Intelligent operations

How can smart building solutions help you meet your clients' current and future demands? MEP Middle East reports on the developing use of the technology and the latest products.


How can smart building solutions help you meet your clients' current and future demands? MEP Middle East reports on the developing use of the technology and the latest products.

The use of intelligent or so-called smart systems in the Middle East region's buildings has increased dramatically over the recent past. And with changing user demands, such solutions are likely to become even more important in future developments.

Intelligent building systems have previously been seen by some as an added-extra product and something that is non-essential to the finished building.

However, the increased development of the associated technologies and network infrastructure products has meant that they can be used to perform several different functions within a building.

The higher emphasis on security worldwide over the last decade has seen the uptake of intelligent products rise, with cctv and access control being among those systems that building owners wish to be centrally controlled.

In addition, the current focus on green building and sustainability in the region has brought a further surge in interest in the products as many are specifically designed for the monitoring of building energy and water consumption.

And if confirmation were needed of the rise in the sector, that fact that there is an exhibition and conference dedicated to the topic scheduled to run in Abu Dhabi during April should provide the final proof.

Intelligent Building Gulf will make up part of Batimat's Building Futures Gulf event (see box ‘Intelligent buildings event', over) and focus on presenting comfort and security solutions for intelligent buildings, as well as demonstrating the energy auditing and performance benefits of using such systems.

Energy focus

The consumption of energy and water over the long-term operation is now a primary consideration for all new-build properties.

In Dubai, a directive from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister and vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai states that from January 2008 all new buildings must be designed to recognised international green building standards.

And Dubai is not alone in making sustainable building a priority, Emirates such as Abu Dhabi have announced similar plans, while the region as a whole seems determined to make the change. All of which is good news for the manufacturers and suppliers of such products and services.

Established manufacturers and systems integrators such as Johnson Controls and Pacific Controls have sustainability at the top of their agendas. Meanwhile, in response to this growing demand, several new firms have entered the market over recent months.

German-borne energy service provider Techem Energy Services Middle East has now established operations in the region and focuses on the reduction of water and power consumption in buildings. The firm offers turnkey energy management solutions that enable exact consumption-based metering.

Its services include radio-based meter reading and centralised data collection and analysis. "We make it transparent to residents how much [air conditioning] and water they consume," explains Hans Altmann, Techem's regional manager for the Middle East and Africa.

The allocation of costs in accordance with the principle of who caused them lowers the consumption of energy and water demonstrably by 15-20%," adds Techem director Hans-Lothar Schafer.

Optima International is another firm that is making strides within this sector. The Dubai-based firm is distributor of a building management system (bms) that is manufactured by Dutch-based firm Priva Building Intelligence.

"One of the key features of the Priva system is its internet operational capability, which allows even the smallest of systems with only one controller to sit on the client's network and be viewed or altered by any computer on that network through its inbuilt web browser," explains Optima International divisional manager Trevor Brooks.

If the network is connected to the wider internet, remote access can be achieved in the same way, with access being password-protected and all actions stored in memory for long-term retrieval and analysis. A TC Vision Supervisor can be connected to enable centralised monitoring and control.

"The key to all installations now is the desire for compatibility between suppliers, not just building management systems, but other electrical systems such as access, lighting, metering, fire, video and security, indeed all the services that a building needs to provide a safe, secure and comfortable working environment," stresses Brooks.

To achieve this goal, Priva has developed standard protocol drivers such as BACnet, LON, EIB, M-Bus, Modbus, OPC, ODBC and specific drivers for non-standard equipment or systems. "All of these interfaces are available at controller level to ensure that the connected systems are truly interoperable," assures Brooks.

As the ability for such web-based operation of the systems has increased, so has their usefulness to the building management industry and the number of available products. The ability for such web-based systems to enable devices from different manufacturers to communicate is also of great significance as contractors and systems integrators are no longer restricted to the use of one firm's products.

Beckhoff Automation offers an intelligent Ethernet-based operating control panel that includes pc control for ease of operator use. The CP6608 Ethernet panel is suitable for use in building or control room applications in industrial buildings, hotels, offices and residential properties.

The firm's products are based on a universal control platform that enables the integration of systems via Ethernet-based control technology. The modular Beckhoff I/O system has more than 250 different bus terminals and can cater for most signal types.

One of the first Middle East installations of the BACnet-based Priva system has just been completed at the Millennium Towers Hotel in Al Barsha, Dubai. This five-star hotel comprises of two 20-storey towers, one residential and one a hotel.

The Priva system will be used to control air handling units, fan coil units, chiller pumps and variable air volume (VAV) units within the development.

An on-site TC Vision Supervisor will provide the engineering team with central access and a Web Vision function will enable local or remote access to the building management system via a pc when using the necessary password.

The system is also due to be installed in several other Dubai-based projects including the New Oasis Shopping Centre, Cosmoplast Deira Hotel and the PVG & HVG Facility at Ras Al Khor.

Intelligent buildings event

The Intelligent Building Gulf exhibition will form part of the Building Futures Gulf event that is due to be held on 20-23 April 2008 in Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre.

The exhibition is aimed at recreating the link between the supply and demand for intelligent building products and networks.

The available products in this sector are often presented to the construction market in a manner that is too technical to be understood by clients and buyers, while the priority given to including intelligent building networks can sometimes be too low.

A series of seminars running alongside the main exhibition will aim to demonstrate the benefits of including intelligent systems within a building to increase the occupant comfort conditions while reducing the environmental impact and long-term building management costs.

Seminars scheduled for Monday 21 April specifically cover energy auditing, remote automated targeting monitoring and general energy management techniques.

See for more information and conference timings.

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