new, of generation systems appropriate to each site, and of storage appropriate for the needs of each business and home. To accomplish this, the underlying processes of each system need to be exposed as discoverable services to agents that are responsible to the owner or tenant for running the building.

Any other approach will take too much customization to ever really grow into a market. Anything that does not grow into a market will leave the needs unmet.

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