Smart Building Systems for Architects Owners and Builders by James Sinopoli
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Smart Building Systems for Architects Owners and Builders by James Sinopoli

Technology has always influenced the buildings we build, and always will. Twenty-five to 30 years ago, however, the amount of technology in a building was minimal. It consisted of the public telecommunications utility installing its services in a building; a mechanical contractor installing a pneumatic control system for the heating, cooling, and ventilation system; and maybe a wordprocessing system. Although we have come a long way since those days, we are still in a very early stage of fully deploying and integrating technology systems into buildings.

In due course buildings will become full of technology. Walls and ceilings will be embedded with sensors, and every aspect of a building’s performance and use will be metered and measured. Software tools will be used to automatically optimize building systems without human intervention; real-time information about the building that is relevant to their particular needs will be provided to occupants and building management. Buildings will be fully interactive with the power grid, and geospatial location systems will be deployed for every building asset. I wrote this book as a step toward eventually fulfilling that vision.

It is meant as a guide to understanding the many aspects needed to deploy integrated technology systems into buildings and to provide straightforward information on smart buildings for architects, engineers, facility managers, developers, contractors, and design consultants. What’s here reflects my personal experience and research, and information gained from listening to and learning from many colleagues. Smart buildings can be many things, but simply defined: smart buildings use building technology systems to enable services and the operation of a building for the betterment of its occupants and management.

The drivers for smart buildings are the positive financial effects of integrated systems, energy conservation, greater systems functionality, and the continuing evolution of technology. The headwind to smart buildings is the inertia of people to move beyond the legacies of building design, construction, and operation. Such processes as Building Information Modeling as well as the movement to energyefficient and sustainable buildings are beginning to change that, however.

Specialists in certain technologies may find the coverage of some of the systems in this book to be elementary but can gain knowledge of other technology systems they may be less familiar with. To deal with a smart building one has to be somewhat of a generalist, understanding the synergy principal: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” It also helps to know something about each of a building’s technology systems, as well as the processes needed to design, construct, and operate a building.  I want to thank and acknowledge several people whose input and influence helped shape this book.

I’m fortunate to work every day with three exceptional individuals: Neil Gifford, who is simply one of the best building controls and system integration consultants on the planet; Gina Elliott, an energetic woman with extensive experience in business, technology, and integrated systems; and Andres Szmulewicz, a quiet, methodical, and extremely competent man who I’ve teamed with for years. I am also grateful to Christopher Rendall, a fine young engineer from the University of Texas who helped with research. Last, but not least, I need to thank my wife Kate for her endless patience and counsel. In the early 1980s, several major technology trends were under way. 

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