So why not deploy cloud for raising the performance of buildings, says Johnson Controls, which considers Building Efficiency Systems as the next big step after Building Automation Systems. David R Clark, the Vice President of the cloud-based Panoptix Program at JCI in conversation with B Surendar of Climate Control Middle East.
How do you view the market opportunities for cloud-based solutions in the Middle East?
We think the market opportunity is right in the Middle East. More than the market opportunity, government initiatives, such as Dubai’s green building regulations, are encouraging.
Generally speaking, people are saying, “Give me the same type of technology I use at home to solve business challenges.” And 20% of software is delivered by cloud today.
Broadly speaking, how does Panoptix work?
With Panoptix, we put very intuitive analytics to the data we get from buildings. Panoptix is really an eco-system we are offering and not a single software. It starts with apps and an open platform.
In about 90 days (Editor’s note: the interview was on May 22), we will be bringing a solution developer kit, so third-party application developers can have this platform. We have a family of apps doing energy management, resource management, and utility management. We are developing global apps.
In the UAE, for instance, you have Estidama, which is different from USGBC’s LEED rating system. So someone could write an Estidama app using our software developer kit that will run on Panoptix.
We are giving clients the ability to communicate with one another. We have built a live chat feature, and if you are a subscriber, you can ask questions about apps.
So it’s not just software but a platform and BMS in buildings. And if we want to network with buildings the world over, we can take data out of buildings into cloud and normalise it.
What is the nature of the apps?
We are talking of apps on meters and metering that uses statistics-based analytics to make sure that meters are working as they ought to. We have a fault detection and diagnostic module (FDD). Our airside app includes 70 FDD modules whether air side systems are working efficiently. In other words, they run 70 routines. Soon, we will be introducing a water-side app that look at chillers and pumping systems. We also have a carbon and energy recorder app that tracks energy usage and transforms that into carbon footprint information. That way, you can publicise your carbon management activities to a community or a city, and so that opens up the option of carbon credits.
We also have an Energy Performance Monitor. If you do a lighting retrofit or chiller upgrade or install VFD, this application will do continuous reporting on how that energy project is realising savings against a baseline. There are companies that do only FDDs and CA (Customised Analyses). We do all.
What does it cost to incorporate Panoptix?
The upfront cost is very minimal and there is a subscription fee. It is in the range of USD 5,000 to USD 25,000 to tie Panoptix to your building. And then, there is the subscription fee.
Is the ROI attractive?
The economies become very compelling for clients. We are giving these tools to our clients and empowering them. If they need help on how to put projects in place, they just need to pick up the phone. We are empowering the clients by putting the tools into their hands, and in that way, we are very different from other companies. One of the differentiations is that we don’t take over the building. We empower the clients, instead. But if the clients want to, we can look after their building. For this, we can bring into play the TBOM (Editor’s note: TBOM, which stands for Total Building Operations Maintenance is JCI’s other building energy management offering).
What kind of savings can Panoptix yield for the client?
It can save anywhere between seven per cent and 15%. In existing initiatives, it can enhance savings and improve equipment life. For example, in our headquarters building, over the last 10 years, we have reduced the carbon footprint by 30%, and Panoptix is continuing to help us, and we have continuously brought it down by 30%. Panoptix can help us continuously bring it down.
In the Middle East, what building types are you targeting?
In the Middle East, we will focus on commercial buildings, to start with, but they need to have building automation systems (BAS). We need BAS to get data. High-density residential buildings also look promising. Basically, anything that’s connected to BAS in building, we can take data out of.
In a country like the UAE, what is a good number to begin with?
In the UAE, a couple of 100 buildings would be good for Panoptix. To get people interested in the technology, we will wrap Panoptix into a performance contract, or TBOM, and sell them together. If the client feels the cost is going up, then you need to look at the ROI.
Are you looking to deploy Panoptix in a marquee project here, just like JCI’s retrofitting exercise at the Empire State Building in New York City?
Yes, we need some marquee projects here. Masdar is an option.
What strategy do you have lined up for Saudi Arabia, where a key challenge is the subsidies offered on power?
In Saudi Arabia, they should have to put subsidies around energy-saving technology. The ROI will be longer. If Saudi Arabia is taking steps to reduce the current domestic consumption of three million barrels of oil a day, they should encourage systems like Panoptix, which will allow building owners to go beyond low-hanging fruits.