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Technology of Intelligent Building Management Systems

For many years, discussion, definition and investigation of intelligent building has been carried out. Intelligence is a feature that many would have not thought to be associated with buildings. This is because applying it to non-living objects especially buildings seems incongruous (Alexander, 2004). Understanding the meaning of intelligence signify a clear reason as to why the term is relevant to today’s increasingly challenging needs of businesses. Construction industry has been slowly adopting technological innovation to meet the demands of the market. Intelligent buildings (IB) have been invented as a result of these demands and because of various shortcomings in the previous types of building techniques. IBs span two very different but essential demands required by owners of buildings and its occupants. Indeed, buildings must be capable of effectively and quickly responding to changing demands of owners and tenants. Technology of intelligent building management system (IBMS) is discussed in this essay and security managers considerations of IBMS.

Technology of Intelligent Building Management System

Intelligent building is a term that has no universal definition (Alexander, 2004).Nonetheless, interaction between a facility and people is expected when considering IB. Moreover, IB is expected to be highly adaptive to change as well as accommodate advance technology and communication and at the same time be self-caring for purposes of achieving its harmonious relationship with nature (Asian Institute of Intelligent Buildings, AIFB, 2001). Modern buildings are constructed in a manner that relies on various systems for its operations. For example, a residential building requires ventilation, lighting, heating and air-conditioning. In some cases, these systems utilise different software that are incompatible most of the time hence making it difficult to undertake analysis of their usage or introduction of sophisticated automation throughout the entire building. Intelligent building management system (IBMS) is an open-platform software type that amalgamates all these features into one, integrated database (Wong & Wang, 2005). In this case, the overall energy usage in a building can be monitored in a more accurate and close manner. In turn, performance is optimised through automatic identification of excessive or unnecessary use of energy. This feature is unique to IBMS since all system information is assembled into one front-end interface in case of a regular building management system (Lacey, 2013). Therefore, one system is allowed to be controlled by another based on the information it has generated. For instance, heating in a building can be controlled by the lighting system.

Advancement of technology has played a significant role in many spheres of human life. Indeed, technological innovations and its rapid changes have brought several effects to people’s expectations, attitudes, behaviours and lifestyles (Sherbini & Krawczyk, 2004). It is increasingly shaping the construction industry. Gann (2000) assert that designers and owners of buildings should transform the manner in which buildings are designed. This transformation has been achieved through the use of IBMS in today’s buildings which include developments of security, access, environmental and fire detection systems. Indeed, IB is regarded by Intelligent Building Institute as a building that provide a productive and cost effective environment by optimising systems, structure, services, management and their interrelationship (Atkin & Brooks, 2007). Currently, IB is considered as that building which has incorporated concepts, materials, systems and technologies that are the best in the environment (Doukas et al., 2007). Through integration of all factors, a building that exceeds the expectations of its owners and occupants is achieved.

Computer-based system that is responsible for overseeing and controlling operations of a facility and management of energy and safety procedures is automatically implied when IBMS is used (Atkin & Brooks, ). In IBMS, integration of all functions to one system is carried out. It is a desirable approach that is utilised in IB. It is most likely to have a user interface that has access to different systems including security, lighting, fire, air-conditioning and power. All these are essential feature present in a typical IB that use technology of IBMS. Clements-Croome (2004) contends that IB should be a facility that incorporates latest technology, is sustainable, healthy and satisfy the needs of its occupants. They should also be capable of adapting to changes.

Benefits of Intelligent Buildings

The success of IBs can only be considered in terms of their appropriateness in meeting demands expected from them. These demands change from time to time. In the last decade, the demands on buildings were adaptable and inexpensive space that can deliver high levels of performance to its occupants (Alexander, 2004). sTechnical and individual factors appear to necessitate the adoption of intelligent building management systems (IBMS) and the role of security managers in satisfying the often conflicting demands of owners, occupants and organisations. Nonetheless, IBs provide several benefits to these stakeholders. By applying intelligence to the designing and management of a building, an occupant of these facilities receive several benefits. It ranges from physical to mental benefits (So & Chan, 2013). These benefits are physical in nature through security, acoustical, heating and lighting services that are efficient and responsive. They are mental because of integration and efficient communications that are undertaken by people amongst themselves and between individuals and computers (Alexander, 2004).

