Buildings of today are much more than the shelter they provided in the 20th century. Buildings have become centers of productivity, places of learning, art and entertainment, and gathering places for our increasingly urban life. Innovation in architecture, construction techniques, and building materials are changing how we create these physical structures.
The occupants of these buildings–us humans–are evolving our use of the digital technology. Internet-delivered products and services are making our lives easier, more productive, and more enjoyable. Enterprises are also profiting from the increase in productivity through online tools such as ERP and CRM, as well as innovations such as supply chain, social media, and eCommerce.
The focus of the New Deal is a key missing part of this picture. We believe that the relationship between building owners and building vendors is currently broken, especially in the area of how building automation systems are used to improve the value and utility of facilities. We believe that by enhancing this relationship, both enterprises and people who occupy buildings (us humans) will reap significant benefits in our day-to-day lives.
We are not naive about the complexities of building a modern facility, the approaches we propose accepts the realities of the construction process, and improves on them, especially in the area of operating the building throughout its lifetime.
We believe that it’s time for vendors and owners to take action, and demand the type of products and services that can unlock the full potential of buildings for the 21st century and beyond.
Why building blocks matter
The three building blocks of the New Deal are interconnected by design, each magnifying the contribution of the others. They collectively provide a huge boost to the value of buildings for their owners, and improves the ability of vendors to increase the value of their products and services.
BACnet open standards: While there have been many open standard initiatives related to control systems, only BACnet have been focused on buildings. BACnet was created by building industry professionals, and designed around the type of information, complexities, and nuances of building systems. This combination makes device selection from multiple vendors easier, as many of the common types of devices are now plug-and-play commodities. The richness of information from BACnet devices uniquely enables the model-based analytics core at the heart of the New Deal. The widespread acceptance of BACnet has created a large base of industry professionals globally, providing owners the flexibility to chose based on attributes such as transparency of their offerings.
Model-based analytics: There is a great deal of hype today about big data and analytics from the technology sector. The New Deal’s focus on model-based analytics is based on a deep understanding of the needs of analytics for building system. Model-based analytics can only be done at scale using BACnet since the ubiquity of BACnet devices, and the richness of their data and metadata is critical for the creation of the digital twin, a core feature of the New Deal. This form of analytics also enables the transparency we view as essential; by seeing and troubleshooting the system in their digital twin, insights that were invisible before are now surfaced, so that owner and vendor engineers can analyze and take corrective action collaboratively and openly.
Service transparency: Transparency is a cornerstone of the of the Internet-enabled services we now take for granted in the consumer world, from Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List and many others. With the complexity of buildings, transparency is also a compelling proposition for buildings, but it is not possible without the open standards based BACnet, combined with the transparency provided by model-based analytics monitoring buildings. Service transparency turns the open standards based BACnet devices, coupled with the digital twin created by the model-based analytics, into a powerful accountability tool, holding vendors accountable for their products and services.
Benefits to owners
Those who have been involved in owning or operating large commercial facilities know that the term “owner” can be misleading, we use this term loosely to denote the stakeholders on the buying side of the vendor-owner relationship, namely the owning, construction, leasing, management, operation and maintenance of commercial facilities. Below are a few roles we consider more prominent for understanding the New Deal.
- Corporate owners: Corporate owners are focused on getting the most from the investment they make in facilities and people. While the costs of the facility, energy and other services are important, maximizing the productivity of their employees and other assets are their highest priority. Under the New Deal, owners are informed about issues that impact their business and be able to manage them with full transparency so they can plan their business accordingly. The New Deal is also an ideal way to assist on regulatory compliance, especially in health, pharmaceutical, oil & Gas and other highly regulated industries.
- REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust): For REITs, the capital and lease value of their buildings are their core focus. REITs are motivated by the New Deal to ensure that their properties are well maintained and that tenants get the promised value from their lease. REITs with a large and geographically diverse portfolio will benefit from the New Deal as a way to create consistency across their facilities, and to aggregate service and maintenance to increase the profitability of their assets. The New Deal also helps with environmental impacts, such as securing LEED accreditation, which in turn enhances the value of their properties.
- Tenants: Commercial tenants are focused on getting the most from their lease for their business. Similar to corporate owners, tenants are keen to increase the productivity of their operations, and especially contentment and effectiveness of their employees and, in retail situations, the happiness and patronage of their customers. The New Deal tenets also provide transparency on issues like service and maintenance, and can significantly reduce energy and other utility costs.
