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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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« Still Waiting. . .(part 3) | What if you had choice? (Homeowner version) »
Monday
Jun252007

Diversity in Grease

Did you see the headlines this weekend? Syntroleum is near producing the latest biofuel – diesel from Chicken Fat. I have no idea how much diesel they can get from chicken grease. I can imagine a fuel refinery near each poultry, hog, and beef processing plant. It just makes sense. In particular, it makes sense that it is not THE ONE WAY. Few are likely to advocate larger herds of cattle for more rendering.

Going forward, biogrease will be one fuel among many, and this will stabilize the economy. Cars will be adapted to handle a range of fuels, and people will use what works and is priced right. No one will want a car which will burn biodiesel but will require you, in advance, to pick only dirty French fries, or only poultry, or only beef.

Building controls are still marketed with a choose one source one time model. This control brand, this control protocol is THE ONE WAY. All sales cycles are slow and expensive because the customer must chose THE ONE WAY. Customers are reluctant to choose, because the compromises in the future are unpredictable. Once someone has picked one kind, one time, they specify that forever.

In some ways, it like cars in the 60’s and 70’s. All of the American car manufacturers were focused on getting that lifetime customer. They spent a lot of time on life time image, but not very much time on performance, or quality, or price. Now those companies are struggling in and out of bankruptcy. Is there an end in sight?

Or maybe buying building systems is like computing in the 70’s. Pick a minicomputer brand. You will have to buy big computers from them, small computers from them, networking from them, printers from them…I know, I was an OEM for one of them, I lived and breathed its product line, and sales went away when my customers discovered choice.

Today our problems are bigger. TO meet the energy challenges of the next years, to build zero carbon buildings, we must have top flight competition on quality and performance of systems. The controls, well, they will come direct from Asia and get cheaper and cheaper. Systems will matter.

We can no longer accept systems that are specified by vendor and designed by the low bid contractor standing on a mud bucket. We need systems that are actually designed and engineered for performance. Those who are good will be specialists, and they will be solar engineers, or HVAC engineers, or Storage engineers. We will demand they warrant their work. They will demand that they not be blamed for someone else’s.

In short, building systems will be smaller than they are today. They will be more diverse. Designers will be able to mix and match from best of breed systems, and not settle for one large system designed by a control protocol, be it LON or BACnet, or Tridium, or Metasys or Knx. Those standard will compete within control systems, but they will not, cannot be important at the enterprise level. Eventually they will not be important at the building level. Only at the system level.

And those who do not adapt, will, like the minicomputer makers, be little more than spots of grease.

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