Commercial Property Executive April 2013 : Page 20

TrendTalk Market View (continued from page 17) on the rise, smart buildings eventually will be able to sell excess power back to utilities. To-day, however, the opportunity to save energy is reason enough for companies to invest in smart technology. What these systems offer is continual com-missioning, the ability to monitor performance of building systems and equipment to en-sure that buildings operate at peak effi ciency. Without smart technology, buildings benefi t from retro-commissioning every three to fi ve years, the typical time it takes for building sys-tems to become so out of whack that a com-prehensive cross-test of systems is fi nancially viable. A real-time monitoring and control sys-tem detects when equipment is not running at peak effi ciency, and in many cases resolves the problem with automatic adjustments. What happens when an ineffi cient situ-ation can’t be resolved by the automated system alone? This is where smart systems vary. Many systems can only point engineers to the problem. Some can guess at a root cause, and maybe suggest a course of ac-tion. The best new systems include a work or-der management feature, closing the loop by re-checking the system after engineers have done their own diagnosis, conducted mainte-nance or repairs, and closed the work order. Even with the best smart building systems, at some point a skilled building operating engi-neer will need to make a physical adjustment. An example of this dialogue between smart systems and skilled humans can be seen in one of the fi rst implementations of IntelliCom-“Even with the best smart building systems, at some point an ... engineer will need to make a physical adjustment.” mand, a system developed by Jones Lang LaSalle and powered by Pacifi c Controls technology. As soon as the technology was in place and the team initiated the system, Intel-liCommand detected that several rooftop air conditioning units were not using “free” out-side air for cooling in an economizer mode even though the outside air temperature was cool enough to do so. Since the employees in the building were comfortable and normal maintenance and inspection cycles for these units were quar-terly, the engineering staff had no easy way to quickly detect the problem without a con-stant monitoring system. The units would have continued to run expensive mechanical compressors for cooling instead of using cool outside air for several months, thus driving up energy costs. Once the glitches were fi xed, the building’s energy consumption was no-ticeably reduced. In other situations, smart technology has helped our corporate clients set priorities in capital planning. The system can identify in-effi ciencies and determine the amount of en-ergy that is being wasted, but it takes a hu-man being to decide whether the cost of the ineffi ciency is high enough to warrant replace-ment of the equipment. Without accurate cost and benefi t data, corporate real estate direc-tors have a diffi cult time convincing CFOs that equipment replacement is as important as other uses for limited capital. Data collection from automated systems is only useful if someone knows what to do with the data once it’s collected. Smart sys-tems can do more analysis than ever before, but they can’t optimize performance on their own—that takes smart people. —Dan Probst is chairman of energy and sus-tainability services for Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. Now Playing on CPE TV ... Log on to CPE TV for insights into business, the economy and the commercial real estate sector, with a focus on both critical issues and top news and research. CPE TV features video commentary from industry leaders, economists and other experts, as well as input from investors and space users, property tours and other special reports. 20 April 2013 | Commercial Property Executive

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