The Case for Cloud Integrators – Future-Ready Building Integration – BuildingIQ


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The Case for Cloud Integrators – Future-Ready Building Integration

A journey of 1,000 steps has many opportunities for success and failure. In the case of a building, that 1,000-step journey can be exciting and fulfilling; however, I think we can all agree that the best journeys start by taking the right steps at the very beginning.

We have often worked with building owners who have little interest in returning their building to its “commissioned” state. That’s because the system never worked correctly, even from the time of commissioning.  There are a myriad of reasons, from fundamental design flaws to value engineering cutting out critical aspects, but fundamentally the systems have never worked well. The initial, somewhat standard operating methodology for commissioning only looks at a sampling of points because it is too expensive to test them all. And without catching all issues in commissioning, the chances of a misstep that later compounds massively in the journey are high for new buildings, and it is even higher for retrofits where commissioning is sometimes not even performed.

This is the genesis for the idea of a building management system (BMS) cloud integrator  (cloud integrator for short). Cloud integrators for buildings —of which BuildingIQ is now the first in North America— can be a bit of a unicorn. Instead of just BMS expertise, they need to have data analytics expertise. And instead of just being a data insights company, they have to know the ins and outs of actually installing a BMS that serves the needs of the client. In other words, the Cloud Integrator brings years of expertise on the ground to augment the science in the cloud. Choosing to retrofit a system with a Cloud Integrator is a purposeful, bold first step in creating smart buildings.

At BuildingIQ, we leverage machine learning, patented algorithms, and artificial intelligence to provide services to existing buildings. The technology and market are ready —using standardized data formats and protocols like time series trended data, installation, maintenance and service data, and the BACnet protocol. With cloud integration, companies like ours design and implement the BMS so that it is cloud-ready.

The BuildingIQ Journey looks like this:

  1. Design the BMS to have a remote connection to the cloud —either embedding software in the BMS PC or via a powerful, flexible, and easily upgradable Internet Appliance.
  2. Catalog assets, not merely as assets, but as a keystone of future knowledge. Think of the asset as the primary key amongst many data tables, such as degree of influence over whole building energy consumption.
  3. Embed autonomous (and manual) cloud-based functional testing capabilities. This is done through a software translator in the BMS PC or Appliance. A more foundational step in nature, this one is in preparation for future needs that could include a more active, programmatic form of constant commissioning where the BMS is systematically tested to further isolate and improve asset and system knowledge including remaining useful life, or energy impact calculations.
  4. As the BMS comes online, begin creating an isolated (occupancy free) correlation and influence map of the system. The correlation map catalogs how assets in the BMS interact, in which direction, and to what degree. The influence map catalogs how individual assets/data points impact a particular key metric – typically whole building energy consumption.
  5. Partially autonomous commissioning and data mapping are next. This step saves on labor cost and time by having our cloud platform conduct functional testing from afar in custom sequences so as not to impact any (early occupancy) tenants or blow through peak energy constraints —while also testing 100 percent of systems to catch issues.
  6. Smart defect and liabilities phase (DLP). By now we have created a “noise floor” for our anomaly detection tools; understand which assets/data impact which others and how things happen; and have a deep understanding of what the system is and should be doing. In other words, once given the authorization, we can not only analyze and diagnose the building from the cloud, but we can tune and control it for maximum efficiency without impacting comfort.
  7. Warranty/Maintenance Plus. Coming out of DLP, leverage the data and knowledge to constantly monitor the building for operational optimization. Given the level on insight and cloud control (assuming the building owners approve), monitoring/analyzing/diagnosing/controlling can be a single service that minimizes drift, drives efficiency in energy usage and operations, and ensures maximum asset utilization.


Bottom Line

In the end, what a cloud integrator does is get your building started on the journey the right way. Even more, cloud integrators embed the processes, connections, and services to enable remote diagnosis/analysis and guidance up front — so your building either does not drift at all or drifts far less than a comparable building. This equals huge savings.

Finally, if you step back a bit, what has a cloud integrator done? First, they have set up a flexible, future-ready building that is properly integrated with key cloud services from day one. Second, squint a little and you realize the BMS is one, big IoT-type network – cloud-monitored or optionally controlled. The cloud integrator has just created a Building IoT (BIoT) system. Third, the architecture supports the addition of multiple network connections or IoT devices either through cloud-to-cloud API integration or embedding gateway software into the Appliance.

With cloud integration and integrators, you are taking the right first steps, and setting up your building for staying on the right path in the long term.


Steve Nguyen is VP of Product and Marketing at BuildingIQ. He loves products and ideas that transform markets or society. Whether they are transformative in and of themselves, or because they are enablers. He’s driven by creating the stories, teams, and strategy that make these agents successful.