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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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« Buildings, Emergency Response, and Situation Awareness | Enterprise Interactions for Physical Security »
Tuesday
Oct142008

BIM, Services, and Emergency Response

The Building Information Model (BIM) comprises a family of standards, including the three dimensional building model, that compose a comprehensive description of a building. It is an oft hoped desire that the BIM, perhaps working through a mythical BIM server, be accessible to improve situational awareness by emergency first responders

One barrier for this BIM/Emergency management information exchanges is that BIM does not, by and large, define real service mapping. Chemicals and supplies may stored by room number. Ventilation may be by zones established long before the room numbering. Missing people may be in their office as per the directory, or in the conference room, which may not be identified in the BIM, elsewhere.

BIM could rather easily bridge the control system, with its focus on AHU3 by placing AHU3 in the building. If, say a return air temperature sensor is associated with both AHU3 and room 204, then one can imagine standard techniques to visually map rooms, and high heat through the control system.

The biggest issue is control systems tend to present their points for the building engineer, and perhaps one who has an extensive set of blueprints on hand to study. Furthermore, the contractor tends to limit the points displayed in any user interface to ones he is willing to defend. In an example on the UNC campus, we had a decades old building that we had replaced a chilled water valve on repeatedly because it was “frozen open”. When we established direct reading of the underlying control points, we found that a sensor that had never functioned was consistently claiming thousand degree temperatures. The contractor had simply excluded it from the user interface. (The valve is no longer “freezing”.) I wonder what would happen in an emergency scenario, if a point with this sort of reading were suddenly revealed through the emergency BIM.

Managing the diversity of energy generation, storage, and conversion systems in the Zero Energy Building will require interoperable service integration of the underlying systems. My thinking is guided by the service and reliability information of The Green Grid.

http://www.newdaedalus.com/articles/2008/9/25/divvying-up-grid-interoperability.html

These same abstractions would be very useful to the first responder needing to make quick decisions.. Is the primary power still operational? How much ventilation capability remains on the third floor? Is there additional cooling available? How reliable it the substation feeding the building right now?

Recognizing the operational status of these systems will be critical for responder safety in the years ahead. When a building includes on-site generators, electrical storage, and solar panels, it may be hard to simply cut the power to the building. The thermal storage well may be a supply of water to extinguish flames. The potential energy mass storage system (water tank on the top story) might be a source of power, dangerous or useful, a source of incendiary fluids or even mass. The vanadium battery in the basement might be a critical environmental hazard during building collapse.

If we move beyond single building to neighborhood disasters, these Green Grid derived services have new potential benefits. One scenario describes buildings sharing additional information during the period immediately after receiving a CAP alert. A common question might be whether the high school gym is in good enough shape to be a post storm shelter, or field hospital, or… Green-grid style informational standards would clearly improve this assessment. How much operational is cooling (or heating) and how much more is available? How reliable is the power supply? How long will the stored energy in the building last at the current burn rate? Perhaps even how long will the hot water last in the slow recovery hot water tank?

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