Intelligent buildings provide benefits to managers of these buildings through provision of quality control in terms of services and systems. Moreover, managers of IBs accrue benefits from them through infrastructural feedback from the IBMS. Management control becomes a reality to facilities managers when they are capable of setting parameters for wide-systems of a building and they maintain control over the system’s cost or performance. This is achievable in an IB. In contrast, facilities management in a conventional building is a fire-fighting exercise that cannot be controlled in responding to crises (So & Chan, 2013). Facilities and security managers gain some benefits when location of services or personnel is changed. Laying of new cables, disruption of services, lighting reassessment, conditioning of air and power on an ad hoc basis is not necessary in a facility utilising IBMS (Shengwei, 2010). Rather, managers are assured that the services in buildings they are managing are capable of coping with its basic needs. They are only left with a task of controlling the necessary physical equipment and movement of staff (Alexander, 2004). Additionally, setting, costing and scheduling of plans can be done in advance. The building management system (BMS) also benefits managers through automatic preparation of planned preventative maintenance measures (Alexander, 2004). This ensures that the building is in the right condition and all systems are working optimally.

Facilities that are using IBMS provide its owners with certain benefits that are absent in facilities that do not have this technological innovation. A direct cost benefit is received by owners of IBs (Santamouris, 2006). This is realised through a reduced lifetime costs that are required in managing and operating a building. Due to a similar set of steady services and available specifications of facilities, initial cost can be easily predicted (Wong, 2011). IBs has ensured that there is no need of making all the short-term decisions regarding locating staff; how each space is to be utilised; and computers. IBMS has enabled construction of buildings to a size and design that considers long-term demands and at the same time meet and respond to virtually all internal demands.

Vulnerabilities, Risks, and Performance Challenges of Intelligent Buildings

Incorporation of IB techniques and implementation of new working methods into facilities presents various performance challenges to the building institution. Indeed, technology of IBMS demands that designers of buildings are required to anticipate environmental trends that will likely have an impact of buildings throughout their expected lifetime (Langston & Lauge-Kristen, 2002). IB utilise converged infrastructure and it involves integration of building systems and business systems. This has potential of creating various new risks that are related to technology, personnel and operations (Institute of Engineering and Technology, IET, 2016). The greatest vulnerability or risks associated with IB is the human aspect. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, there are people who may attempt to reconfigure operating systems or bypass security controls. The impact that errors or omissions bring can be magnified through systems integration. Integration of systems brings together teams from information technology and facilities management and their priorities and reporting chains may differ. In turn, effective response to malfunctions or system faults may be inhibited. Moreover, from technological viewpoint, integration utilised in IB may lead to introduction of new failure modes (Langston & Lauge-Kristen, 2002). This involves interference of building systems by the business systems and vice versa. For instance, running latest antivirus software and regular patching is a normal activity that is carried out to office computers. However, this may not be the case for IBMS or computers utilised for purposes of safety-critical systems. Vulnerabilities from malware can therefore be realised through network or from media that has infection.

The integrity of an IB is capable of being compromised if unauthorised individuals gain physical access to the building or control the critical systems of the building (Brooks, 2011). The safety of the building occupants is seriously occupied when unauthorised personnel manage to disable the systems of the building or take control of them. Indeed, continuing occupying the building may not be safe if these situations occur. This may be due to physical damage occasioned by floods or fire or the health and lives of occupants are threatened. Lives of tenants are put at risk when security and access control are disabled necessitating individuals to be redeployed in order to carry out manual checks instead of automated systems (IET, 2016). IBs are mostly energy-efficient buildings that can have its integrity compromised when degradation or disruption of its energy management functions by malicious individuals is carried out through direct manual interference or malware installation.

Disruption of building systems can seriously affect the building’s availability hence preventing it from providing its required functionality. The kind of availability risk that can befall a building is dependent on the building type and the critical nature of the building service that has been affected (IET, 2016). For example, occupants could find a building inhospitable when temperature goes beyond the acceptable limits due to IBMS becoming inoperable. Damages to equipment and materials that have been stored in the system can occur due to excessive temperatures. Availability of the top sections of a tall building could be seriously affected when normal operations of lifts and escalators are disrupted and occupants are unable or do not want to utilise staircases.

Drivers for Intelligent Buildings

Typically, the need to have new interventions that are energy efficient; buildings that have enhanced security to itself and occupants; and real-time decision support systems spurs the growth of IBs (IET, 2016). . IBs are relatively new are that continues to evolve. The world is facing shortage of resources with energy conservation is a top priority. The drive towards energy saving has led to development of IBs. IBs use innovative technologies that ensure that energy is conserved and used optimally within a building. In case lighting and heating systems are not in use, the system automatically reduces their functionalities or completely switches them off. In the end, energy consumption in the building is significantly reduced. To any project or business operations, reducing operation costs is always one of the major results that are constantly searched for. IBs enable reduction of operating costs to its owners in terms of maintenance and management of the building over its lifetime.

Safety of building users is an issue that significantly affects the construction of any facility. Safety of building occupants has driven the growth and development of IBs. An IB is capable of providing safety features such as smoke extraction fans, fire doors that play critical role to the well-being of occupants. Improvement of building value is a driving force behind IB (Booty, 2009). IBMSs can assist owners of buildings raise their assets value through reduction of operational costs and provision of higher levels of comfort to the tenants. IBs are reliable in the sense that it monitors energy supply and ensure there is no occurrence of differences in terms of energy intensity. Indeed, energy-saving technologies have significantly increased in the recent past making energy the building’s leading controllable operating expense (Booty, 2009). This is in line with recent emphasis on the entire lifetime of a building rather than a building’s capital cost.

