What about electricity? It hasn’t changed since the time of Benjamin Franklin! What major developments do you see on the electrical side of office development?
David: True, electricity itself has not changed, but S+A’s approach to electrical systems keeps evolving. Likely the most significant evolution is the growth of IP devices, a shift that is having a curious impact on a building’s electrical infrastructure. As demands for IP-based systems grow, so too does the reliance on uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and emergency power systems – all power systems, in fact. And as the “building network” that connects all these IP devices becomes more critical than ever before, the power systems that support it (and all those devices) take on an even greater role. This means that the power supply must provide more stability and reliability – a lot more – than in previous generations of building designs.
To illustrate how quickly times are changing, it was not so long ago that the industry treated these building networks as an afterthought. Mechanical and electrical systems would be put in place, and then at the very last stage of construction, the building network would be installed. In future, this will be reversed, with the building network being one of the first systems installed after the concrete has cured. That way, the system will already be up and running to serve the wide variety of IP-based equipment installed by the mechanical, electrical and general contractors. Everything from air handlers and light fixtures to security systems and elevators will rely on this network for control and proper operation. And in addition to providing optimized building performance, some of this information may also be valuable for tenants in providing services, such as way finding, advertising, and ordering products.
Something as simple as light fixtures will become IP-based devices with energy-efficient LEDs and intelligent sensors to detect occupancy levels and lighting levels – and even interface with heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls. The LED driver will be “addressable,” meaning that it will carry a unique IP address on the building network. This gives it the ability to either be controlled by the building, or supply information back to the building network. In some cases, the method of feeding power to these devices will change as POE (Power over Ethernet) equipment is developed. A POE light fixture receives its power from the network, potentially saving the wiring and distribution costs associated with traditional wiring approaches. The interconnectivity of these devices and systems will be incredible, impacting everything from boardroom audio-visual (AV) systems and video conferencing capabilities to food courts and workspace designs.
Link to previous nSite issue: Building Intelligence: it's only smart