- Institutional owners (government, schools, religious groups, etc.): Institutional owners are typically focused on their purpose and mission. They desire facilities that work as specified, and that any issues are addressed as rapidly as possible. On the economic front, they need to show restraint and cost-consciousness to the community they serve. Open and standard based products provide these owners a solid base of flexibility to choose future vendors, and transparency gives them visibility and accountability to their stakeholders.
- Facility managers: Facility managers (FM) are responsible for the day-to-day operation of buildings. The use of open standards provide FMs the flexibility to choose products and services that suit their needs, not locked into a specific vendor. Model-based analytics provide FMs a powerful tool to identify and track issues their satisfactory resolution, while transparency enables them to get visibility of the vendors and hold them accountable for their services. The openness of the New Deal allows for the use of innovative products and services as they come to market.
- On-site Engineers: Engineers have the task to monitor and resolve issues with their buildings on a day-to-day basis. Their work is typically underappreciated, few people understand what they do, and most of the interaction with occupants are when something goes wrong. The New Deal provide tools for engineers to transparently identify issues, work with vendors and hold them accountable to resolve them and to provide a way to show their activities to building occupants and business managers relying on the facility.
Benefits to vendors
The New Deal for buildings affects some vendor types involved with the production, installation, and maintenance of building systems. While this is a broad industry, for the New Deal, we focus on the following categories of vendors, each heavily involved in the building automation system at the core of our vision.
- Large multinational equipment vendors: Large vendors typically focus on scale and brand. These companies rely on the development, production, and service of a broad range of products across large market regions, where ensuring customer satisfaction is key. The principles in the New Deal provides these vendors with a tool to focus on the performance of their products over their lifetime and being proactive and transparent in their service offerings. These qualities, in turn, create a significant degree of loyalty by their customers. The transparency attribute also increases the value and relevance of their brand in a competitive market.
- Independent control system vendors: Over the decades, small system vendors have been the innovative force of the building systems industry. These vendors easily adopt new technologies, and their use of open standards is core to their beliefs. Partnering with model-based analytics companies can provide these system vendors significant leverage to gain business with ever demanding owners. Service transparency is normally a core competence, so adapting the New Deal principles is a natural fit.
- Software and technology vendors: The significant growth of technology startups in the past decade has created opportunities in software and IT based companies in the building space. It goes without saying that these companies fit right into the New Deal vision: standards, analytics and transparency. Adopting the New Deal ideals will help these companies position themselves in the vendors community, and present their valuable product and service offerings to owners that need innovative solutions for their buildings.
- Consultants and engineering firms: There are many disciplines of consultants involved with buildings; architects, civil engineers, structural, HVAC, security, lighting, electrical, and many others. The work of many of these consultants are impacted by the quality and effectiveness of building system in the facility, and as such, the New Deal will become a valuable tool for them to ensure their discipline is well integrated into the broader building automation system that touches almost all corners of the facility they contribute to.
- Control contractors and system integrators: Much of the work in installing building systems fall on these vendors. They are typically local, provide expertise in the design and installation of real-time systems at the core of building automation. Most already have expertise in BACnet as it provides them multi-vendor flexibility. Adapting a model-based analytics will allow them to provide additional services throughout the life of the building. Service transparency is typically an important component of these vendors and their relationship with the building owner and managers.
- Maintenance & service providers: Service providers are key to the continued functioning of facilities, and the New Deal holds a great deal of value for these companies. The adoption of open standards reduces the variety of technologies they have to maintain, while the model-based analytics provides them with an important tool to be alerted of issues, and provide the owner with resolution in a very transparent manner. With the New Deal, service providers can be proactive and resolve issues before owners are aware of them.
Call to action
The New Deal for Buildings can only improve the value of buildings through proactive action on behalf of both the vendor and owner communities. If the views shared here are resonating with you, we invite you to do the following:
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As one of the owner-side stakeholders
- Discuss the New Deal with your colleagues.
- Demand a New Deal from your vendors.
- Consider specifying New Deal traits in new builds or renovations.
As a vendor in the industry
- Review the alignment of your products to the New Deal building blocks.
- Review your service offerings for transparency.
- Get your team on board with the New Deal.
- Tell your customers about the New Deal and the value for them.