Security Managers Considerations of IBMS

Throughout a lifetime of any building, performance level and standard of management that is capable of providing and sustaining conditions appropriate for the well-being of its occupants is required. In the same logic that the responsibilities of security managers can be considered in different levels, building performance can also be viewed in a number of levels (Alexander, 2004). This performance levels should be considered by security managers in designing and maintaining IBMS. To security managers building performance refers to the extent to which a building is responding to the needs of its occupants. In future, buildings that need low levels of power and significantly require less wiring will be demanded. Moreover, occupants will demand buildings that have more individual mobility and lower air-conditioning implications (Pearson, 2007). These factors heavily influence security managers’ considerations of IBMS.

Intelligent building is supposed to provide efficiency to its users and reduce maintenance and management costs to its owner. An effective IBMS plan should have the ability to mitigate risk in the entire design, installation and operation stages of the system’s lifecycle (Schneider Electric, 2011). Most security managers focus on building a secure design that they take very few steps in maintaining security in the future. This is the same as building a protective wall in a protected area and choosing not to position security guards to watch over the building from the top of the wall. In the end, people will develop ways to get in. Security managers can only effectively manage risk when they create and execute a plan that addresses security throughout the system’s lifetime. In other words, security managers must consider ways of mitigating risks in an IBMS. In creating a plan to deal with various security risks, coordination between parties such as network administrators and system integrators is needed (Schneider, 2011). Security managers must ensure that all the stakeholders familiarise themselves with the unique challenges that are faced with in securing an IBMS.

In designing IBMS, the main focus is establishment of a boundary within the IBMS and provision of ways used in controlling and monitoring access. Security managers must consider various decisions at this stage since they determine several security options that will be available in the later stages (Al-Kodmany, 2015). Solicitation of input from individuals tasked with the responsibility of installing and operating the system is therefore important to security managers. Indeed, in designing IBMS, device selection, infrastructure of network and physical security are crucial elements security managers should consider.

Security managers must consider ways of enabling threat detection and mitigation. There should be measures that detects and limits the effects brought by security breaches. In fact, this is an important consideration in devising a security plan regarding IBMS (Atkin & Brooks, 2015). In detecting and mitigating several threats, there are some best practices that can be considered by security managers. Creation of logs that are monitoring all aspects of IBMS should be undertaken. It includes network activities, device activities, physical access and configuration of firewall (Khurana, Hadley, & Frincke, 2010). In case an intrusion detection system is utilised, security managers should take enough time to fully understand system’s capabilities and limitations that they have selected before configuration of alerts and active response rules governing the operation. These configuration rules should be a reflection of the network’s operating behaviour.

Security managers are responsible for securing IBMS. Once installation of a system has been completed, necessity of addressing security does not end (Scheider Electric, 2011). Monitoring of the system, management of account, and maintenance of firewall are essential in operating a secure system. Security managers must consider these issues and be proactive in carrying out their functions within IBMS. Individuals who are interacting with an IBMS on a daily basis play a vital role in ensuring that its overall security system is maintained (Lacey, 2013). A single person can easily knowingly or unknowingly undermine policies and procedures governing security of an IBMS. Security managers must consider the training needed and the level of training that each individual involve with IBMS in order to build their awareness about security breaches in the system. These managers should recognise that security training is effective when participation is mandatory and the entire training process is monitored for effectiveness. When specifying an IBMS, security managers must also take into account required network protocol.

Effective IBMS security demands a framework that goes well beyond a thoroughly made design. It requires vigilance to be carried out in all stages of the system’s lifecycle. Creating an elaborate security plan for managing risks related to each lifecycle stage is the first step that should be undertaken. In fact, the basis of the system’s security planning process is to have a common understanding of the available best practices used in securing an IBMS (Schneider Electric, 2011). By having this information, security managers can evaluate alternatives and choose the best method that suits their application.


Intelligent buildings should be capable of supporting the entire physical, social and mental health of the tenants. Occupants are central to IBs. Indeed, provision of IBs should be carried out with the insight, information and influence of the occupants. This is because the more they perceive to be in control the more they are likely to have positive feelings of satisfaction and comfort in the building. In fact, this is the objective of IB performance- creation of an environment that sustainably maximise efficiency of individuals occupying a building while enabling efficient resource management at the lowest amount of lifetime costs. In sum, IB involves application of intelligent methods that are tailored towards matching the needs of building occupants all the time and at the same time provide cost-effective support in saving money over the lifetime of a building.


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